Silver Legion of America

The Silver Legion of America, commonly known as the Silver Shirts, was an underground American fascist organization founded by William Dudley Pelley that was headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina[1] and announced publicly on January 30, 1933. The group was effectively dissolved on December 8, 1941 when police called for the open arrest of any individuals associated with the group.

Silver Legion of America
LeaderWilliam Dudley Pelley
FoundedJanuary 30, 1933
DissolvedDecember 7, 1941
IdeologyAmerican nationalism
White nationalism
Clerical fascism
Social conservatism
Antisemitism
Isolationism
Political positionFar-right
Party flag
Silver Legion of America

History

A white-supremacist, antisemitic group[2] modeled after Hitler's Brownshirts, the paramilitary Silver Legion wore a silver shirt with a blue tie, along with a campaign hat and blue corduroy trousers with leggings. The uniform shirts bore a scarlet letter L over the heart: an emblem meant to symbolize Loyalty to the United States, Liberation from materialism, and the Silver Legion itself. The blocky slab serif L-emblem was in a typeface similar to the present-day Rockwell Extra Bold. The organizational flag was a plain silver field with such a red L in the canton at the upper left.

By 1934, the Silver Shirts claimed to have about 15,000 members.[3] Circa 1935, a Nazi agent befriended mining fortune heiress Jessie Murphy, convincing her to contribute cash, and the use of her ranch, recently purchased from screen cowboy Will Rogers, to the fascist movement. The Silver Shirts began construction of the Murphy Ranch, situated on a secluded, 55-acre (22 ha) site in the Los Angeles hills, meant to serve as a fortified world headquarters after the expected fascist global conquest.[4]

Silver Shirt leader Pelley called for a "Christian Commonwealth" in America that would combine the principles of racism, nationalism, and theocracy, while excluding Jews and non-whites such as African-Americans[5]. He claimed he would save America from Jewish communists just as "Mussolini and his Black Shirts saved Italy and as Hitler and his Brown Shirts saved Germany."[6] Pelley ran for president of the United States in the 1936 election on a third-party ticket under the Christian Party banner. Pelley hoped to seize power in a "silver revolution" and set himself as dictator of the United States. He would be called "the Chief" just like other fascist world leaders who had similar titles such "The Fuhrer" for Adolf Hitler and "II Duce" for Benito Mussolini.[7] However, the presidency remained in the hands of incumbent Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. By around 1938, the Silver Legion's membership was down to about 5,000.[8]

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, local police occupied the "world headquarters" bunker compound and detained members of the 50-man caretaker force.[4] The declaration of war on the United States by Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy led to the rapid decline of the Silver Legion.

On January 20, 1942, Pelley was sentenced to serve two to three years in prison by Superior Court Judge F. Don Phillips, in Asheville, North Carolina, for violating terms of probation of a 1935 conviction for violating North Carolina security laws. The same sentence had been suspended pending good behavior, but the court found that during that period Pelley had published false and libelous statements, published inaccurate reports and advertising, and supported a secret military organization.[9]

In popular culture

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/THR-SS1.PDF "The Silver Shirts: Their History, Founder, and Axtivities". August 24, 1933
  2. ^ Van Ells, Mark D. (August 2007). "Americans for Hitler". americainwwii.com. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Silver Shirts". Holocaust Online. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Heil Hollywood: The Los Angeles bunker from which Hitler planned to run Nazi empire after the war". Daily Mail. London. 18 March 2012.
  5. ^ Schultz, Will. "William Dudley Pelley (1885-1965)". North Carolina History Project. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jews in America: Jewish Gangsters". Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "Pelley's Silver Shirts". Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  8. ^ Bernstein, Arnie (October 7, 2013). "6 Things You May Not Have Known About Nazis in America". The History Reader. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Associated Press, “Pelley of Silver Shirts Must Serve Prison Term,” The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday 21 January 1942, Volume 48, page 1.
  10. ^ It Can't Happen Here

Further reading

  • Allen, Joe "'It Can't Happen Here?': Confronting the Fascist Threat in the US in the Late 1930s," International Socialist Review, Part One: whole no. 85 (Sept.-Oct. 2012), pp. 26–35; Part Two: whole no. 87 (Jan.-Feb. 2013), pp. 19–28.
  • Atwood, Sarah (Winter 2018–2019). "'This List Not Complete': Minnesota's Jewish Resistance to the Silver Legion of America, 1936–1940". Minnesota History. 66 (4): 142–155. JSTOR 26554803.
  • Ribuffo, Leo Paul The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.
  • Spivak, John L. Secret Armies: The New Technique of Nazi Warfare. New York: Modern Age Books, 1939.
  • Werly, John The Millenarian Right: William Dudley Pelley and the Silver Legion of America. PhD dissertation. Syracuse University, 1972.
  • Yeadon, Glen. The Nazi Hydra in America. Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive Press, 2008.

