9/6/60 = In a blistering letter to Fred Schwarz of Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, Welch expresses incredulity that Schwarz would attempt to undermine and bad-mouth the JBS. This letter is also significant because it, too, falsifies standard JBS dogma about the “Communist” origins of the “smear attack” on the JBS.
9/14/60 = Robert Welch memo "To All Members of The COUNCIL" reports statistical information concerning JBS chapters and members:
"...that on Saturday, September 10, we had 324 chapters and approximately 5300 members. This represents a gain of 84 chapters and about 1500 members since the last meeting of the COUNCIL on June 18...We had only 75 chapters and 1500 members at the first meeting of the COUNCIL last January..."
11/16/60 = Robert Welch memo “To All Members of The COUNCIL” states that the next Council meeting will be held on December 10, 1960 at the Harvard Club in New York City. Item #2 on the agenda, according to Welch would be:
“A brief report of the various smears of, and attacks on, the Society during the past few months. Not all of these attacks are known to some members of our COUNCIL, and some of them are not known to any members. We shall seek the COUNCIL’S advice on basic policy, with regard to such attacks in the future.”
This is a particularly significant item because it falsifies subsequent JBS mythology concerning the “Communist” origins of “smear attacks” against the JBS.
Standard JBS dogma maintains that attacks upon the JBS (aka the “smear campaign”) began as a consequence of “orders” from Moscow in December 1960 and those “orders” resulted in a “mother article” which appeared in the February 25, 1961 issue of the Communist newspaper, People’s World.
See, for example, former FBI Special Agent W. Cleon Skousen’s fictional account here: http://www.zeios.com/OurRepublic/Article/27
“Because the Birch Society was practically unknown to the general American public I wondered how the Communist Party would launch its campaign. I had no idea that the legitimate American press would fall for the line which the Communists were about to broadcast.
On February 25, 1961, the official Communist newspaper on the West Coast called the Daily People's World, fired the opening broadside. The article was entitled, “Enter (from Stage Right) THE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY.” The article depicted the John Birchers as a secret, Fascist society and said that it was setting up ‘cells’ all across the country.
Of course, the People's World has a very limited distribution which would do little damage, but the thing which astonished me was the rapidity with which the transmission belt began to function so that this story was planted in one major news medium after another until finally even some of the more conservative papers had taken up the hue and cry.”
The reality, as Welch acknowledged to his Council in November 1960, is that the “attacks” and “smears” began “during the past few months” – not as a result of any Communist newspaper article in February 1961. In fact, in the opening paragraph of the September 1960 JBS Bulletin, Welch lamented that:
“For the past five weeks – it seems like five months – the John Birch Society has lived through one massive smear campaign on a national scale, and several regional attacks with varying degrees of plausibility, reach, and impact.”
Furthermore, see details above concerning Welch’s 4/60 Report to the JBS National Council which includes a discussion of the attack on Welch and the JBS by Elizabeth Dilling.
2/61 = FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover requested a summary memo concerning what was known about Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. The resulting 2/7/61 memo from a Section Chief in the Domestic Intelligence Division to the Assistant Director in charge of that Division concluded:
"We have been closely watching the activities of the JBS through the information supplied by the field. However, to date no information has been received indicating subversive elements have infiltrated or taken over any chapters of JBS. Also, no information has been received indicating JBS is operating as a 'hate' group or that its activities warrant investigation by the Bureau. To conduct any investigation of this anticommunist group could possibly cause embarrassment to the Bureau as most of the people active in the chapters of JBS are community leaders, leading businessmen and respected citizens. Some also appear to be crackpots." [FBI HQ file 62-104401, #639; 2/7/61 summary memo from F.J. Baumgardner to Alan H. Belmont]
2/10/61 = Robert Welch letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Lacey regarding "Communist-Zionist Conspiracy":
2/17/61 = The Boston FBI field office sent J. Edgar Hoover a very detailed background report concerning Robert Welch and the JBS. Some of the information which Boston obtained was from former FBI informant Herbert Philbrick (of I Led 3 Lives fame) who stated that he was a Home Chapter member of the JBS.
Boston reported the following:
(1) American Opinion magazine (formerly known as One Man's Opinion) - was incorporated 1/13/56. The President and Treasurer was Robert H.W. Welch Jr of 43 Fletcher Road - Belmont MA. The Clerk/Secretary was Ellen M. Lovett of Cambridge MA. The Directors were Robert Welch, Ellen Lovett and Ellen Douglas Gucker. Welch held 1001 shares of common stock. A financial statement filed 4/23/58 showed assets of $27,320.85. A financial statement dated 6/3/59 showed assets of $65,003.54 and a financial statement dated 6/27/60 showed assets of $77,475.82.
(2) John Birch Society, Inc. was incorporated 12/23/58 and given charter number 624-300. The officers were the same as for American Opinion magazine. The Directors listed were Mary M. White of West Concord MA, Robert Welch, and Ellen Lovett. The incorporators were: Robert Welch, Marian Probert Welch (Robert's wife), Ellen M. Lovett of Cambridge MA, Mary M. White of West Concord MA; Ellen Douglas Snow aka Mrs. Stanley Carman Snow, formerly Mrs. Alexander Gucker of Belmont MA; Philip L. Jenkins of Brockton MA and Juliette D. Guild of Hingham MA.
(3) Robert H.W. Welch Jr: He was born in Edenton NC on 12/1/1899. He married Marian Probert in 1922 and had 2 sons, Robert Jr. born 1923 and Hillard W. Welch born 1925.
Robert H.W. Welch enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis MD during World War I and during World War II he served on the Advisory Commission of the Office of Price Administration for the candy industry. In 1922, Welch founded the Oxford Candy Company and was its Sales Manager in 1935. Beginning in 1940, he was Vice President and Director of Sales and Advertising of his brother's candy company, The James O. Welch Company of Cambridge MA. In 1947, Welch was the recipient of the Kettle Award by the candy industry. From 1940-1944, Welch was a Board member of the Massachusetts Chess Federation.
From 1951 to 1954, he was a member of the Belmont MA School Committee and served as Director of several small businesses and one bank. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Washington Commission of the National Association of Candy Manufacturers and also was a member of the Board of Directors of the United Prison Association. From 1951-1957 he was a Director of the National Association of Manufacturers, being its Vice President from 1955-1957. In 1941, he authored the book, The Road To Salesmanship. In 1952 his book, May God Forgive Us was published and in 1954, The Life of John Birch.
2/25/61 = What the Birch Society describes as the "mother article" which launched a "smear attack" upon the JBS in the mainstream media (such as Time magazine about a week later) is published in the Communist newspaper, People's World. The article is copied below.
3/9/61 = The FBI's evaluation of the John Birch Society was starkly negative and it was not based upon any Communist newspaper article. The Bureau's primary expert on the communist movement (i.e. their Chief Inspector who ultimately became Assistant Director in charge of the FBI's Domestic Intelligence Division) describes the JBS as "a lunatic fringe type of organization" which is "typical of the fanatics" which FBI speakers confront when they attempt to give the public "a true factual picture concerning the nature of the threat which communist activities in this country represent." FBI memo copied below.
3/13/61 = Robert Welch letter to Otis Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times -- commenting upon its series of articles about the JBS and a not-too-friendly editorial published by the Times:
3/14/61 = Birch Society representatives in Los Angeles contact their local FBI office to request 10,000 copies of a Bureau poster, "What You Can Do To Fight Communism". Senior officials of the Bureau advise that "in view of the extremist position taken by this group that we should not, of course, have anything to do with them" and they recommend that a letter be sent to all Special-Agents-in-Charge of FBI field offices instructing them that no FBI publications should be made available to the JBS or its representatives nor should the JBS be allowed to reprint FBI publications. J. Edgar Hoover handwrites "Yes" on the recommendation. Memo copied below.
3/20/61 = Robert Welch "To All Members Of Our Committee Of Endorsers And A Few Other Friends": In yet another example of the relentless attempt by Welch and the JBS to characterize all of its opponents and all of their criticisms of the JBS as part of a "smear campaign" against the JBS, Welch distributed the following 4-page letter. The Birch Society has always perceived and portrayed itself as a totally innocent victim, totally undeserving of any criticism---and this mentality persists even today. See my comments appearing underneath the copies below:
3/20/61 WELCH LETTER PAGE 2:
Welch states: "Our people have also been responsible for the production, and then during the past two months for literally thousands of showings, of a film strip called COMMUNISM ON THE MAP, which merely depicts factually the steady geographical advance of Communism since 1917, and especially during the past fifteen years. This film strip was conceived, prepared, and produced by an ardent member of the John Birch Society, partly from our materials. And it has been so effective that it was being shown every extensively at naval installations all over the country, by naval personnel until -- according to reports we have now received -- leftwing influences of some kind were able to get these showings by and for naval personnel stopped almost entirely."
