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      Taxation as tyranny: American Progress and the ultraconservative movement

      research-article
      Radical Americas
      UCL Press
      conservatism, Liberty Amendment, libertarianism, radical right, Willis E. Stone, American Progress
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            Abstract

            Willis E. Stone watched aghast as mid-century liberals expanded the size and power of the federal government. Stone, a former industrial engineer and unbending anti-statist, believed this liberal surge obfuscated and abetted an imminent red tide of communism. He founded the American Progress Foundation and its flagship periodical, American Progress, to spread a hardline libertarian message, hoping to spark conservative resistance against federal power. In the pages of American Progress, Stone and a coterie of other right-wingers published conspiratorial, anti-statist diatribes and promoted Stone’s proposal, the Liberty Amendment, to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Right-wing business owners joined the fray, sponsoring American Progress through advertisements, and over time Stone’s movement expanded to form a collaborative network with other far-right groups. This article illustrates how American Progress served as an activist and ideological nexus for the broader ultraconservative movement, which helped establish a hardline brand of libertarianism that reverberated throughout the modern American Right. Furthermore, by analysing the scope and influence of radical right-wing publications, this article provides a critical counterweight to the traditional left-wing focus of periodical studies.

            Main article text

            Willis E. Stone issued a warning to his American Progress readers, ‘Anyone who takes a good look at 1955 must recognise the fact that the cold war between Communism and Americanism is reaching a critical stage’. Stone’s words reflected the anxiety and uncertainty felt by mid-twentieth century ultraconservatives. Conservative activists struggled to build a movement during this era of liberal dominance, leading some right-wingers to believe that a vast conspiracy stood in their way. Liberalism, to Stone’s mind, pre-empted a red tide of communism. ‘Our real danger does not come from threats of foreign invasion’, Stone fulminated, ‘it comes from the communistic practices carried on by the bureaucratic empires that have been developed here at home’.1 Stone believed that liberal economic policies, particularly progressive taxation, represented a usurpation of American values and foreshadowed a communist takeover by the federal government.

            Stone founded the American Progress Foundation (APF) and its flagship periodical, American Progress, to fight against this imagined red dawn. He chaired multiple anti-tax groups and coordinated with other far-right organizations, like the John Birch Society (JBS) and Conservative Society of America (CSA), to create a national, conspiracy-driven activist network. Ultraconservatives like Stone viewed communist subversion as a credible existential threat, one abetted by an admixture of liberal degeneracy and milquetoast conservatism.2 The far-right collaborated with, yet often criticised, mainstream conservatism. Far-right leaders stressed principled ultraconservatism – for Stone and other radical libertarians, this meant unbending anti-statism – over pragmatism, arguing that the latter would hasten America’s slide toward communist tyranny.3 This conspiratorial philosophy flattened the political spectrum into a false binary of ‘pure’ conservatism versus liberal-communism and, from this vantage point, conservative pragmatists seemed revolutionary leftists. The rise of mid-century ultraconservatism blurred the edges of acceptable conservatism and established a gateway for right-wing activism.

            This article uses American Progress to illustrate how far-right periodicals energised the conservative movement. Stone described American Progress as his ‘all-American’ amplifier in the ‘struggle against alien philosophies’.4 American Progress epitomised and propagated Stone’s ultralibertarian views; indeed, it is impossible to separate Stone from American Progress, because he served as its publisher, editor and ideological wellspring. Stone fit the mould of a western ultraconservative. His radical libertarianism fell well outside of the political centre and his paranoid anti-communism was a hallmark of the Cold War far-right. He rejected the racism associated with southern politics and viewed states’ rights through the lens of economic and individual freedom.5 Most importantly, Stone abhorred federal power and modern liberalism. Other Cold War conservative activists and publications, notably National Review and Human Events, also attacked taxation, conflated liberalism with socialism and communism, and consociated anti-communism with a vigorous defence of free market capitalism.6 What set Stone apart and defined his ultraconservatism were his proposed remedies – the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, a prohibition on future federal income taxes and liquidation of all federally-owned economic ventures.

            By spreading Stone’s ultraconservative ideologies and bridging disparate far-right groups, American Progress served as a connective hub for a constellation of modern conservatives, including conspiracy theorists, libertarian thinkers, right-wing business owners, evangelicals, Old Guard isolationists and states’ rights advocates.7 Stone and American Progress faced an uphill battle. The mid-century political consensus stood against libertarian tax reform and the word ‘progress’ held traditional associations with liberal-left reform, evidenced by the fact that Louisiana’s left-wing governor Huey Long titled his own periodical The American Progress during the 1930s.8 Nevertheless, to Stone, the ‘progress’ implied by his periodical’s title meant retrenching federal authority and stripping away the liberal welfare state.9 The magazine had an inconsistent publishing schedule and a subscriber base of roughly ten to twenty thousand, yet Stone claimed American Progress reached over fifty thousand people via grassroots, hand-to-hand circulation and political advertising.10 Examining the purpose, editorial content, advertising and distribution of American Progress reveals that Stone’s periodical functioned as a far-right nexus, germinating ideas and connecting thousands of interlocking nodes to create a coherent ultraconservative network.11

            Despite the critical role of printed media, few histories consider the impact of far-right publications upon the modern conservative movement.12 My work addresses this void by using Stone’s American Progress to highlight how niche, far-right periodicals influenced intellectual traditions and grassroots movements within and outside of the conservative mainstream.13 I utilise assorted archival collections – the Willis E. Stone Papers at the University of Oregon Special Collections, the Radical Right Collection at the Hoover Institution and the Kent Courtney Papers at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, Louisiana) – to trace the interconnectivity and expansion of far-right periodicals. By emphasizing radical conservative publications, I shift the field of periodical studies away from its left-wing moorings.14 American Progress helped spark an ultraconservative uprising, led primarily by conservative businessmen, against supposed liberal-federal tyranny.15 Ultimately, this article contributes to the growing field of conservative and periodical studies by illustrating how Stone and American Progress aided the coalescence of an ultraconservative sensibility that continues to reverberate within American politics.