External links

Archives

Blackshirts

The Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN, "Voluntary Militia for National Security"), commonly called the Blackshirts (Italian: Camicie Nere, CCNN, singular: Camicia Nera) or squadristi (singular: squadrista), was originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and, after 1923, an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy under Fascist rule. Its members were distinguished by their black uniforms (modelled on those of the Arditi, Italy's elite troops of World War I) and their loyalty to Benito Mussolini, the Duce (leader) of Fascism, to whom they swore an oath. The founders of the paramilitary groups were nationalist intellectuals, former army officers and young landowners opposing peasants' and country labourers' unions. Their methods became harsher as Mussolini's power grew, and they used violence and intimidation against Mussolini's opponents. In 1943, following the fall of the Fascist regime, the MVSN was integrated into the Royal Italian Army and disbanded.

Christian Party (United States, 1930s)

The Christian Party was an American fascist political party founded by William Dudley Pelley in 1935. The party can be considered the political wing of Pelley's paramilitary organization, the Silver Legion of America. It ran with Pelley as its candidate for the 1936 presidential campaign (Silver Legion member Willard Kemp was the vice presidential candidate). Pelley gained just 1,600 votes in the election. The party was quickly dissolved after the United States entered World War II.

Christofascism

Christofascism is a combination of Christian and fascism coined by Dorothee Sölle in 1970. Sölle, a liberation theology proponent, used the term to describe the Christian church which she characterized as totalitarian and imperialistic.

Clerical fascism

Clerical fascism (also clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) is an ideology that combines the political and economic doctrines of fascism with clericalism. The term has been used to describe organizations and movements that combine religious elements with fascism, support by religious organizations for fascism, or fascist regimes in which clergy play a leading role.

Fascism in New Zealand

Fascism in New Zealand has never gained much support, but the organised advocacy of fascist, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and anti-Semitic views has often been present in New Zealand to a limited extent.

Fascism in North America

Fascism in North America is composed of a set of related political movements in Canada, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere that were variants of fascism. Fascist movements in North America never realized power, unlike their counterparts in Europe. Although the geopolitical definition of North America varies, for the sake of convenience it can be assumed to include Central America and the Caribbean, where fascist variants also flourished.

Fascist paramilitary

A fascist paramilitary is a fighting force - whether armed, unarmed, or merely symbolic - that is independent of regular military command and is established for the defence and advancement of a movement that adheres to the radical nationalist ideology of fascism. Since fascism is such a militarist ideology, there are very few varieties of fascism where paramilitaries do not play a central role, and some kind of paramilitary participation is almost always a basic requirement of membership in fascist movements. Fascist paramilitaries have seen action in both peacetime and wartime. Most fascist paramilitaries wear political uniforms, and many have taken their names from the colours of their uniforms.

The first fascist paramilitary was the Blackshirts of Italian Fascism led by Benito Mussolini. While many of the Blackshirts were former members of the Arditi who had fought in World War I or the Fascio of the immediate post-war years, the most direct inspiration for the first fascist paramilitary was Giuseppe Garibaldi's Redshirts.

A number of other fascist movements established paramilitaries modelled after the Italian original, most notably Nazism with its Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel. Others include:

in Ireland, in the 1930s, the Blueshirts under Eoin O'Duffy

the gold shirts and the Red Shirts of 1930s Mexico

the Greenshirts of Brazilian Integralism

the Heimwehr in Austria, in the 1920s and 1930s

the Legionary Greenshirts of the Romanian Iron Guard

Iron Wolf (organization)

National Union (Portugal)Several fascist movements took their cue from the Sturmabteilung rather than the Blackshirts, such as the Greyshirts in South Africa and the Silver Legion of America. Following the Axis invasion of Albania, the occupation forces formed the Albanian Militia under the Blackshirts. Several fascist paramilitaries were active in Romania including the Lăncieri.

Some fascist movements have also established paramilitary youth organizations such as the Hitler Youth or the Mocidade Portuguesa.

A number of fascist paramilitaries have been deployed in conventional warfare. For example, in the later years of World War II the Italian Blackshirts developed into the Black Brigades. Likewise, the combat wing of the Schutzstaffel, the Waffen-SS, fought in many major battles of World War II. The Einsatzgruppen were death squads active in Eastern Europe which carried out the Holocaust and other political killings. In an act of desperation, the Nazis deployed remnants of the Hitler Youth and Sturmabteilung against the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin. At the eleventh hour of the war, the Nazis laid plans for a guerrilla resistance movement they called the Werwolf. However, these plans amounted to little more than a handful of sabotages and assassinations which were ineffective.