The "ardent member" referred to by Welch was Glenn A. Green -- Executive Vice President of the National Education Program headed by George S. Benson (located at Harding College, Searcy AR). More about Harding College below. See Glenn Green's 11/11/59 letter to Robert Welch here:
In February 1961, Cong. William Tuck of Virginia sent a letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover which reported that: “As you may know, Coleman Andrews and his son Coleman Jr., have been presenting Dr. George Benson’s ‘Communism on the Map’ to audiences in the City of Richmond on an average of about twice a week for the past three months."
The FBI received numerous inquiries from concerned citizens around the country who wanted to know if the assertions made in the filmstrip were accurate.
The FBI obtained a copy of the filmstrip from the U.S. Navy in December 1960 and it was reviewed by senior Bureau officials in its Domestic Intelligence Division. The file copy of Hoover's 2/7/61 reply to Cong. Tuck contains the following notation:
"The film strip ‘Communism on the Map’ was prepared by the National Education Program, Searcy AR, of which Mr. George S. Benson is President…This film was reviewed by Bureau Officials on 12-22-60, at which time the consensus of opinion of the Agents reviewing it was it is not the type of material which should be endorsed by the Bureau. It frequently dealt in half truths, distortion of truths and innuendos to establish its point that international communism is encircling America.” [FBI HQ file 77-55206, #58; Cong. William Tuck of VA 2/2/61 letter to J. Edgar Hoover and Hoover's reply]
The original December 1960 FBI review of the filmstrip was as follows:
“In recent months we have received a number of inquiries concerning a lecture and film strip entitled Communism on the Map. The Bureau has had no information concerning this lecture and accordingly, through Liaison, a copy of the taped lecture and film strip was obtained on loan from the Department of the Navy through Lt. Commander C.S. Williams, Aide to Vice Admiral William R. Smedberg III, Chief of Bureau of Naval Personnel. Admiral Smedberg had considered the film biased.”
“This lecture and film strip was reviewed on December 22, 1960 by Section Chief G.H. Scatterday and Special Agents C.D. Brennan, (name deleted), V.E. Ruehl, and (names deleted). The lecture and film strip was prepared by the National Education Program, Searcy Arkansas of which George Benson is on the Bureau’s special correspondents list..."
“The film stressed the rise of international communism from its beginning in Russia to its current alleged encirclement of the United States. It covered Soviet infiltration and control of various European, African and Asian countries and indicated substantial Soviet infiltration into South America, Latin America, and Canada, which is gradually encircling the United States. The principal theme of the lecture is based upon an alleged statement by Lenin, ‘First we will take Eastern Europe. Next, the masses of Asia. Then we shall encircle the last bastion of capitalism, the United States of America. We shall not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.’ In this connection, it should be noted that this alleged statement has previously come to the Bureau’s attention and extensive research by the Central Research Section has failed to establish that this or a similar statement was ever attributed to Lenin.”
“Through such statements and the use of pictures, newspaper headlines and maps, the lecture and film strip frequently deal in half truths, distortion of truth and innuendos to establish its point, that international communism is encircling America. Through references to activities in the 1940’s, it infers that the United States Government is heavily infiltrated by communists at the present time. These references refer to the days of Coplon, Hiss, and others; however, through the distorted presentation of this material, the average person may believe there are currently many communists in Government service. Although the FBI is not mentioned by name, the lecture and film strip could well be interpreted as indirectly implying that the FBI has been most derelict in its duties in not eliminating spies and communists from Government service.”
“It was the consensus of opinion of the Agents reviewing the lecture and film strip that it is not the type of material which should be used or endorsed by the FBI.”
The “Recommendations” section of memo includes following notation: “Suggest we tell Williams for the Admiral’s information, that we agree with Admiral Smedberg that the film is biased.” Hoover wrote “OK” and initialed the suggestion – which was “handled 1/3/61”.
MORE ABOUT HARDING COLLEGE - Searcy AR
In September 1965, James D. Bales, Professor of Christian Doctrine at Harding College (Searcy AR), sought permission from the FBI to publish a compilation of J. Edgar Hoover’s public comments about communism but Hoover refused to authorize such a publication.One FBI memo reports that Bales had written to Robert Welch to inquire if the JBS publishing house (Western Islands) would be interested in publishing such a compilation of Hoover’s comments about communism, to be entitled “J. Edgar Hoover on Communism”. Robert Welch was enthusiastic and the JBS drew up a contract with Bales. A JBS representative met with an FBI Special Agent in Boston to discuss the idea. [FBI HQ file 62-104401, #3151; 6/26/67 memo from R.E. Wick to Assistant Director Cartha D. DeLoach, page 1.]
Page 2 of the memo has the following summary of the 1965 contact by Bales:
“In a memorandum prepared at this time, it was noted that Bales corresponded frequently with the Bureau and that Harding College is well known as a right-wing anticommunist center (and) is a source of extremist-type literature in the field of anti-communism. It was noted that it would be highly unwise for the Director to be associated publicly with Harding College.”
Bales sent a letter to J. Edgar Hoover dated 9/14/66 stating that despite the FBI’s rejection of his proposal, he intended to go forward with it because Hoover’s comments were already in the public domain. The FBI memo then observes:
“Following receipt of the above letter from Bales, he was removed from the Special Correspondents’ List and he was again told the Director could not give any permission to either publish this manuscript as a book or to circulate it in any manner.”
Page 3 of memo “Observations and Recommendation” observes:“It is felt the Director should remain firm in continuing to deny Bales and also the JBS permission to publish excerpts from the Director’s quotations on communism. It is not felt that such a book could possibly give a balanced view of the Director’s statements and in view of the extremist position taken by both Bales and the Birch Society, it is anticipated that the Director could be subject to public criticism by any implied association with Bales and the Birch Society.”
3/20/61 WELCH LETTER PAGE 3
Welch repeats standard mythology about his so-called book-length "private letter", The Politician: "By the time The John Birch Society was even founded I had stopped making copies of this 'long letter', we were letting it fade out of the picture, and it has never been any part of the materials of The John Birch Society in any way."
The reality is that during 1959 and 1960 Welch used The Politician as a recruitment tool for the John Birch Society. He sent copies of his unpublished "private letter" to many individuals and he asked them to read and believe its content -- and then join the JBS to do something about "the conspiracy" discussed in its pages. This is confirmed by both the FBI and a 1960 Naval Intelligence Report. In fact, as late as December 27, 1961, T. Coleman Andrews wrote the following letter to Welch:
"Dear Bob: This is just to remind you that you said you would let me have another look at The Politician. Lon Backman tells me that you loaned him a copy recently and that he has now finished reading it and could send it over to me if it would be all right for him to do so."
See chapter 1 of my JBS Report for details as well as scanned copies of documents which establish that Welch deliberately lied about this matter.
3/22/61 = Robert Welch "To All Members of Our COUNCIL": Welch discusses the announcement by Gov. Edmund Brown of California that the JBS will be the subject of an investigation by the California State Senate Factfinding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities.
In typical Bircher fashion, all investigative interest in the JBS is characterized as the result of "utterly ruthless members of a conspiracy". At the first meeting of the JBS National Council in January 1960, Welch described Governor Brown (and Gov. Rockefeller of NY) as "almost certainly actual Communists". When the Subcommittee's Report was released in 1963, Welch was so impressed by its general factual accuracy and fairness to the JBS that he reprinted the entire Report (with some additional comments regarding "errors" from the JBS perspective) and sold it through the Birch Society's American Opinion bookstore chain.
3/31/61 = Robert Welch sends a telegram to Sen. James O. Eastland, Chairman of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, asking that the Subcommittee investigate the JBS. Welch declares: "None of our members will plead the Fifth Amendment".
4/1/61 = Two California members of Congress (Edgar W. Hiestand and John H. Rousselot) urge a Congressional inquiry into the JBS to refute "smears" about the JBS. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union defends the JBS in a letter to the Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities by pointing out that "Regardless of how extreme and distorted (the Society's) views may be or how obnoxious they are to us or to the public at large, under the First Amendment, they have the right to be expressed free of government interference."