            The rise of mid-century ultraconservatism

            The ideological origins of modern conservatism, particularly its libertarian tilt, can be traced back to the pro-business economic policies and anti-communist anxieties of the 1920s and 1930s. After a decade in which Republican presidents promoted high tariffs, low taxes and economic deregulation, President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the subsequent strengthening of the federal government, alarmed conservatives.16 Libertarian thinker Albert Jay Nock wrote in his periodical Freeman that increased federal power came with a loss of personal and economic freedom.17 Old Guard conservatives like Senator Robert A. Taft (R-OH) and President Herbert Hoover warned about the dangers of excessive taxation and the loss of economic opportunities, while far-right groups like the American Liberty League accused New Deal liberals of communist subversion.18 During the 1930s, the conservative business movement, led by groups like Leonard Read’s Foundation for Economic Freedom and the National Association of Manufacturers, positioned free-market economics as the conservative bulwark protecting capitalism from overbearing regulations and creeping communism.19 This early admixture of anti-communism and anti-statism influenced mid-century ultraconservatives, particularly movement organisers like Stone.

            After World War II, the cauldron of Cold War politics and emergence of consensus liberalism fostered an environment primed for right-wing activism, particularly in the ‘Sunbelt’ regions below the 36th Parallel. Sunbelt conservatives ensconced themselves in affluent suburbs, many of which were racially segregated, and embraced a fusion of anti-communism, free market conservatism, libertarian anti-statism and evangelical fundamentalism.20 Led by politicians like Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), Sunbelt conservatives wielded anti-communism as a political bludgeon because they believed that, according to historian Lisa McGirr, ‘the liberal approaches to communism unwittingly aided [the communist] cause at home and abroad’.21

            Defending free market economics became a Cold War imperative for many conservatives, cementing their ideological conception of capitalist conservatism versus communism.22 A new generation of right-wing Cold Warriors emerged – including libertarian economists Friedrich Hayek and James McGill Buchanon, National Review’s William F. Buckley Jr., and writer-philosopher Ayn Rand – who lamented the decline of free markets and the tyranny of liberalism.23 Periodicals like National Review, Human Events and Freeman, all contemporaries of Stone’s American Progress, combined anti-communist anxieties with libertarian fears of federal encroachment.24 ‘The purpose of repealing the income tax law is to reduce the power of the Government’, opined Corinne Griffith, the former silent film starlet turned anti-tax activist, in the pages of Human Events, ‘We are afraid of that centralization of power which has in other countries preceded the introduction of socialism, communism, and fascism’.25 The confluence of anti-communism, social traditionalism and free market economics formed the foundation of mid-century conservatism, but ultraconservatives were keen to push the conservative movement further rightward.26 American Progress transmitted Willis Stone’s radical ideas throughout the right-wing network, establishing Stone as a crucial member of modern conservatism’s far-right vanguard.

            Crusading against tyranny

            Willis Stone’s personal history and business experience incubated his radical libertarian bent. After a brief military stint during World War I, Stone worked as a salesman, traveling speaker and industrial engineer.27 He was a natural marketer. Stone developed new advertising techniques – for example, he created ‘Color Control’ to dramatize Brolite’s automobile paint program – and won awards for his salesmanship.28 His background in industrial sales put him in contact with manufacturing tycoons and he held positions in conservative, business-oriented organizations, including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.29 However, Stone struggled to make ends meet and when he ‘reflected on his economic insecurity, he concluded that government was the problem, not the solution’.30 Instead, Stone found success as a movement organiser.31 Stone’s business connections burnished his faith in an unfettered market, which became the bedrock of his anti-statist critiques and conspiratorial anti-communism.32 Stone drew from the libertarian tradition of thinkers like Albert Jay Nock and Ayn Rand; he accused the federal government, particularly Franklin Roosevelt and New Deal liberalism, of ‘invading the sacred realm of private enterprise’.33

            Despite early criticisms of Roosevelt’s New Deal, the 1944 Montgomery Ward labour strike provided the impetus for Stone’s libertarian crusade. During World War II, Roosevelt and the National War Labor Board (NWLB) empowered unions to maintain labour peace during wartime.34 Sewell Avery, the Chairman of Montgomery Ward, accused Roosevelt’s administration of usurping authority from business owners and refused labour board commands to sign closed-shop contracts. In response, Roosevelt ordered the military to seize Montgomery Ward properties.35 As federal troops carried Avery out of his Chicago office he reportedly shouted, ‘To hell with the government!’.36 Afterward, Avery released a statement condemning Roosevelt’s action as ‘a violation of the Constitution’.37 Stone viewed Avery as a libertarian martyr and the episode intensified Stone’s conviction that modern liberalism was simply jack-booted communism in disguise.38

