Documentary History of the John Birch Society



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.

Heinsohn-Buckley 3-13-62

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, theAM 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.

2/17/64 = Robert Welch sends Westbrook Pegler a 17-page single-spaced typed letter in response to Pegler's hostile telegram concerning non-payment for articles of his which were published in the JBS magazine, American Opinion.  Pegler was to receive $1000 for one article every month.  Welch tells Pegler:  

"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 Birch sold 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.


 Due to Google sites space limitations, the Documentary History of the John Birch Society is on 5 webpages here:

CHAPTER…..Time Period……………….URL

JBS 9-1 / 01/58 thru 08/11/60 =

JBS 9-2 / 09/60/60 thru 12/15/61 =

JBS 9-3 / 01/62 thru 12/31/64  =

JBS 9-4 / 01/65 thru 12/31/65 =

JBS 9-5 / 01/66 thru current =