4/1/61 = Robert Welch "To Members Of Our COUNCIL and A Few Other Friends" - discusses national controversy over the JBS:
4/5/61 = The FBI received a phone inquiry from the Justice Department concerning what information it had concerning Robert Welch and the JBS. J. Edgar Hoover responded with a memo addressed to the Attorney General:
"We are answering inquiries from the press and public for information concerning the Society by stating that this Bureau is an investigative agency of the Federal Government and, as such, does not make evaluations or draw conclusions as to the character or integrity of any organization, publication, or individual. However, in the introduction to the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin dated April 1, 1961, I specifically pointed out the need for an objective and dispassionate approach in fighting the communist menace. I felt this step was necessary because of the rash of vigilante-type individuals and organizations springing up throughout the country which tend to depart from fact and use gossip, hearsay, and unsubstantiated charges in fighting communism. In the long run, such tactics hinder rather than help in this fight." [FBI HQ file 62-104401, #990; 4/5/61 memo from Hoover to The Attorney General, captioned "The John Birch Society"]
6/7/61 = Bryton Barron of Springfield VA was a former U.S. State Department Historian. In 1960, he became a JBS Coordinator in Virginia and Washington DC area but on May 14, 1961 he resigned. In June 1961, he circulated a 4-page caustic letter (copied below) to respond to comments by Robert Welch.
In November 1960, Robert Welch sent Barron a 9-page single-spaced typewritten letter in which Welch pointed out that: "At about the time or just before you became a part-time Coordinator for us, you wrote me quite a long letter. In it you made clear that practically everything we were doing in The John Birch Society, in both substance and method, was completely wrong. In fact, you made it quite clear that we had to be both ignorant and childish to be making be mistakes; and with kind condescension and patronizing generosity you told us what we should be doing, and what our objectives should be."
In another letter dated May 16, 1961, Welch opened his letter to Barron by observing: "You began your career in The John Birch Society by fighting with, and bitterly criticizing, every single member of the staff with whom you came in contact, either in person or by mail or telephone."
7/10/61 = In the first example of a JBS National Council member objecting to something which Robert Welch did, Paul Talbert objected to the fact that item #10 of the members agenda in the July 1961 JBS Bulletin had not been discussed with, and received approval from, the Council before being adopted as official JBS policy. Item #10 called upon JBS members to begin a project of compiling data on "the leading Comsymps, Socialists, and Liberals" in the U.S. and then send such material to JBS HQ so that the Society could "build up, and have available for all future research needs, the most complete and accurate files in America...on the background, connections, and activities of all the leading Liberals (including, of course, both Comsymps and Dupes).
Copied below is item #10 from the 7/61 JBS Bulletin and Welch's reply in a 7/17/61 "To All Members of the COUNCIL" memo:
09/05/61 = National Council member Dr. Granville Knight encouraged his fellow Council members to consider "changes (that) must be made if we are to survive." Among the changes discussed by Knight: "Bob Welch must be replaced by a nationally-known figure who has not been badly smeared and who merits the confidence of thinking Americans." Two weeks later, Knight resigned as a National Council member.
09/12/61 = National Council member Fred Koch (Wichita KS) sent a letter to Council member Tom Anderson (publisher of Farm and Ranch magazine), inquiring "how it would be possible to get copies of my book [A Businessman Looks At Communism] into the hands of the 1,100,000 of your subscribers, what would it cost to run this booklet in one issue of your magazine?"
Anderson replied on 9/19/61: "We figure we could run your book in the center of our November or December issue---sixteen pages handrunning for a total of $22,400." It ultimately is published in the July 1962 issue of the magazine. In addition, Anderson arranges with his printer to print 100,000 extra copies of the 16-page insert that ran in the July 1962 issue. In September 1962, Anderson tells Koch that 60,000 of the reprints had been purchased and Council member Paul Talbert in California had just ordered 10,000. The Birch Society in Nashville TN distributed inserts to all doctor's offices in Nashville. In October 1962, Anderson tells Koch that he only has 2500 reprints left and by 11/3/62 the supply was exhausted. Anderson states that he has "several thousand unfilled orders on hand". On 11/9/62, Koch asked Anderson to arrange for printing of 100,000 new reprints at .3 cents each.
09/23/61 = National Council member Dr. Granville Frank tells Tom Anderson: "I have sent in my resignation from the Council due to my inability to attend meetings and my feeling that unless one is active he should retire in favor of someone who is able to attend the meetings."
09/27/61 = Clarence "Pat" Manion sends Robert Welch a letter (copied below) which supports Dr. Granville Knight's evaluation of the dire situation facing the Birch Society because of substantial negative publicity about Robert Welch. Manion tells Welch that other prominent JBS members, including National Council members such as Father Richard Ginder and Stillwell J. Conner are in accord about the need for a new person to become the public face of the Birch Society. On November 14, 1961, National Council member T. Coleman Andrews sends a letter to Clarence Manion agreeing with his comments. Andrews tells Manion: "I know that it must have been extremely difficult for you to say to Bob the things that you did say to him, but I know how you feel, because I feel exactly the same way; however, the difference between you and me is that I would not have been able to say it nearly so well as you did. I sincerely hope that Bob is going to take your advice. If he doesn't, we will just have to do something about it."
In 1969, Father Ginder was arrested on morals charges after the Pittsburgh PA Police Department found photos in his apartment of teenage boys engaged in homosexual acts plus Ginder diaries documenting his own homosexual activities. Ginder was placed on 10 years probation. In 1978, Ginder was arrested again on morals charges.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 28, 2004
"Rev. Richard Ginder -- Former editor of prominent Catholic publications, including Our Sunday Visitor, and official diocesan censor. Placed on 10 years' probation in 1969 after police searched his Squirrel Hill home and found photographs of teenage boys performing homosexual acts and diaries documenting his own acts. Stripped of priestly duties in 1976 after publishing a book criticizing church positions on sexual morality. In 1978, convicted of sodomizing two 16-year-old boys. Sentenced to up to four years in prison. Died at age 70 in a 1984 car accident.”
09/28/61 = JBS National Council member Frank Brophy responded to anti-JBS comments made by Governor Pat Brown of California. Robert Welch included a copy of Brophy's letter with the 11/61 issue of the JBS Bulletin, copied below.
10/14/61 = Monsignor Francis Lally, the Editor of the Catholic publication Boston Pilot, challenged Robert Welch in an editorial entitled "One Half Of One" to document his assertion in an October 9th speech in Garden City, Long Island, New York that one-half of one percent of Catholic priests in the U.S. were Communist sympathizers -- which would mean 273 priests.
Copied below is the editorial and Robert Welch's reply to Monsignor Lally:
It should be pointed out that neither of Welch's statistical estimates regarding the number of Protestant and Catholic clergy who could accurately be described as "Communist" or "Communist sympathizer" are correct -- according to the FBI. Welch stated that he relied upon such "authorities in this area as Herbert Philbrick and Dr. J.B. Matthews" but the FBI evaluation of the assertions made by J.B. Matthews in his July 1953 article which Welch relied upon for his estimate - was as follows:
In arrangement, handling of names, selection of facts, and in its implications, the article is not at all fair to the Protestant clergy of this country” and it characterized Matthew’s charges as “more in the nature of sensational journalism than serious reporting of the facts.” [FBI HQ file 100-5821, serial #22, 7/29/53].
11/61 = Council member Revilo Oliver issues a press release describing Robert Welch as "one of the finest and noblest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I believe absolutely in his integrity and his judgment, and I support him without reservation." However, 4 1/2 years later Oliver resigned from the Birch Society after making a speech with anti-semitic overtones. In his resignation letter Oliver told Welch that:
"I now learn that you are not, in fact, head of the John Birch Society. I have ascertained that you are subject to the secret committee composed of Messrs. Blumenfeld, Kogan, Greener, and Solomon whose orders you must and do obey…I have written this letter in pain and anguish of heart. Whatever the causes that brought you to your present plight, I pity you. You have betrayed the great and noble Society that you founded. In deep sorrow, I bid you farewell.”
11/20/61 = In a speech in Austin, TX, Robert Welch asserted that "A comparatively few thousands Communists, concentrated in key departments" of the U.S. government had taken the U.S. "steadily down the road to Communism by steps supposedly designed and presented to the American public as ways of fighting Communism." Assistant Attorney General J. Walter Yeagley (Chief of Internal Security Division of the Justice Department) wrote to Welch and asked him to provide whatever facts were in his possession "which might establish that certain Government employees are members of the Communist Party." Welch never replied.