            Incensed by wartime economic mandates, Stone drafted a constitutional amendment to limit federal economic incursions. His one-line amendment, published in the pages of the Sherman Oaks Citizen-Tribune, read, ‘The government of the United States of America shall not engage in any business, commercial, or industrial enterprise in competition with its citizens’.39 Stone spent the next two decades modifying and popularizing his amendment to fight against the supposed liberal-communist destruction of free market capitalism. The final version sought to retrench all government economic activity and repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, which aligned Stone with other contemporary ultraconservatives, like Frank Chodorov, a right-wing thinker and contributor to the periodical Freeman.40 Stone saw his amendment as a panacea that would ‘retrieve the ground lost to socialism’ and halt the ‘growth of this cancer’.41 He branded it the ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’.42

            Stone established the Los Angeles-based APF and American Progress in 1955 to promote his ultraconservative values, particularly the proposed amendment. According to Stone, American Progress had ‘the unique distinction of being specifically devoted to the support of the Constitution, of the inalienable rights of the individual, and of the sovereignty of the States which compose our Union’.43 Stone penned editorials for every issue along with writers from a variety of backgrounds and occupations; however, white men, particularly business owners, represented the lion’s share of contributions. Published on simple matte newsprint, American Progress contained editorials, book reviews, economic studies, condensed speeches from right-wing politicians and reprinted articles from other like-minded ultraconservative publications, all of which demonised taxation and liberal programs as anti-capitalist or, worse, a pathway to communism.

            Guest editorials in American Progress reflected Stone’s anti-statist philosophies. Many writers focused on issues anathema to ultraconservatives, particularly New Deal programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Social Security. Right-wing Congressman Ralph Gwinn (R-NY) wrote an editorial in the first issue of American Progress, deriding the TVA, the federally-run electric company that originated as a New Deal development project, as a ‘vote-getting game’ intended ‘to redistribute the wealth’.44 In fact, of the twenty-nine issues of American Progress, one-third featured articles disparaging the TVA, many with conspiratorial titles like ‘Seeds of Corruption’ and ‘Galloping Socialism’.45 Social Security, too, received withering criticism. Physician James L. Doenges, President of the conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, warned that Social Security would lead to ‘Federal Regimentation of the Medical Profession’ and ‘make everyone a ward of the government [and] destroy personal responsibility and incentive’.46 The anti-communist fear mongering and appeals to rugged individualism sought to discredit New Deal liberalism, but, in reality, Roosevelt’s programs ‘reflected capitalist thinking and deferred to business sensibilities’.47 Nevertheless, author John K. Crippen summarised the capitalism-under-siege mentality of American Progress: ‘A highly-organized socialist conspiracy . . . has infected every artery of our country’.48

            Such conspiratorial thinking permeated the editorials in American Progress, particularly regarding Stone’s war against taxation. Dozens of American Progress articles alleged that liberal tax policies – meaning everything from corporate and income taxes to tax penalties and tax-exempt institutions – paved the way for socialist tyranny.49 A reprinted article by Thomas J. Anderson, publisher of Farm & Ranch Magazine, urged readers to ‘Kill the Federal Income Tax’ because ‘its aim is to punish; to discourage money-making and venture capital; to level down’. ‘The road we’re traveling is the road to totalitarianism’, Anderson cautioned.50 Column titles queried readers, ‘Is Our Money Being Used to Enslave Us?’, ‘Has the Income Tax Perverted Our Moral Sense?’ and ‘Government: Servant or Master?’51 Explicit anti-taxation screeds accounted for roughly one-fifth of all American Progress editorials, not counting articles that tangentially discussed taxes. Many writers asserted that, through taxation, communist tyranny had already snaked into American society. As businessman Vollie Tripp wrote, ‘From the hour the 16th Amendment became law, government became the master, the people potential serfs’.52 Taken as a whole, the content of American Progress reflected Stone’s anti-statist rancor and conspiratorial proclivities, laying a foundation for his crusade to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and retrench federal economic involvement.

            By spreading a hardline libertarian message, American Progress served as the activist nerve centre for Stone’s ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’. In a letter to Augereau Gray (A. G.) Heinsohn – APF Tennessee State Chairman, Birch member and owner of Spindale Textile Mills – Stone defined the magazine’s primary objective as ‘being the major line of communication to the people in the various States who are actively campaigning to get action on the ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’ through their State Legislatures’.53 American Progress promoted state-level activism and provided in depth coverage each time a state passed a resolution in favour of Stone’s proposed amendment. For example, Ernest E. Anthony Jr., APF’s Texas State Chairman, wrote an ebullient editorial after Texas passed an affirmative resolution in 1959. Anthony lauded the efforts of State Representative Jerry Sadler (D-TX) and grassroots activists, like rancher J. Evetts Haley and his far-right group Texans For America, for their role in spearheading the movement.54 Anthony regaled readers with stories of ‘telegrams, phone calls, letters, [and] cards’ from across the state flooding the Texas capital.55 Reverend Gordon Winrod – an anti-Semitic extremist and son of radical preacher Gerald B. Winrod – also received praise from Anthony and Stone, highlighting the threads connecting evangelical fundamentalism and political ultraconservatism.56 As Stone’s movement gained momentum, more amendment propaganda appeared in American Progress, recounting the patriotic efforts of activists in early-adopter states like Wyoming and Florida.57 Taken as a whole, the content of American Progress represented a distillation of Stone’s ultraconservative libertarianism while simultaneously animating and touting grassroots successes.