Neo-Nazis have used the white power skinhead scene as a recruitment base for neofascist paramilitaries like Combat 18. Soccer hooliganism throughout Europe is another source of recruits. Some groups in the white supremacist wing of the militia movement in the United States can be seen as neofascist paramilitaries.

Frank Eugene Hook

Frank Eugene Hook (May 26, 1893 – June 21, 1982) was a politician from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Hook was born in L'Anse, Michigan and graduated from L'Anse High School in 1912. He attended the College of Law of the University of Detroit and graduated from the law department of Valparaiso University in 1918. He served in the United States Army Infantry during World War I from July 1918 until February 1919.

After the war, he was employed in lumber woods and as an iron ore miner and also as a law clerk at Wakefield, Michigan, 1919-1924. He was a member of the board of supervisors of Gogebic County, 1921-1923. He was admitted to the bar in 1924 and commenced practice in Wakefield. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 1936. He served as city commissioner of Wakefield, 1921-1923 and as municipal judge of Wakefield in 1924 and 1925.

Hook moved to Ironwood in 1925 and continued the practice of law. He was president of WJMS Radio Station in Ironwood, 1930-1933 and was a delegate to Democratic National Conventions in 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948.

In 1934, Hook was the Democratic Party candidate from Michigan's 12th congressional district for the U.S. House of Representatives. Hook defeated incumbent Republican W. Frank James in the general election to be elected to the 74th Congress and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1935 to January 3, 1943. In 1942, Hook lost in the general election to Republican John B. Bennett (having previously defeated him in 1938 and 1940). In 1944, Hook defeated Bennett to reclaim the seat in the 79th Congress, serving from January 3, 1945 to January 3, 1947. He lost the seat again to Bennett in 1946. In 1948, he made an unsuccessful bid to be elected the United States Senate, losing to Republican Homer Ferguson.

Hook served under Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He voted to declare war upon Japan, when Congress was convened upon the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hook was instrumental in the establishment of Social Security and the minimum wage — part of Roosevelt's New Deal. He also proposed a bill to establish the Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior and had the honor of dedicating it in August 1946.

In 1940, Hook alleged in Congress that Martin Dies had ties to William Dudley Pelley, the leader of a fascist organization, the Silver Legion of America. However, unbeknownst to him, the documents Hook used to make his case turned out to be forgeries.[1]

Hook's moniker "Fightin' Frank," earned from high school days, was reinforced once again during an infamous bout on the floor of Congress. His nemesis, John Rankin of Mississippi, drew his ire, but could not cull a punch, as Hook was later quoted, "A gentleman cannot strike an old man." The wrassling match was physically initiated by Rankin jumping on Hook's back on Washington's birthday in 1945, during the session. The skirmish was the end result of a verbal exchange between Hook & Rankin concerning the former's support and the latter's denouncement of the C.I.O. Rankin hollered shouts of "communism!" while Hook defended the integrity of the organization. As to the disruption, Hook later recited a 3-minute apology, while Rankin maintained his own innocence. When Hook offered to resign if Rankin would also "...for the good of the country," Rankin "held his tongue" and the controversial exchange faded into obscurity. [2]

Hook was a member of the President’s Fair Employment Practices Committee in 1943 and 1944 and was appointed a member of Motor Carrier Claims Commission October 1, 1949, serving until his resignation August 22, 1950. He made several unsuccessful attempts to reclaim a seat in the U.S. House from the 12th district, losing in 1954 to Bennett in the general election, losing in 1956 and 1958 to Joseph S. Mack in the Democratic primary elections. In 1966, he lost to incumbent Raymond F. Clevenger in the Democratic primary for the 11th district.

He resumed the practice of law in Detroit and in 1953 moved to Ironwood where he reestablished his law practice. He was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1962 and was a resident of Edina, Minnesota, at the time of his death. He is interred in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

German American Bund

The German American Bund, or German American Federation (German: Amerikadeutscher Bund; Amerikadeutscher Volksbund, AV), was a German-American pro-Nazi organization established in 1936 to succeed Friends of New Germany (FoNG), the new name being chosen to emphasize the group's American credentials after press criticism that the organization was unpatriotic. The Bund was to consist only of American citizens of German descent. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.

Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas are an organization dedicated to serving as the public affairs voice of the local Jewish communities of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.

Joseph Breen

Joseph Ignatius Breen (October 14, 1888 – December 5, 1965) was an American film censor with the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America who applied the Hays Code to film production.

Joseph Roos

Joseph Roos (December 10, 1908 – December 11, 1999) was an American journalist, publicist, and Hollywood story editor. He wrote hundreds of radio scripts and won a Peabody Award. He fought against discrimination and was well-known for his work as a community activist in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Roos was executive director of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee, and vice president of the American Jewish Congress. He is best known for his anti-Nazi spying activities in the 1930s and 1940s which resulted in the successful prosecution of American Nazis and the prevention of dozens of acts of sabotage and assassinations.