12/5/61 = JBS National Council member Clarence Manion sends Council member T. Coleman Andrews a copy of a letter which Manion received from a JBS Chapter Leader in California. Manion handwrites on top of the letter "Dear Coleman: This letter is only one of many." The letter expresses the frustration of the Chapter Leader concerning Robert Welch's statements about President Eisenhower being a Communist traitor contained in his unpublished private letter, The Politician: "I have talked with many people. They all seem to think of the Birch Society and Welch synonymously and therefore their opinion is that it is a name-calling smear organization, etc. As I told you yesterday, the minute the Society’s name comes up, so does the subject of Eisenhower and Welch. They seem to close their ears the minute that it is mentioned…After a lot of thinking and discussion on the subject, the only way that our chapter members can come to a decision on the subject is that Welch should step down, and allow the Council to be the voice of the Society. I think Welch is a terrific patriot…and would not stand for a second in the way of (JBS) progress.”
12/15/61 = Robert Welch "To All Chapter Leaders and Home Chapter Members" discusses the recently-formed American Committee For Aid To Katanga Freedom Fighters which was organized by William F. Buckley Jr. Welch urges JBS members to support this Buckley enterprise.
12/61 = Rev. Richard Ginder resigns from JBS National Council.
01/62 = Frank Cullen Brophy of Phoenix AZ and Robert D. Love of Wichita KS and Robert H. Montgomery of Boston MA join the JBS National Council.
01/01/62 = Robert Welch sends a letter to Tom Anderson, J. Bracken Lee, M.T. Phelps and Dr. Charles C. Tansill in their capacity as judges "in our contest for the best essays by college undergraduates on GROUNDS FOR THE IMPEACHMENT OF EARL WARREN...We have reduced the number of essays to be submitted to yourselves to twelve, of which nine will win prizes."
01/31/62 = Robert Welch replied to a letter from National Council member Lt. Gen. Charles B. Stone III regarding criticisms of Welch and the JBS by William F. Buckley Jr. Welch characterized the Buckley comments as "merely on of the surface parts of a huge, many-fingered, and to some extent organized campaign, not just to discredit and get rid of me, but actually to destroy The John Birch Society or at least reduce it to the level of another innocuous and frustrated debating society." Welch's letter is copied below:
02/03/62 = Sen. Barry Goldwater replies to a 1/31/62 letter he received from JBS National Council member Robert D. Love. Goldwater explains his position concerning Robert Welch:
02/13/62 = National Review magazine publishes a highly critical article, "The Question of Robert Welch" which declares:
"How can the John Birch Society be an effective political instrument while it is led by a man whose views on current affairs are, at so many critical points . . . so far removed from common sense? That dilemma weighs on conservatives across America. . . . The underlying problem is whether conservatives can continue to acquiesce quietly in a rendition of the causes of the decline of the Republic and the entire Western world which is false, and, besides that, crucially different in practical emphasis from their own."
Sen. Barry Goldwater associated himself with the National Review position:
"I think you have clearly stated the problem which Mr. Welch’s continued leadership of the John Birch Society poses for sincere conservatives. . . . Mr. Welch is only one man, and I do not believe his views, far removed from reality and common sense as they are, represent the feelings of most members of the John Birch Society. . . . Because of this, I believe the best thing Mr. Welch could do to serve the cause of anti-Communism in the United States would be to resign. . . . We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner."
02/08/62 = Council member Fred Koch sends letter to Tom Anderson: "Buckley says Welch is a wild extremist. You will be interested in the enclosed letter which bears out what Bob has been saying. Perhaps later events will show that Bob is not extreme enough." The enclosed letter is from JBS Coordinator S.C. Lyons of Dry Branch GA -- copied below:
02/13/62 = Robert Welch "To The Members Of Our Council And The Seven or Eight Friends Regularly Invited to COUNCIL Meetings": "We have no intention of fighting back against the present widespread, and carefully coordinated, attacks on us from the Right. The Communists, with approximately three percent of a population, take over one nation after another and impose the brutal tyranny of that three percent on the other ninety-seven percent. Obviously, they could not do this without beguiling good anti-Communists into carrying the ball, and disparaging or destroying other anti-Communists, for them. We certainly do not wish to help the Communists in this purpose. And so, to the constant barrage of questions from AP, UPI, and others we have answered simply 'No Comment', and we intend to continue doing so."
With respect to the impact which all the critics had on the JBS, Welch claims on page 2 of this document that "in the past nine days -- since I left for California and while the storm was at its worst -- we have received one resignation due to all of the criticism, five resignations from members in Texas (all of them in one chapter) who want to put their full time and energy into working for General Walker, and no more."
These comments by Welch are significant for several reasons:
(1) First, it establishes yet again, that what Welch and the JBS have always described as the "smear attack" against the JBS was not just a left-wing phenomenon. Very prominent conservatives also took major exception to the viewpoints expressed by Welch and the JBS.
(2) Second, Welch's comment regarding how Communists "beguile good anti-Communists" into "disparaging or destroying other anti-Communists for them" is an argument that easily could apply to the Birch Society itself. In fact, one of the most frequent themes expressed in letters addressed to J. Edgar Hoover from concerned citizens around the country was to inquire whether or not the FBI considered the JBS to be a genuine patriotic anti-Communist organization. Many letter-writers expressed the sentiment that perhaps the JBS was a Communist-front organization whose purpose was to confuse, attack, and demoralize legitimate anti-Communist forces in the U.S.
(3) Third, Welch's rejection of ALL criticisms directed toward himself and the JBS is a perfect circular argument. His formula provides a permanent flawless intellectual escape hatch from ever acknowledging error. Every adverse comment or adverse development is always characterized as part of a plot by Communists to destroy both him and the JBS.
Welch also predicted that Richard Nixon "is in serious trouble. He may lose the nomination for the California governorship to Joe Shell. If he wins the nomination there is even more chance that he will lose the election to Pat Brown. In either case his political career would be over." Nixon went on to win the nomination over Shell with 65% of the Republican vote. He did lose to Pat Brown (by only 5%) but his political career certainly was not over -- since a few years later he became President of the United States!
03/10/62 = T. Coleman Andrews announced his resignation at the JBS Council meeting in Chicago. However, by letter to Robert Welch dated 3/29/62, he withdrew the resignation: "After further consideration given in response to your request and that of other members of the Council, I have decided to withdraw my resignation...I agree, however, that more than one question of principle is involved, particularly that the resignation of anyone from the Council at this time would be incorrectly construed by the critics of yourself and the Council and the public would be unaware of what the true reasons might be. As everyone well knows, I don't think the John Birch Society has anything to apologize for to anyone. On the contrary, I feel that we have everything to be proud of. The reason we have come under attack is that we have been effective."
It appears that Andrews decided to resign from the Council on at least three occasions but he always changed his mind. A March 16, 1962 letter to Andrews from fellow Council member M.T. Phelps states that the reason why Andrews had tendered his resignation from the Council was related to Robert Welch's statements and conclusions in his "private letter", The Politician.
Phelps told Andrews: "Let us assume that the conclusion reached was unreasonable and wholly unjustified. As we all know it was an opinion expressed before the John Birch Society was organized and I suspect 90% or more of the membership do not agree with it and even though Mr. Welch is still of the same view, as long as he does not publicize it and in view of the fact that so much depends on the growth of conservatism in the United States, I want to urge you to remain in the organization. Your resignation would weaken the Society very much." JBS Council members A.G. Heinsohn, W.B. McMillan, and Louis Ruthenberg also write Andrews to ask him to reconsider his resignation. McMillan also addresses Andrews' concern over Welch's comments about Eisenhower. "We who were at Indianapolis know full well that Bob's statement with respect to Eisenhower was never accepted by those present and was never a part of The John Birch Society by specific action at that time, and I think it was highly unfortunate that he made the I felt somewhat uncalled for statement the other day on the same subject, but again, I certainly don't expect everybody to agree with every conclusion I have personally reached when someone else with the same set of facts come to a different conclusion, and that is about what this situation amounts to."
03/13/62 =After the conservative magazine, National Review, published its highly critical article about Robert Welch and the Birch Society (see 2/13/62 entry above), JBS National Council member A.G. Heinsohn Jr. wrote a sarcastic letter to National Review editor, William F. Buckley, Jr. -- copied below.