            American Progress also reflected the racial homogeneity of conservative print culture: Stone’s periodical featured no columns by ethnic minorities, but it did provide a platform for right-wing women.58 Following in the early twentieth-century clubwomen tradition, conservative women like Betty Farrington, leader of the National Federation of Republican Women, served as political party organisers, while others, like Vivien Kellems, the radical leader of the anti-tax Liberty Belles, joined the ranks of grassroots coordinators.59 American Progress benefitted from this activist awakening, because affluent women, including Kellems, flocked to Stone’s anti-tax crusade. Right-wing author Lucille Cardin Crain wrote the very first editorial in American Progress, a denunciation of liberalism titled ‘Atomic Energy: Socialism or Free Enterprise?’.60 Other high-profile women contributed articles, including Mary D. Cain, editor of the conservative Sun (Summitt, Mississippi). Cain gained infamy in the early 1950s by refusing to pay Social Security taxes and, after internal revenue agents padlocked her office door, hacksawing through the lock to criticise the government’s ‘dictatorial methods’.61 ‘Hacksaw Mary’, a nickname given by adoring fans, wrote four columns for American Progress, each a blistering anti-statist critique. In total, six of the eighty-seven authors in the print run of American Progress were women or roughly seven percent of the magazine’s credited authorship. Thus, American Progress played a critical role in amplifying the voices of right-wing women, who, together with contemporaries like Phyllis Schlafly, widened the reach of conservative activism.62

            Broadening the ultralibertarian zeigeist

            Stone sought to build on the movement’s early successes and he leaned on his business acumen and marketing experience to increase funding for American Progress. Selling advertisements kept the periodical afloat and provided an opportunity for business owners to contribute to the cause while simultaneously venting their political frustrations and gaining new customers. This strategy worked, because, as Nicole Hemmer observed, ‘conservative publications were prime promotional markets, as their readers were self-selected consumers of conservative media’.63 Stone targeted the economic self-interest and libertarian leanings of right-wing business owners; he boasted that American Progress was ‘a highly effective media for advertisers seeking to preserve American ideals as well as promote their products and services’. Advertising in American Progress, Stone declared, proved that patron companies were ‘in favor of FREE ENTERPRISE’.64 Stone sold advertisements – ranging from $50 for partial-page to $500 for back cover ads – to appeal to a wide range of firms and his close relationship with business owners produced a cosy environment where commercial and editorial interests intertwined.65 Simply put, ads often doubled as right-wing propaganda.

            Owners of small and medium-sized businesses lined up to purchase space in American Progress, a periodical that reflected their values. One alarmist advertisement, paid for by businessman and Birch Society council member F. Gano Chance, castigated liberalism as a grand plot to destroy capitalism.66 ‘This is a process that must be stopped, for it can only destroy our free, competitive private enterprise system’, read Chance’s full-page advertisement, ‘And it must be stopped soon, for anyone who has watched the tidal wave of governmental control over private business knows – IT IS LATER THAN YOU THINK!’.67 Other ads professed support for Stone’s mission. A full-page advertisement written by Joseph S. Kimmel Sr., President of Republic Electric Company, blared, ‘The worst self-inflicted thing that ever happened to the American people was the adoption of the 16th Amendment’.68 Such propagandistic messaging laid bare any notion of ideological impartiality, but, to Stone, that was the whole point: advertisements kept American Progress afloat and amplified its right-wing philosophies.

            Broadcasting ideological values through advertisements was not unique to American Progress; in fact, this strategy highlighted the collision of socio-political activism and American consumer culture. Stone’s advertising ethos mirrored that of the Advertising Council, a conglomerate of ad agencies and corporations that promoted free market capitalism and fretted about Americans turning into ‘pawns of a master state’.69 Politically-charged ads appeared throughout right-wing publications, from the mainstream National Review to the Birch Society’s American Opinion.70 Industrial companies like Kennametal – owned by Phillip McKenna, an American Progress advertiser who served as an APF state chairman – and Timken Roller Bearing Company bought space in National Review for ads featuring conservative talking points about returning to the Gold Standard and reducing taxation.71 In fact, Stone provided space in American Progress, free of charge, for National Review ads.72 The overlapping funding sources and ideological overtones reveals that only a narrow, and at times transparent, line separated mainstream conservative outlets from radical right-wing publications.73

            Many small and medium-sized businesses supported Stone’s periodical, but large corporations avoided American Progress. Even after half a decade of growth, managing editor Robert J. Stein, who coordinated advertising, admitted, ‘We have few if any big-time operators’.74 One APF state chairwoman, Margaret Harkness, worried that Stone’s mission was too radical to entice big companies. ‘The companies are scared to death that if [the] Income Tax is repealed, corporation tax will be increased’, she fretted to Stone, ‘If we don’t get the A. T. & T. and other big companies behind us, I can’t see how we’ll ever pass the “Liberty Amendment” ’.75 Stone’s difficulty acquiring corporate funding reflected the trials of other conservative journals like Human Events. Henry Regnery, a co-founder of Human Events, pushed for more aggressive promotional advertising to expand the periodical’s reader base. This chafed against the journalistic scruples of fellow co-founders Felix Morley and Frank Hanighen; they hoped Human Events would be consumed and circulated by a small, influential group of right-wingers.76 The disagreement over the scope of advertising and distribution led Regnery to distance himself from Human Events and create his own publishing house. Stone adopted a middle course with American Progress, using advertisements to boost revenue while relying on grassroots distribution in lieu of mass subscriptions.

