John Birch Society

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

John Birch Society

John Birch Society, ultraconservative, anti-Communist organization in the United States. It was founded in Dec., 1958, by manufacturer Robert Welch, headquartered in Belmont, Mass., and named after John Birch, an American missionary and intelligence officer killed by Communists in China (Aug., 1945). Its membership peaked in the mid-1960s at between 60,000 and 100,000. The most prominent of the extreme right-wing groups active in the United States, the society was founded to fight subversive Communism within the United States. Its other objectives have included the abolition of the graduated income tax, the repeal of social security legislation, the impeachment of various high government officials, the end to busing for the purpose of school integration, the end to U.S. membership in the United Nations, cancellation of U.S.-Soviet summit talks, and the nullification of the treaty that turned over the Panama Canal to Panama. In his book, The Politician, Welch charged to the effect that Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles had actively aided the so-called Communist conspiracy. The society has also contended that an elite international cabal—the U.S. branch of which supposedly includes the Council on Foreign Relations, for many years led by David Rockefeller—was seeking to establish a world tyranny. In 1989 the Society moved its headquarters to Appleton, Wis.

See R. Welch, The Blue Book of the John Birch Society (repr. 1995); R. Vahan, The Truth about the John Birch Society (1962); J. A. Broyles, The John Birch Society (1964); B. R. Epstein and A. Foster, Radical Right (1967); D. J. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society (2014); T. Lautz, John Birch: A Life (2016).

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