03/16/62 = JBS National Council member Spruille Braden sends a letter to Council member Clarence Manion which reveals the disagreement among National Council members concerning the role which Robert Welch should play in the JBS. The harsh criticisms of Welch by Sen. Barry Goldwater, Sen. John Tower, and National Review magazine (among other prominent conservatives) triggers a major discussion among JBS National Council members. Braden's letter to Manion is copied below, along with a similar letter to Robert H. Montgomery. In February 1963, Braden resigned from the National Council.
03/16/62 = After a March 10, 1962 JBS National Council meeting, Council member Robert H. Montgomery sends Tom Anderson a letter containing a proposed Council statement expressing support for Welch which was to be published in the April 1962 JBS Bulletin. In its customary fashion -- all criticism of Welch or the JBS is characterized as "Communist-inspired".
04/02/62 = Council member Fred Koch letter to Robert Welch: "Dear Bob: I heartily concur with Tom Anderson's letter in which he suggests putting out the truth about the John Birch Society. We have been on the defensive too long." Koch referred to a 3/30/62 letter by Anderson to Robert Welch in which he stated: "For a long while I have had the feeling that the John Birch Society should publish a paperback book to give the truth about the John Birch Society...Several Council members could colloborate on the book--or maybe it would be a good idea to have Council member write one chapter...The suggested title would be something like 'The Truth About The John Birch Society'...We have been too much on the defensive. Too long have we sat by and allowed the opposition to publish their lies and misinformation, unchallenged."
05/07/62 = Welch "To All Members Of The COUNCIL" - announces that the following individuals were being invited to attend the next Council meeting at Union League Club in Chicago on Saturday, May 26, 1962: Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker, Ezra Taft Benson, Strom Thurmond, and H.L. Hunt.
05/17/62 = JBS National Council member Paul H. (Tex) Talbert (Beverly Hills CA) sends a letter to Cola G. Parker of Neenah WI with carbon copies to all other JBS National Council members concerning the forthcoming publication of a Report on the Birch Society resulting from a 2-year investigation by the California Senate Factfinding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities. This Subcommittee conducted the only official governmental investigation ever made of the JBS. The Report was ultimately released in 1963 with an update in the Subcommittee's 1965 Report.
The Report was completed April 1, 1962. However, that same week, one Subcommittee member died and another was hospitalized. The California Senate adjourned before the Subcommittee (including one new member) could vote on authorizing release of the Report. However, Paul Talbert obtained an advance copy. He told Cola Parker that....
"I am convinced the report is good and too favorable to the John Birch Society. The natural conclusion is that it was too 'hot' to handle for an election year and too devastating against Governor Brown and Attorney General Mosk. I talked to the Chief Investigator for the Committee yesterday for an hour and am to meet him in Los Angeles next week for further consultation. Confidentially, I can state that he is 100% on our side." [The Chief Investigator was Richard E. Combs.]
05/28/62 = Welch "To All Members Of The COUNCIL": "As recommended by some members of the COUNCIL at our meeting on Saturday, May 26, a special bank account has been opened through which contributions may be made for The John Birch Society without being made to the Society. Whenever or wherever this arrangement may be helpful, checks should be made out simply to Escrow Account No. 78, and mailed either directly to us, or to the County Bank and Trust Company, 515 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge 39, Massachusetts. In either case the money will immediately be made available for our use but the name of the Society will not appear on the check, in the endorsement, or anywhere in the transaction so far as the donor is concerned."
06/03/62 = Five members of the JBS National Council [Robert H. Montgomery, Thomas J. Anderson, Stillwell J. Conner, Revilo P. Oliver, and Slobodan M. Draskovich] comprise a panel entitled "Our Council Speaks" to recruit new JBS members and address criticisms of the JBS. The flyer advertising their 6/30/62 appearance in the Flick-Reedy Auditorium (Bensenville IL) describes their purpose as: "This will be the first in a series of educational efforts to carry our story to more and more of the American people. All members are urged to attend and to invite their concerned friends to attend...Let them hear about the John Birch Society AS IT REALLY IS from the lips of five of its distinguished and able Council members." Significantly, within four years, 2 of the 5 will resign from the Society while making extremely critical remarks about Robert Welch.
A subsequent "Our Council Speaks" event in Columbus, OH in January 1963 was comprised of Clarence E. Manion, T. Coleman Andrews, Robert D. Love, Thomas J. Anderson, and Stillwell J. Conner. Below is copied a JBS flyer about the event which also lists JBS endorsers around the country. Council members who participated in the "Our Council Speaks" programs, were paid a $300 honorarium according to a 2/14/63 letter by Robert Welch to Crawley F. Joyner III of Richmond VA.
06/12/62 = Cong. John Rousselot enters into the Congressional Record a document entitled "Beliefs and Principles of the John Birch Society".
06/25/62 = Former JBS National Council member, Dr. Granville Knight, sends Robert Welch a letter which will give readers an understanding of the underlying mindset by which Birchers interpreted the world in 1962 --- which is remarkably similar in tone and substance to political discourse in year 2011:
"I cannot help but wonder at times as to how effective any person or organization can be without efforts to expose the roots of the conspiracy. You have certainly been vindicated as far as stressing internal subversion is concerned by what has happened in the past year. We obviously have a Fabian Socialist in the White House and he is surrounded by his cohorts...It is quite possible that the international bankers are playing a part in the recent stock market debacle...It seems to me tht we have to deal with Fabian Socialists, the Communists, the international bankers, the illuminati and cooperatives. There seems to be a struggle between these groups for world domination and whether or not they are guided by a small group using all the rest is conjectural. As long as we are at the mercy of the Federal Reserve System and those who control it, together with the slavery of the graduated income tax, there seems to be little hope of making real progress."
07/03/62 = Robert Welch letter to Sen. James Eastland (MS) informs the Senator that the Birch Society has spent several thousand dollars to include with its July 1962 JBS Bulletin, a copy of Eastland's speech entitled "Is The Supreme Court Pro-Communist?" which originally was published by The Patrick Henry Group in Richmond VA.
Welch tells Eastland that: "...I agreed one hundred percent" with the statements made by Eastland in the pamphlet. Welch closes his letter with: "So let's hope that this increased distribution---to the very people throughout the country who will be most interested in reading your speech---will bring your great effort an added effectiveness which will make this cost seem well worthwhile. With admiration for both your patriotism and your courage, and with all good wishes, I am, Sincerely, Robert Welch."
JBS praise of, and support for, segregationist politicians like Eastland is one reason why the Birch Society has often been characterized as racist. Significantly, Sen. Eastland sought and received Klan support for his re-election campaigns and according to principals involved, he "pulled strings" to prevent prosecution of Klan members who murdered civil rights workers in 1964. Significantly, this information came from an FBI informant inside the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi -- the most violent Klan in our country. That FBI informant (Rev. Delmar Dennis) was a JBS member who remained a segregationist after testifying against Klan members. Dennis subsequently was hired by the JBS as a Coordinator and speaker.
08/14/62 = Tom Anderson sends letter to Robert Welch advising him that as a favor to Ezra Taft Benson he is going to speak under the auspices of All-American Society (founded by former FBI Special Agent and JBS endorser W. Cleon Skousen) in Salt Lake City on September 6th. According to Anderson: "One of the main purposes of this meeting is to help Reed Benson's candidacy for the Congress."
09/06/62 = Criticisms of Welch and the JBS from prominent conservatives around the country were frequent by 1962. In a 9/6/62 letter to Tom Anderson, Welch expresses his frustration over recent comments made by then-Governor George Romney of Michigan:
9/30/62 = At 6:30 am on this date, Ashland F. Burchwell was arrested in Dallas TX by local police for speeding. Upon searching his vehicle, police discovered a large cache of arms and ammunition---including 1000 rounds of .22 caliber ammunition, 2000 rounds of .30-06 rifle ammunition, and a .357 magnum pistol, and an Army rifle.
Burchwell explained to police that he was on his way to Mississippi to aid Governor Ross Barnett's anti-integration position with respect to the University of Mississippi. Dallas police determined that Burchwell worked as a secretary for JBS member, Major Gen. Edwin A. Walker, who was also in Mississippi to protest integration of Old Miss. Burchwell served in Walker's U.S. Army Division in Germany before Walker was relieved of his command.