            The emphasis on advertising facilitated the periodical’s slow, fitful growth. By 1957, each issue raked in roughly two thousand dollars, keeping annual subscriptions at the low cost of three dollars and facilitating the introduction of bi-colour gloss covers by the end of the year.77 The gradual aesthetic improvements signified the maturation of both American Progress and Stone’s movement. In 1959, Stone sent only eight thousand copies of American Progress to a select few states: Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Wyoming, Oregon, California and Oregon. However, by the early 1960s, Stone and APF distributed over sixteen thousand copies of American Progress throughout twenty-eight states.78 Local social organizations, like the Kiwanis Club in Glendale, California, helped APF hand out copies of American Progress (the Glendale Kiwanis Club dissembled that it was not taking a political stance, but rather ‘an active interest in the principles upon which the conduct of government depends’).79 Stone claimed that subscribers circulated the magazine to friends and colleagues, estimating that over fifty thousand ‘business, labour, civic, professional, and industrial leaders’ read American Progress.80 Even if Stone exaggerated the numbers, American Progress nevertheless served as a binding agent, intertwining the philosophies and activities of right-wing businesspeople, activists and organizations.

            American Progress became a lodestone for the ultraconservative movement, connecting APF to other radical groups, like Kent Courtney’s Conservative Society of America. The New Orleans-based CSA was one of the most prolific far-right bastions of the mid-twentieth century and Stone found a kindred spirit in Courtney.81 Both men saw tyranny in federal power and viewed liberals and moderates as probable communist sympathisers; Kent Courtney once wrote, ‘There is little, if any, difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties in the field of promotion of domestic Socialism’.82 Though both men wielded states’ rights rhetoric, they differed in their approach to civil rights. Courtney often used racist language to describe civil rights activists, in one instance describing a ‘buxom Negress’ with ‘her hair standing on end like a fuzzy wuzzy’.83 Stone and American Progress, on the other hand, turned discussions about civil rights into diatribes against taxation and federal overreach. For example, Stone argued that his proposed amendment would ‘prevent this new invasion of the states’ by a spendthrift Congress.84 Conspiratorial journalist John T. Flynn wrote the only American Progress article to mention ‘civil rights’ in the title, in which he argued a citizen should possess ‘the great civil right to spend his own money’.85 This divergence over civil rights underscored the kaleidoscopic nature of conservatism and the regional differences between southern and western ultraconservatives. Nevertheless, Courtney served as an APF state co-chair, purchased multiple shipments of American Progress for regional distribution and praised Stone’s amendment on his radio show and in his own periodical, Independent American.86 In return for Courtney’s dedication and to increase his outreach, Stone wrote editorials for Independent American and led panel discussions at CSA’s annual conferences.87 The alliance between Stone and Courtney connected two ultraconservative hubs, strengthening the burgeoning far-right network across the Sunbelt.

            Stone also formed a fruitful alliance with the John Birch Society and its leader, Robert H. W. Welch Jr. Welch, a fellow businessman who was a fanatical conspiracy theorist and believed that any increase in federal authority foreshadowed a communist revolution.88 Similar to Stone, Welch defined the ‘progressive income tax’ as part of a vast ‘Marxian program’.89 Though Stone did not promote the Birch Society in American Progress, he wrote for the Birch Society’s flagship periodical, American Opinion, and travelled as a paid speaker for the society’s American Opinion Speaker Bureau.90 Welch and Stone even attended far-right conferences together.91 Such was the trust between the two men that Welch sent Stone an advance copy of The Politician – Welch’s inflammatory manuscript in which he accused numerous government officials, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, of being communist agents.92 The collaborative efforts between ultraconservative leaders fostered grassroots activism and expanded the reach of right-wing philosophies, inserting Stone’s radical libertarianism, particularly the ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’, into the conservative political and intellectual tradition.93

            As Stone’s prospective amendment gained traction within the ultraconservative network, far-right politicians noticed the groundswell of support. According to one boastful American Progress report, ‘There appears to be a great surge of public interest in this proposal, and a growing demand that every candidate for either state or federal office declare his position on this issue’.94 American Progress reprinted favourable interviews and speeches to highlight this newfound political support and coordinate conservative messaging. In one such interview, Courtney quizzed Congressman James B. Utt (R-CA), ‘Are you familiar with Stone’s proposed constitutional amendment?’. ‘Yes, I am’, Utt enthused, ‘I am a hundred percent in support of it’.95 Congressman Bruce Alger (R-TX), an admirer of Ayn Rand and conservative Republican from Fort Worth, Texas, also supported repealing the Sixteenth Amendment and shared Stone’s conspiratorial outlook.96 In a speech, reprinted in American Progress, Alger sneered, ‘We have in effect a full-flowered communist plan, no matter how unintended – a progressively graduated confiscatory redistribution of private property which dampens the desire and ability to save and invest’.97 Other advocates included Congressmen Ralph Gwinn (R-NY) and Edgar Hiestand (R-CA), the latter of whom was also a Birch Society member. Both men introduced numerous anti-tax resolutions in Congress, one of which landed Stone an appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee in 1958.98 To Stone, the increased political support evinced the blossoming of a larger movement.

