John Birch Society

Founded in 1958 by Robert Welch

William F. Buckley, Jr. started the American Conservative Union -CPAC in 1964.

The Inside Story of William F. Buckley Jr.’s Crusade against the John Birch Society National Review  June 20, 2017 Editor’s Note: The following is Part Two of an excerpt from Alvin S. Felzenberg’s new book, A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. It is reprinted here with permission. Part One can be found here.“Of all the crusades William F. Buckley took on in his half century on the national political stage, none did more to cement his reputation as a gatekeeper of the conservative movement — or consumed more of his time — than that which he launched against the John Birch Society, an organization Robert Welch founded in 1958 and used as his personal vehicle to influence public policy. In 1961, Buckley complained to a supporter of both National Review and the JBS, “I have had more discussions about the John Birch Society in the past year than I have about the existence of God or the financial difficulties of NationalReview.

Buckley and Welch met in 1952. Their mutual publisher, Henry Regnery, introduced them and they maintained cordial relations throughout the 1950s. Despite their difference in age, they appeared, at first, to have much in common. Both were men of means. Each demonstrated strong organizational and communication skills. Each edited a political journal. Welch titled his One Man’s Opinion when he launched it in 1956. He changed its name to American Opinion after he founded the John Birch Society two years later. Buckley and Welch made it a point to support each other’s enterprises. In a note accompanying his second $1,000 contribution to National Review, Welch made a passing reference to President Eisenhower not being on the “same side” of the ideological divide as were he and Buckley. Buckley let the comment pass. Welch voiced doubts about Eisenhower’s loyalties again a year later. In a letter to Buckley, he spoke of “conscious treason in propelling our ship of state down its present dangerous course.” Welch informed Buckley of a new organization he had started. This was the John Birch Society.”