The Dallas Police Criminal Intelligence Section sent a report to their local Army Intelligence office which stated that they also discovered in Burchwell's car, a small cardboard file box plus 5x8 index cards which listed names, addresses, and phone numbers plus dues payments and codes pertaining to arms, ammunition, clothing, and supplies for what appeared to be a guerrilla force. Many of the people listed were JBS members or JBS endorsers such as: Dan Smoot, Joseph Grinnan (JBS Coordinator in Dallas), Dr. Medford Evans, Robert E. Hatfield, Robert A. Surrey, Bill Smith (JBS Coordinator), Mrs. Charles Powell.
10/8/62 = Robert Welch memo "To All Members Of Our COUNCIL" discusses the controversy over JBS member, General Edwin A. Walker:
"We have been flooded with letters, telegrams and long distance calls from all over the United States, many of them demanding my individual attention...Roughly two-thirds of these communications are from members -- both influential members and plain hardworking patriots -- who think we have 'let Walker down'. These range all the way from those who are mildly disappointed and critical; through those who say that if we are not going to use The John Birch Society organization to back General Walker then they are going to form separate organizations of their own for that specific purpose; to those who insisted the time had come to get out the guns, march to Springfield, Missouri, and rally behind a great patriotic General who was determined to save his country while there was still time." ...
"But from the point of view of the Society, there are still other factors involved, some of which we do not think it wise to discuss specifically even here. For one thing, General Walker has not only been guided by the advice of Medford Evans and, increasingly of late and especially with regard to the Mississippi situation, of Evetts Haley, and not only does that advice seem to many of us to leave much to be desired in the matter of soundness; but much more recently Walker has also been listening to advice from another source, and refusing to pay any attention to those who have tried to caution him about this source, and it is one which we do not trust at all, even as to good intentions. There is, in our opinion, danger of some very serious embarrassment to a lot of good Conservatives and even to the Conservative cause in general, if Walker continues to listen to that advice, or takes any overt actions based on it, or even merely gets himself definitely associated with this source. And since General Walker is noted for his obstinacy, we have to be as careful as we can not to let ourselves be dragged into this association in any way, even at the expense of having two thirds of our members angry and many of them even resigning or threatening to do so because we are not giving Walker 'the support which he should have.' And the report that we have 'abandoned' Walker is now being deliberately spread all over New York City, and among the Conservatives in many other places, to hurt the Society."
NOTE: The "source" whom Welch refers to as exerting a noxious influence upon Walker is a reference to Walker's involvement with the anti-semitic crowd which, at that time, owned American Mercury [AM] magazine [first, Russell Maguire and then Gerald Winrod's organization, Defenders of the Christian Faith and later Willis Carto's Legion for the Survival of Freedom. In September 1962, the AM was sold to the Defenders of the Christian Faith and Walker was one of the purchasers. He also became Military Editor for the AM.]
Item #4 in this Welch report discusses "The New Form of Attacks On The Society. Having tried many other methods, the Left has now embarked on a whole series of separate but closely related efforts to weaken and destroy the Society. And our enemies are certainly and subtly pouring on these efforts, everywhere...Another form of the attack is in the extensive, emphatic, and almost violent spread of anti-Semitic theories. In many areas, our members are having it preached directly to them, and indirectly to them through other organizations and in other ways where the direct approach is not practicable...This movement is now so intensive and extensive that there is no doubt in my mind about its being part of a coordinated and carefully planned overall drive to destroy the Society. And because the ordinary American Jews do not realize that they are being just as misled and falsely represented by Communists in their ranks and their leadership, as our Methodists, for instance, by left-wingers high up in the hierarchy of their denomination, or even Catholics by a comparatively few but still very powerful and influential extreme left-wingers in strategic spots even in their clergy, it is fairly easy to inflame a lot of otherwise good Americans into believing the extremist nonsense, putting all of their efforts behind this terribly gross over-simplification of the problem, and giving up all other effort, organized or otherwise, for fighting the Communists. This drive is right now making a lot of damaging headway."
Item #5 by Welch: "Parallel to the above, as a problem increasingly to be faced, is the use by the Communists of agents provocateurs with regard to overt acts, rather than just ideological persuasion to extremism. We have already seen some of this, as in the case of the bombs which were exploded in the homes of the ministers in California--who were speaking on radio programs, at the very time, against 'extremists' like The John Birch Society -- in such a manner as to do as little damage as possible to the homes, but as much damage as possible to the Society. This is standard Communist technique--which DeGaulle used brazenly and repeatedly, for instance, to discredit the OAS and other anti-Communists in both Algeria and France itself -- and of which we shall be seeing increasing samples in this country, aimed at anti-Communists in general but some of them at the John Birch Society in particular."
10/27/62 = The JBS issued a press release announcing that Reed A. Benson (eldest son of Ezra Taft Benson) "was appointed today as the Utah Coordinator of the John Birch Society...His father, Ezra Taft Benson, on being questioned regarding his son's decision, stated: 'I have known of my son Reed's interest in The John Birch Society, which he has been studying for several months. I have also read the Blue Book and other basic materials of the Society and have met the leaders and several prominent Americans who are members. The organization is, I am convinced, the most effective non-church organization in our fight against creeping socialism and godless Communism. I admire Reed's courage and applaud his decision.' "
12/11/62 = George S. Birch, the father of John Birch, writes to the Editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper (Eugene Patterson) because of comments in a published article about the circumstances of his son's death. Mr. and Mrs. George Birch were life members of the Birch Society. George also wrote letters to J. Edgar Hoover protesting similar comments about his son made by Gordon D. Hall--a lecturer on extremists. Copied below is George Birch's letter to Patterson and then comments made by Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of John Birch.
Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer (Washington DC Evening Star, 4/11/61, pA5, “Wedemeyer Hits Welch’s Birch Story”):
“General Albert C. Wedemeyer has refused to join the John Birch Society and has accused its founder, Robert H.W. Welch Jr., of distorting the circumstances surrounding the death of the Society’s namesake, according to a North American Newspaper Alliance report.
As Mr. Welch tells the story, John Birch, a missionary turned Army intelligence officer, was killed by Chinese Communists 10 days after the end of World War II. He has described him as ‘the first casualty’ of the cold war and has charged the Pentagon with attempting to suppress the facts of the Birch case at the behest of hidden pro-Soviet forces.
‘That just isn’t true’ says Gen. Wedemeyer, who was the American commander in China at the time of Birch’s death. ‘I just can’t believe that the case was hushed up. I had sent a full report to Washington at the time. As I recall, I reported that the unfortunate episode had been provoked by Birch’s arrogant behavior toward a Communist patrol.’
“General Wedemeyer said Birch ‘was only one of a number of brave courageous Americans who were killed in one incident or another about the same time. Why Birch should have been singled out for special attention is beyond my comprehension.’ ”
General Albert Wedemeyer (Newsweek, 12/4/61)
"I knew John Birch, as a captain in China, when I was out there during the war. Birch was one of a number of men who participated in operations in China, parachuted behind enemy lines. He provoked the attack on himself; he was arrogant. I warned Welch not to make a hero of Birch. That's why I quit as an adviser. I think Welch is a dedicated, fine American but he lacks good judgment."
12/26/62 = National Council member William J. Grede sends letters to other Council members announcing the formation of a National Finance Committee for the JBS, of which he is Chairman. Grede observed: "In the four years since the Society was founded it has, we believe, already become the strongest and most effective anti-Communist group in the United States, and certainly the one which the Communist themselves fear the most." The initial Finance Committee memo is copied below:
1/17/63 = Thomas J. Davis, a JBS Major Coordinator headquartered in Stamford CT, sent a 7-page single-spaced typed letter to Robert Welch to explain why he and other JBS officials had terminated the employment of Richmond VA JBS Coordinator George S. Petley because "he was not suited for this work".
Petley had replaced Bryton Barron in June 1961. Barron resigned from the JBS after making very derogatory statements about Robert Welch (see my former entry regarding the Barron matter.) The controversy over Petley's dismissal resulted in several letters to/from Robert Welch and National Council member T. Coleman Andrews, a friend of Petley, along with letters from many JBS members who were displeased with the manner in which Petley was treated.