            Expansion, turmoil and the end of American Progress

            Stone attempted to widen the movement in 1957 by merging APF with another Los Angeles-based libertarian organization, the Organization to Repeal Federal Income Taxes (ORFIT). Stone supported the unification for two reasons: He wanted to create a well-organised anti-tax program in every state and strengthen the lines of communication between local activists.99 American Progress became the merger’s de facto periodical and Stone provided editorial space for ORFIT’s leadership.100 The organizations created a Joint Operating Committee (JOC) to manage the merger, but the union was fraught from the beginning. Funding and membership were meddlesome problems; ORFIT and APF brought in only a few dozen members every month and operated on shoestring budgets, rarely carrying over more than a few hundred dollars a month.101 The turmoil escalated when Stone accused the Joint Committee of neglecting fundraising and charged JOC Vice President and General Manager Paul K. Morganthaler with locking him out of the decision-making process.102 Stone believed the merger, particularly the lack of financial support for American Progress, was sabotaging the central mission of promoting the ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’. The arguments over money and authority turned personal and by 1958 Stone found himself ostracised as the merger imploded. In a private letter to F. Gano Chance, Stone claimed that he and the other APF board members had been ousted by a ‘willful few who grabbed control of the machinery’.103 Stone lost access to APF’s subscription lists, but he retained ownership of American Progress and created a new organization, the National Committee for Economic Freedom (NCEF), to continue his anti-taxation crusade.104 American Progress did not publicise the disunion. The only hint came in an editor’s note where Stone praised NCEF’s national grassroots structure while implicitly criticizing the JOC’s power grab: ‘There is no virtue in concentrating control of such efforts in a small group or a single area’.105

            The failed merger with ORFIT signalled a lengthy transitionary period for Stone and American Progress. Most APF State Chairmen followed Stone to NCEF, and Stone recruited other key ultraconservative figures to bolster NCEF’s reputation. Kent Courtney served as the national Vice Chairman and Louisiana State Chairman while Walter Knott, a businessman and longtime advertiser in American Progress, worked as Treasurer.106 American Progress was not immune from the organizational turbulence; Stone revamped the magazine by switching back to monthly publications in 1961, which prompted urgent calls for additional advertising dollars. NCEF increased prices to maximise revenue – a back page ad now cost a whopping $1200 – and promoted advertisements as tax deductions.107 ‘Since the cost of such an ad is a valid business expense, we might say that Uncle Sam is helping to pay for the ad by the percentage of the corporate income tax to which your firm is subject’, wrote Stein in a letter to a potential advertisers, ‘Can’t you just see the bureaucrats writhing at the thought of this’.108 Because advertisements counted as business expenses and thus were eligible for tax write-offs, advertising became an avenue for right-wing business owners to thumb their noses at federal taxation while still supporting American Progress. Writing to a potential advertiser, Stein made the latter point explicit, ‘Clear aside from the advertising value of the ad, consider its merits as a form of contribution to the Liberty Amendment’.109

            Throughout the organizational recalibration, American Progress remained the nexus for Stone’s proposed amendment. However, the passage of the actual Twenty-Third Amendment, which expanded electoral privileges in Washington D.C., forced Stone to rebrand his proposal. Stone’s ‘Proposed 23rd Amendment’ became the Liberty Amendment, and the content of American Progress mirrored this rhetorical shift. The cover of the 1961 Winter-Spring issue blared ‘Liberty Is The Issue’, and future editions encouraged readers to attend meetings, like the Leadership Conference for the Liberty Amendment.110 At the conference Congressman Utt led a panel titled ‘Economic Freedom and the Liberty Amendment’ and NCEF state chairs held discussions on topics like ‘stimulating study groups’ and ‘setting up letter writing clubs’.111 ‘The living room of your own home will provide the best atmosphere for lively and uninhibited discussion’, read an American Progress guide, ‘These people, once they are informed and inspired, can be the instrument of extending your voice on the Liberty Amendment, in ever widening circles’.112 Even as the amendment’s slogan and Stone’s outreach matured, American Progress remained the central medium for encouraging grassroots action.

            American Progress survived the organizational fluctuations, but concerns about ideological branding bubbled to the surface in 1962. Internal discontent with the liberal association of the word ‘progress’ spurred Stone to change the periodical’s title from American Progress to Freedom Magazine.113 Stone explained, ‘The long-established name American Progress has not been adequately descriptive of our efforts’.114 The rhetorical shift, Stone believed, aligned the periodical’s title with its objective: freedom through the neutering of federal power. ‘It has been determined that Freedom Magazine would be the most appropriate name for a publication that is devoted to the job of securing freedom for all’, Stone wrote in the final (January–February 1963) issue of American Progress.115 Though the words ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ had historic connections to eighteenth-century ethnic and leftist publications like Freedom’s Journal and The Liberator, the change to Freedom Magazine, alongside the appearance of contemporary periodicals like Faith and Freedom and the rebooted Freeman, highlighted how right-wingers harnessed liberty-based language to broadcast core conservative values.116 In the same spirit, NCEF leaders modified the organization’s name to better reflect its mission. ‘We have unified the name of this organization with the name of our project’, read a 1963 internal report, ‘The legal steps have been completed to adopt the new name: Liberty Amendment Committee of the USA’.117

            These rapid alterations overhauled the periodical’s aesthetics, yet Freedom Magazine reflected its radical libertarian forebear. The debut issue of Freedom Magazine, May 1963, featured ‘how-to’ guides on grassroots activism, publicity for the Liberty Amendment, warnings about ‘the power-hungry federal bureaucracy’ and articles depicting anti-communist conservatism as the protector of free markets and the American republic.118 Stone continued as the periodical’s publisher and retained the American Progress editorial staff. Companies that once purchased space in American Progress bought advertisements in Freedom Magazine and tailored their promotional materials to match Stone’s new slogans. For example, an advertisement for A. G. Heinsohn’s Spindale Textile Mills declared, ‘The proposed Liberty Amendment . . . will restore solvency, sanity, and freedom to America’.119 The editorial staff, content and scope of Freedom Magazine, much like its predecessor, was an extension of and promotional avenue for Stone’s libertarian ultraconservatism.

