Monday, December 9, 2013



Indianapolis, Indiana (JFK+50) 55 years ago today, December 9, 1958, the John Birch Society was founded by retired business executive Robert Welch and a group of 12 like-minded individuals here in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, Indiana
Photo by Roy G. White
July 1963

Headquarters of the JBS was to be located in Belmont, Massachusetts.

The stated purpose of the John Birch Society was to 'promote less government, more responsibility, and a better world.'

Mr. Welch writes in 'The Blue Book of The John Birch Society,' published in 1961,...

"Our enemy is the Communists, and we do not intend to lose sight of that fact for a minute.  We are fighting the Communists---nobody else."

The Society was named after John M. Birch, a Baptist missionary.  Mr. Birch, who served in the US Air Force in WWII and as an intelligence officer in China, was shot and killed by Communists in 1945.  John Birch is considered to be the first casualty of the Cold War.

                  Robert Welch 

Robert Welch charged that Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy all "actively aided the Communist conspiracy." 

The Society also opposed the Civil Rights Movement, US aid to foreign countries, and the United Nations.

By the early 1960s, the JBS came under fire for the methods it recommended for its members to fight communism.  Those methods included impeaching the Chief Justice of the United States and dropping out of the UN.

In April 1961, Major General Edwin Walker, commander of the U.S. 24th Infantry in Europe and stationed in West Germany, was accused of indoctrinating his troops with right-wing literature from the John Birch Society.  

President Kennedy relieved him of his position.  

Walker came back home to become a leading figure in the "fight against the liberal establishment."  He lived in Dallas, Texas and made an unsuccessful bid for governor.

On April 10, 1963, a shot was fired into the General's home as he sat working at his desk.  The bullet came through the front window and entered the wall just inches above Walker's head.  

Although the perpetrator of the shooting remained unknown, the Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter.

        Major General Edwin Walker

Today the John Birch Society is headquartered in Grand Chute, Wisconsin and has local chapters in each of the 50 states.

The organization, which publishes The New American, has been described as right wing, ultraconservative and is considered by many to be part of the patriot movement.


The World Book Encyclopedia, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1967.