Davis met with local chapter members and his letter to Welch reported that: "The members were quite concerned over the manner in which George was dropped, and charged that we were ruthless in our handling of the matter; that George was an excellent leader, and that his territory was very difficult...At that meeting, I stayed with our official version of the reason for his release, namely, that we could not maintain Coordinators who did not sufficiently build the membership of the Society in their area." Attached to the Davis letter to Welch was a detailed report regarding Petley's deficiencies. Among the problems, according to Davis, is that Petley appointed a Section Leader in one Virginia city who not only was totally unsuited for that position but "much more serious, he was anti-Semitic and made these attitudes known to the membership, and passed out quantities of material of which the Society totally disapproved."
A subsequent report by Thomas N. Hill and William E. Dunham mentions that when Petley started in 1961, the JBS had 15 chapters in Virginia and when he was terminated (in 1963) there were 19. Petley started four chapters in Maryland.
In a January 23, 1963 letter to Petley, Robert Welch stated:
"It seemed to me, as I first began to be worried about the Virginia situation many months ago -- and after having had such high hopes for what you could accomplish when we first sent you there -- that the basic trouble was immaturity of judgment. One of the earliest indications of this was your recommendation, when you thought you and your efforts were being hurt by rumors that you were Jewish, that we actually make a statement in the Bulletin of the Society, for the whole United States, that Mr. George Petley, our Virginia Coordinator, was not Jewish."
03/14/63 = T. Coleman Andrews sends a letter to Robert Welch to announce, yet again, that he plans to resign from the JBS National Council. On April 4, 1963, Welch replies and tells Andrews "we simply could not afford to lose you as a member of our COUNCIL -- especially at the present time, when we are just beginning to make such remarkable headway again..." On April 11, Andrews replies by agreeing to wait until the next Council meeting when he can "discuss the matter with other members of the Council and reach a decision." He subsequently decides to remain on the Council.
06/18/63 = Robert Welch "To All Coordinators, Section Leaders and Chapter Leaders": "Although the Supreme Court decision, forbidding the reading of the Bible or the recital of the Lord's Prayer in the schools, had been anticipated, it still seems almost unbelievable. It is obvious that the Warren-led Court intends, step by step, to declare the whole Constitution of the United States unconstitutional. Two of the most important of all the aims of the Communists are: (1) To promote strife and bitterness, and civil war wherever possible, over racial and religious differences; and (2) to destroy all religion (because the Communists simply cannot permit any loyalty to God, man, or nation, but only to themselves.) For several years it has been evident, and each month it becomes more evident, that the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren is determined to do all it can, as rapidly as it dares, to help the Communists to carry out these aims in our country."
08/01/63 = Robert Welch "To Members of the COUNCIL": Welch sends each Council member a suggested letter which he asks them to send to Ezra Taft Benson, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Sen. Strom Thurmond and Charles Edison – in order to encourage each of the 4 men to accept Welch’s invitation to become members of the JBS National Council.
08/12/63 = Chicago National Council member Slobodan M. Draskovich sends a letter and 22-page attachment (entitled "Let Us Face The Truth") to Robert Welch and all National Council members. The cover letter to Welch and several pages of the attachment are copied below. Draskovich's argument is that the JBS educational program is not commensurate to the conspiratorial problem confronted by our country and, consequently, is doomed to failure.
Draskovich laments "the lack of strong leadership in the JBS" because the JBS commander-in-chief "is spending a great deal of his time in self-examination, self-analysis, self-explanation, and self-justification."
He then complains about Council meetings "where no room is left for proper criticism and discussion of issues and strategy". Draskovich declares that the JBS is "being weakened by our timidity, our tediousness, by our frightened search for recognition, respectability, and acceptance..." to the point where "the JBS is evidently and progressively failing in its mission. The relationship of forces between the communist conspiracy and the forces of Americanism, which in the months and few first years following the creation of the JBS was turning in our favor, is again turning against us. The knowledge about the communist conspiracy is growing, but the faith in victory, in the imperative need to do our utmost and invest everything we have into the battle, is definitely disappearing. And this is because the JBS promise that it means business all the way has acquired a hollow ring, unrelated to our actual policies. We are not doing our utmost to alarm, to arouse, to infuriate, to inspire, to organize and to lead the American people into the decisive battles toward victory.”
Draskovich continues: “The enemy is acting and training all the time and keeping in shape for any coming eventuality. We are not acting and we are not ready for action, we are not keeping in fighting trim for the decisive engagements which are before us. Has our leadership thought about the problems and situations most likely to face us in the immediate future, has it worked out plans and prepared its members to meet the emergencies?”
Among the problems which Draskovich lists as distinct possibilities:
“What do we do if we are exposed to physical violence, to beatings, individual and collective? What do we do if it comes to a racial civil war, fostered and encouraged by the New Frontier? What do we do if we are jailed on whatever ground or without any ground, as General Walker was several months ago? Do we keep $50,000 bail money ready for every member of the JBS?” …
“If we had ten, twenty, thirty or more years before us, all of this would not be so urgent. But, as everybody knows, especially in the JBS, very little time remains. We see the enemies’ whites of their eyes, but instead of shooting and beating them back and inflicting them an irreparable defeat, we let them infiltrate our ramparts and wreak havoc, while we play Sunday school teachers to the American people. We are having nice, harmless tea parties against the criminals and traitors.”
2/9/64 = National Council member Revilo P. Oliver sends a 4-page “Confidential” letter to Council member Tom Anderson (copied below) which advocates creation of a Board of Strategy for the JBS. Oliver contends that five National Council members had agreed about the need for such a Board at the recent National Council meeting in Chicago.
Oliver lists 9 reasons why such a Board is necessary. He devotes the most space to discussion of comments made over the name of Robert Welch in a lengthy pamphlet entitled “The Neutralizers” which, writes Oliver, was “seriously diminishing our prestige through demonstrably erroneous or grossly inaccurate statements of fact and highly improbable allegations that we are acting as a cat’s paw for the Defamation League [Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith] which is one of the most viciously anti-American criminal gangs in the country and is widely (and not implausibly) suspected of being an arm of the Communist Conspiracy”.
This letter is significant for several reasons, chief among them the fact that Oliver did not disguise his obvious anti-semitic sentiments.
The idea of Strategy Committee for the JBS was adopted. The first members were: Tom Anderson, Milorad (aka Dan) Draskovich, Robert Love, Clarence (aka Pat) Manion, and Revilo Oliver. See 3/6/64 entry below for additional information.
"We stayed by that arrangement through many months, Peg, when each of your articles was simply rehashing the same old bitter personal paragraphs about the Roosevelts and the Kennedys and a few of your other betes noirs -- such as members of the Hearst family -- in rambling and repetitive diatribes. You were using our magazine to give vent to your personal spleen in language and in disorganized sequences which I do not believe any other reputable periodical in America would have published. But we did out best to go along with you patiently, despite the fact that these articles were hurting us more than they would have hurt anybody else, because of the intended tone and purpose of American Opinion, and because of its great indebtedness to the loyal support of members of The John Birch Society. In fact, Peg, you were steadily tearing down, in many ways, what I had been years in the building."
In his letter to Pegler, Welch provided a lot of data not generally known about himself and the JBS. Some examples:
* As of 2/64, the JBS had 150 employees, a payroll of over $22,000 per week, printing bills from one prineter of over $12,000 per week
* Welch's book, May God Forgive Us, sold 200,000 copies during its first year and his book, The Life of John Birchsold 35,000 copies during its first year.
* Welch believed that conservative author/columnist Eugene Lyons "had clearly been responsible for publication of the article by Col. Kintner, in The Reader's Digest which -- whatever its title and ostensible theme -- seemed to me to have been written and published primarily for the damage it could to the Society and myself." [Welch refers to Kintner's article in the 5/62 issue of Reader's Digest entitled "The Insidious Campaign To Silence Anti-Communists" which discussed the JBS in negative terms.]
* As a result of Pegler's attacks upon Eugene Lyons in two articles appearing in American Opinion magazine, J.B. Matthews resigned from the masthead of AO.
* Welch claimed that by October 1963, as a consequence of Pegler's vitriolic articles, "we were receiving so much mail from so many of our most influential and most dedicated members of the Society, completely washing their hands of anything further to do with American Opinion, that our subscriptions and our newsstand sales...were both dropping off in disturbing fashion. At the very same time, while we were losing money every month on American Opinion...we were now suffering even heavier drops in the direct contributions to the Society by these influential and affluential members who had become disgusted or disturbed at the Pegler ramblings. The protests were numerous, and many of them were emphatic. It is my best guess that we lost about ten thousand dollars per month in contributions, for this reason, during the three fall months, October through December."