            The rebranding helped Stone’s movement expand during the early 1960s, but support for the amendment plateaued despite the blossoming of the modern conservative movement. LAC reached its zenith in the early 1960s, topping out around 17,200 members.120 Six states – Nevada, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina – had adopted the Liberty Amendment by 1963; resolutions had been introduced in twenty-two additional states, and Stone expected roughly a dozen more states to consider Liberty Amendment proposals.121 However, growing affluence, a lack of new tax policy threats, President John F. Kennedy’s tax cuts and a modern conservative pivot toward tax reductions and corporate subsidies reduced Stone’s radical solution to a political outlier.122 Just as Stone feared, support for a daunting amendment repeal dissipated with the growth of pragmatic conservatism.

            By the late 1960s, LAC membership plunged below ten thousand, which prompted an aggressive, but ill-fated, membership drive.123 The fight for the Liberty Amendment continued into the 1970s, but flagging membership and funding woes forced Stone to permanently merge the Liberty Amendment Committee with Welch’s Birch Society in 1971.124 A sombre Stone, at this point a septuagenarian, lamented his group’s weaknesses: ‘We have recognized our lack of organizational and managerial skills necessary to build public action to save American constitutional liberty’.125 Stone maintained control of Freedom Magazine, which limped on for a few more years before shuttering in 1974. By 1981, nine states had adopted the Liberty Amendment; however, it was never passed by Congress nor voted on by the states. The demise of the Liberty Amendment reflected the reality that ultraconservative platforms often met defeat at the ballot box. Nevertheless, American Progress and later Freedom Magazine, occupied a key role as a libertarian clearinghouse, integrating Stone’s radical libertarianism into the conservative intellectual and activist tradition. Stone’s organizations and periodicals helped foster an anti-liberal, anti-taxation movement that reverberated within the conservative movement for decades.

            The mainstreaming of radical libertarianism

            New groups emerged to battle for a balanced budget and income tax limitations after the demise of Stone’s LAC. One such group, the National Taxpayers’ Union, quoted Stone in its promotional materials.126 As conservatism ascended in U.S. politics, Stone’s radical ideas gained traction within the political mainstream. In 1995, National Review’s Stephen Moore crowed, ‘Abolishing the income tax is no longer a utopian fantasy’.127 Perhaps no group embodied Stone’s desire to erode federal power like the 2010 Tea Party movement. There are many connections between Stone’s LAC and the Tea Party: Both organizations claimed an affluent, educated, middle-aged or older, majority white membership; held anti-statist, libertarian beliefs; collaborated with the Birch Society; and utilised media strategies to promote their views.128 Stone and American Progress sponsored a 1958 ‘Tax Protest Tea Party’, in which activists sent postcards and literal bags of tea to Congress, illustrating that both movements gained inspiration from and claimed to be the true heirs of, the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution.129 Most importantly, like Stone and American Progress, the Tea Party served as a political watchdog, eager to pull American politics further rightward. After storming the 2010 midterm elections, Tea Party politicians filed a deluge of anti-taxation bills. One proposal, put forth by congressmen Steve King (R-IA) and Rob Woodall (R-GA), sought to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment with a single sentence.130 Another bill, filed by arch-libertarian congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), ‘introduced the Liberty Amendment, precisely as Willis Stone drafted it in 1956’.131 Paul even mirrored Freedom Magazine’s liberty-oriented language, establishing the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (FREE) and producing a series of libertarian newsletters called the Freedom Report.132

            The right-wing media sphere that emerged in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century nurtured the growth of anti-statist libertarianism, a tactical advantage not enjoyed by Stone and American Progress.133 However, Stone’s conspiratorial language, a staple of the Cold War far-right, continues to pulse within conservative media. Conservative television and radio empires – notably Fox News, Breitbart and Rush Limbaugh – form an echo chamber that stokes right-wing resentment.134 Websites like InfoWars, run by deluded pundit Alex Jones, proffer outrageous anti-statist theories, alleging that a perpetual communist or ‘deep state’ conspiracy threatens the United States.135 The election of Donald Trump, a man who built his political career on the baseless accusation that President Barack Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim, illustrates the growing influence of conspiratorial conservatism.136 Stone and American Progress represented an important cog in the conservative movement by fusing conspiratorial rhetoric, libertarian platforms, free market ideals and grassroots activism.

            The history of American Progress illustrates how media outlets, particularly periodicals, insert far-right ideals into the broader conservative constellation. Stone used American Progress to promote grassroots activism and push conservatism rightward, and his organizations and publications became critical hubs for right-wing businesspeople, women, politicians and local activists. By encouraging business owners to get involved in the movement, Stone increased the reach of ultraconservative messaging. Additionally, Stone’s economic and ideological appeals aligned with other far-right activists, like Courtney and Welch, which fostered a collaborative network in which right-wing publishers joined forces to amplify their ultraconservative philosophies. Ultimately, the anti-statist libertarianism touted by Stone and American Progress synthesised and advanced an ultraconservative, libertarian tradition, one that continues to ripple throughout the modern American Right.

            Author biographies

            John S. Huntington graduated with his PhD in history from the University of Houston in 2016. He currently works as a professor at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas. The author would like to thank Bruce Tabb, Aiden M. Bettine, Jennifer Burns, the Radical Americas editorial staff and the anonymous reviewers.