List of fascist movements

This article discusses regimes and movements that have described themselves as fascist, or are alleged to have been fascist or sympathetic to fascism.

It is often a matter of dispute whether a certain government is to be characterized as fascist (radical authoritarian nationalism), authoritarian, totalitarian, or a police state. The term "fascism" itself is controversial, and has been defined in various ways by different authors. Many of the regimes and movements discussed in this article can be considered fascist according to some definitions but not according to others. See definitions of fascism for more information on that subject.

List of fascist movements by country U–Z

A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.

Murphy Ranch

The Murphy Ranch is a ranch built in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles in the 1930s by Winona and Norman Stephens, who were sympathizers of the anti-semitic, white supremacist Silver Legion of America. The owner of record in 1933 was Jessie M. Murphy. Designed as a base for Nazi activities in the U.S., it was intended to be capable of being self-sustaining for long periods. The compound had a water storage tank, a fuel tank, a bomb shelter, and various outbuildings and bunkers. The estate's main gate was designed by Paul Williams, a well-known African-American architect in the Southern California area.

On Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, local police occupied the compound and detained members of the 50-strong caretaker force.As of 1990, it was abandoned and in a state of disrepair, and covered in graffiti. The site is currently owned by the city of Los Angeles. In early 2016, many of the ranch buildings were demolished, as they were deemed unsafe. A few buildings remain, including the power house, an all-concrete building that once contained the diesel generators. All entryways have been sealed.

Political uniform

A number of political movements have involved their members wearing uniforms, typically as a way of showing their identity in marches and demonstrations. The wearing of political uniforms has tended to be associated with radical political beliefs, typically at the far-right or far-left of politics, and can be used to imply a paramilitary type of organization.

Sturmabteilung

The Sturmabteilung (SA; German pronunciation: [ˈʃtʊɐ̯mʔapˌtaɪlʊŋ] (listen)), literally Storm Detachment, was the Nazi Party's original paramilitary. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Romanis, trade unionists, and, especially, Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

The SA were also called the "Brownshirts" (Braunhemden) from the color of their uniform shirts, similar to Benito Mussolini's blackshirts. The SA developed pseudo-military titles for its members, with ranks that were later adopted by several other Nazi Party groups, chief amongst them the Schutzstaffel (SS), which originated as a branch of the SA before being separated. Brown-colored shirts were chosen as the SA uniform because a large number of them were cheaply available after World War I, having originally been ordered during the war for colonial troops posted to Germany's former African colonies.The SA became disempowered after Adolf Hitler ordered the "blood purge" of 1934. This event became known as the Night of the Long Knives (die Nacht der langen Messer). The SA continued to exist, but was effectively superseded by the SS, although it was not formally dissolved until after Nazi Germany's final capitulation to the Allies in 1945.

White nationalism

White nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism which espouses the belief that white people are a race and seeks to develop and maintain a white national identity. Its proponents identify with and are attached to the concept of a white nation. White nationalists say they seek to ensure the survival of the white race, and the cultures of historically white states. They hold that white people should maintain their majority in majority-white countries, maintain their political and economic dominance, and that their cultures should be foremost. Many white nationalists believe that miscegenation, multiculturalism, immigration of nonwhites and low birth rates among whites are threatening the white race, and some believe these things are being promoted as part of an attempted white genocide.Analysts describe white nationalism as overlapping with white supremacism and white separatism. White nationalism is sometimes described as a euphemism for, or subset of, white supremacism, and the two have been used interchangeably by journalists and analysts. White separatism is the pursuit of a "white-only state"; supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to nonwhites and should dominate them, taking ideas from social Darwinism and Nazism. White nationalists generally avoid the term "supremacy" because it has negative connotations.Critics argue that the term "white nationalism" is simply a "rebranding" and ideas such as white pride exist solely to provide a sanitized public face for white supremacy, and that most white nationalist groups promote racial violence.

William Dudley Pelley

William Dudley Pelley (March 12, 1890 – June 30, 1965) was an American writer, spiritualist and fascist political activist.

He came to prominence as a writer, winning two O. Henry Awards and penning screenplays for Hollywood films. His 1929 essay "Seven Minutes in Eternity" marked a turning point in Pelley's career, earning a major response in The American Magazine where it was published as a popular example of what would later be called a near-death experience. His experiences with mysticism and occultism drifted towards the political, and in 1933 Pelley founded the Silver Legion of America, a fascist, para-military league. He ran for president of the U.S. in 1936 as the candidate for the Christian Party.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition in 1942, and released in 1950. Upon his death, The New York Times assessed him as "an agitator without a significant following".

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