* The Warren Commission had been appointed "for the obvious and specific purpose of shifting the blame for the assassination onto the 'hatemongers' known as The John Birch Society, and to convince the whole country through a controlled press that we had been and were stirring up hatred which was really responsible for the crime...This deliberate program of the Warren crowd, backed by the full power of the present administration, is an extremely serious matter to tens of thousands of wonderfully patriotic and truly good people in The John Birch Society."
3/6/64 = The JBS Executive Committee received a copy of the Strategy Committee report. One of the recommendations was creation of a 3-person team stationed at JBS HQ in Belmont MA which would approve all major policy decisions involving public relations, American Opinion magazine, the JBS Bulletin, and JBS finances – thus taking such matters out of the sole control by Robert Welch. The idea was not adopted.
3/11/64 = Eric L. Pridonoff sends out a memo stating that he has become Chairman of the Life Membership Program of the JBS. His memo states that in 1963, the JBS spent $100,000 for hiring Coordinators and providing them equipment which resulted in a 300% increase in JBS membership in California.
4/64 = Robert Welch asked Council member Tom Anderson to become Southern District Governor for the JBS. Anderson declined the offer by letter dated 4/16/64. He pointed out that he had just returned from a speaking engagement at a District Rotary Convention and "I was told that some people refused to attend my speech because they knew I was a John Bircher. But I did reach many others, who either did not know or did not particularly care. But could I have reached them at all as a paid employee?"
07/64 = The JBS began a recruitment project entitled "JBS Personal Letter Campaign". The idea was for members to contact potential supporters by using different types of letters with enclosures which would be coded so that it could be determined which packet was the most effective and productive. One proposed letter enclosed a copy of the JBS reprint “The Time Has Come”. Another letter enclosed a copy of John Stormer’s conspiracy classic 1964 book, None Dare Call It Treason. A third letter enclosed a copy of a speech by Ezra Taft Benson.
A final letter enclosed a copy of the published version of Welch’s “private letter” entitled The Politician. The sample letter for this stated:
“This is the last of the series. I have imposed on your time and your patience in this manner for two important reasons: (1) To emphasize the seriousness with which many thoughtful people now regard the danger to our country from the Communist conspiracy; and (2) to make you aware of the importance of the John Birch Society in the fight against this conspiracy, and of the needs of the Society for greater and more rapid growth. Enclosed with this final letter is another book, The Politician. Directly or indirectly, it helps to drive home both points. Read The Politician and judge it for yourself. Then judge for yourself the frightening situation, of which only one small part is described by the history in this book. I hope that the result will be a willingness on your part to help us all you can – in what I believe to be the most determined and most effective effort in America to ward off the imminent and tremendous danger to our freedom and our lives.”
8/18/64 = National Council member Tom Anderson sends a letter to John Stormer, author of the 1964 book, None Dare Call It Treason which advises Stormer that Anderson mentioned the book in an August column he wrote. By mid-August the number of requests for the book was so great that Anderson asked Stormer for a price quote on 5000 books.
10/28/64 = JBS Public Relations Director John Rousselot sends Robert Welch a list of newspapers which are publishing a JBS advertising supplement -- and the cost for each paper.
11/06/64 = JBS National Council member Clarence Manion responds to an inquiry from a friend who asked him if he agreed with Robert Welch's comments about President Eisenhower. In reply, Manion quoted a comment he made about Welch's evaluation of Eisenhower on a Chicago TV program (letter copied below):
"I certainly do repudiate any statement by Mr. Welch or by anybody else to the effect that President Eisenhower was a knowing member of the Communist conspiracy." Manion added: "I have always regarded any such statement as unwise and untrue and I have been quoted in the press to that effect on many occasions."
11/18/64 – 11/23/64 = J. Edgar Hoover holds an unusual 3-hour press conference on 11/18/64. During this conference he answers questions about the just-released Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President Kennedy, plus other subjects.
A reporter asked Hoover about his opinion of Robert Welch. Welch replied that he had no respect for Welch.
FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson recognizes the impact which Hoover's statement is likely to have -- so he sends Hoover a memo on 11/20 asking for his approval to use a standard reply to the anticipated deluge of inquiries which the FBI expected to receive about the matter. Tolson's memo is copied below. Hoover handwrote "Yes" on Tolson's suggested wording.
Subsequently, both Robert Welch and JBS PR Director John Rousselot wrote to Hoover to inquire if press reports about Hoover’s comment concerning Welch were accurate. Copied below is Welch’s 11/20/64 letter plus Hoover’s 11/23/64 reply.
The following scanned items are copies of the Financial Reports prepared by the Birch Society's CPA firm, Spark, Mann and Company of Boston MA.
The Birch Society was comprised of several corporate entities. The first document is on the JBS itself -- then the second document pertains to Robert Welch, Inc. -- the publishing arm of the Society.
I have additional financial reports which the JBS submitted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- which I will scan and post in the future.
02/19/65 = The President, the FBI and the Justice Department received thousands of letters inquiring or complaining about the Birch Society. Many times, correspondents wanted to know why the Birch Society was not designated as a subversive organization--just like the Ku Klux Klan.
J. Walter Yeagley (Assistant Attorney General, Internal Security Division of the Justice Department) answered one such inquiry in February 1965, copied below.
10/11/65 = JBS Public Relations Director John Rousselot addressed a Testimonial Dinner for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Welch in Los Angeles. Among the accomplishments of the JBS which Rousselot listed were: "340 bookstores across the country, 75 full-time field men; over 100 books on many subjects; the official magazine [of the JBS, American Opinion] has over 50 thousand circulation; over one thousand lectures and speakers are scheduled for the coming year..."
11/04/65 = JBS National Council member Dr. Thomas Parker sent a letter to Robert Welch to address the ongoing debate within the JBS about whether or not the official JBS motto should be revised to include the phrase "under God". Parker's letter is copied below. Parker's letter is significant because aside from the substantive matter under consideration it reveals the omnipresent mindset within the JBS -- i.e. that the JBS will always be under "attack" by "enemies". In short, there is never a legitimate, honorable, alternative, competing point of view.
11/23/65 = National Council member Slobodan Draskovich corresponded with fellow Council member Revilo Oliver about the proposal to add the phrase "under God" to the official JBS motto. This letter is significant because, once again, it reveals the mindset at senior levels of the Society with respect to perceiving the unsavory character of ALL opponents of the JBS.
Oddly, while National Council members welcomed the input of Revilo Oliver on the "under God" matter, it appears they did not know that Oliver was a virulent atheist. In subsequent years, Oliver wrote essays for a neo-nazi magazine (Liberty Bell) which compared Christianity to spiritual syphilis!
12/09/65 = The JBS 7th Anniversary Testimonial Dinner is held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago IL. The Master of Ceremonies was G. Edward Griffin. Griffin established one the first chapters of the JBS in the Los Angeles area and he served as a Chapter Leader, Section Leader, and a Major Coordinator. He also headed the Audio-Visual Department of the JBS. Griffin was designated by Robert Welch as one of only four individuals who could serve as official spokesmen for the JBS. The other three were Robert Welch, John Rousselot, and Reed Benson.
An official JBS pamphlet produced for this event stated that:
"The Society now has from a few to several hundred chapters in each of the forty-eight continental states and Alaska. It has Home Chapter members in all fifty states and in many foreign countries. It has between 240 and 250 employees, including a field staff of between seventy and seventy-five Coordinators and Major Coordinators, with a total payroll of between $35,000 and $40,000 per week. It has hundreds of Section Leaders, plus thousands of Chapter Leaders who devote a tremendous amount of time and effort to the Society without any pay, even as to their expenses."
12/13/65 = JBS member Ben Klassen of Pompano Beach FL makes arrangements for JBS National Council member Tom Anderson to speak under the auspices of the JBS Speakers Bureau before the Fact Finders Forum of Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale FL) on 1/13/66. Klassen would later resign from the Society with a very caustic denunciation of Robert Welch for his dumbing-down of JBS members so that they did not recognize the "Jewish" component of the Master Conspiracy.
Klassen went on to found the racist and anti-semitic Church of the Creator and the Nationalist White Party. In 1970, he co-authored a pamphlet entitled "50 Phony Arguments Used By Kosher Conservatives To Confuse Gentiles" in which he declared that "communism is a Jewish conspiracy created to destroy the white race through mongrelization, annihilation, and degeneration."
Documentary History continued on this webpage: