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1958

John Birch Society founded

In Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch, Jr., establishes the John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceives to be the extensive infiltration of communism into American society. Welch named the society in honor of John Birch, considered by many to be the first American casualty in the struggle against communism. In 1945, Birch, a Baptist missionary and U.S. Army intelligence specialist, was killed by Chinese communists in the northern province of Anhwei.

The John Birch Society, initially founded with only 11 members, had by the early 1960s grown to a membership of nearly 100,000 Americans and received annual private contributions of several million dollars. The society revived the spirit of McCarthyism, claiming in unsubstantiated accusations that a vast communist conspiracy existed within the U.S. government. Among others, the organization implicated President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. However, after the debacle of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s public hearings in the early 1950s, America became more wary of radical anti-communism, and few of the society’s sensational charges were taken seriously by mainstream American society. The John Birch Society remains active today, and its members seek “to expose a semi-secret international cabal whose members sit in the highest places of influence and power worldwide.”

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