            Declarations and conflict of interests

            The author declares no conflicts of interest.

            Notes

            • 1 Willis E. Stone, ‘A Look at 1955’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955) in Folder – California Coalition for Freedom, Box 1, Willis E. Stone Papers, University of Oregon Special Collections (hereafter noted as Willis Stone Papers).

              2 Conspiracy theories are central to the radicalism of the far-right. For more, see: Robert Alan Goldberg, Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 22–3; George Hawley, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2016), 42–4; Richard Hofstadter, ‘The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt’, American Scholar 24, no. 1 (Winter 1954–1955): 10–3; Geoffrey Kabaservice, Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 26; D.J. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society: Conspiracy, Conservatism, and the Cold War (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014), 3–4; Richard Gid Powers, Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism (New York: Free Press, 1995), 33.

              3 Stone’s anti-statist critiques were shared by other far-right libertarians. Jennifer Burns wrote that Ayn Rand viewed government as the consummate ‘destroyer’ in Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3; Walter E., ‘Grinder defined libertarianism as “a political philosophy of anti-statism”’ in Albert Jay Nock’s Our Enemy, the State (San Francisco: Fox and Wilkes, 1992), xii; For more on the anti-statist nature of libertarianism, see: Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (New York: Viking, 2017), xv; George H., ‘Nash observed that anti-statist fears undergirded the libertarian ideals of thinkers Frank Chodorov and Albert Jay Nock’, in The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1976), 13.

              4 Info Sheet – ‘The “American Progress” Magazine’, October 15, 1954 in Folder – California Coalition for Freedom, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              5 Dan T., ‘Carter noted that southern politicians like Alabama Governor George Wallace fused race-baiting rhetoric with the language of private property’, in The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, The Origins of New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 10–1; George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (London: Hodder Education, 2006), 12–3; Clive Webb, Rabble Rousers: The American Far Right in the Civil Rights Era (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005), 4.

              6 Hemmer traces the creation of multiple mid-century conservative publications in Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), 28–8; Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2009), 58–60.

              7 Historian Nick Fischer detailed, ‘a similar confluence of conservatives during the interwar years’, in Spider Web: The Birth of American Anticommunism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016), xvii.

              8 B.H. McCormack, ‘Looking Leftward’, Wall Street Journal, July 27, 1935; Alan Brinkley, ‘Huey Long, the Share Our Wealth Movement, and the Limits of Depression Dissidence’, Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 22, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 117–34.

              9 Doug Rossinow, Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 1–11; W. Elliot Brownlee noted, ‘After World War II a strong bipartisan consensus emerged behind . . . a progressive distribution of tax burden through the income tax’, in Federal Taxation in America: A History, Third Edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 149.

              10 Jana Smith Elford considered periodicals a ‘serial genre that facilitates connections among readers’ in ‘Recovering Women’s History with Network Analysis: A Case Study of the Fabian News’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 6, no. 2 (2015): 200; Subscription Order Blank, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 17.

              11 Elford described readers as network ‘nodes’ in ‘Recovering Women’s History with Network Analysis’, 200–2; Faye Hammill, Paul Hjartson, and Hannah McGregor urged other scholars that periodicals should be read ‘not as transparent containers of information but as complex media artifacts’ in ‘Introduction: Magazines and/as Media: Periodical Studies and the Question of Disciplinarity’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 6, no. 2 (2015): xii.

              12 For recent examples from the field of conservative media studies, see: Stephen Del Visco, ‘Yellow Peril, Red Scare: Race and Communism in National Review’, Ethnic and Racial Studies (December 2017): 1–9; Hemmer, Messengers of the Right; Heather Hendershot, What’s Fair on the Air?: Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Mark Major, ‘Objective but Not Impartial: Human Events, Barry Goldwater, and the Development of the “Liberal Media” in the Conservative Counter-Sphere’, New Political Science 34, no. 4 (2012): 455–68; Bruce J. Schulman and Julian E. Zelizer, eds., Media Nation: The Political History of News in Modern America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

              13 Manushag N. Powell noted, ‘Even niche publications can matter to and alter cultural history when they are intellectually ambitious’ in ‘Afterword: We Other Periodicalists, or, Why Periodical Studies?’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 30, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 443; Fischer, Spider Web, xviii.

              14 Patrick Collier argued that niche periodicals can provide new vantage points for examining ‘longer-standing, more established fields of inquiry’ in ‘What Is Modern Periodical Studies?’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 6, no. 2 (2015): 101; For examples of studies on left-wing periodicals, see: Kathy E. Ferguson, ‘Assemblages of Anarchists: Political Aesthetics in Mother Earth’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 4, no. 2 (2013): 171–94; Matthew N. Hannah, ‘Desire Made Manifest: The Queer Modernism of Wallace Thurman’s Fire!!’, Journal of Modern Literature 38, no. 3 (Spring 2015): 162–80; Victoria Kingham, ‘The Pagan, Joseph Kling, and American Salon Socialism’, JMPS 1, no. 1 (2010): 1–37; Elford, ‘Recovering Women’s History with Network Analysis’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies 6 (2015): 191–213.

              15 Numerous historians have traced the influence of business owners within the conservative movement. For recent examples, see: Kevin Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (New York: Basic Books, 2015); Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009); Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands; Kathryn Olmsted, Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism (New York: The New Press, 2015).

              16 Ellis W. Hawley, ‘Herbert Hoover, the Commerce Secretariat, and the Vision of an “Associative State”, 1921–1928’, The Journal of American History 61, no. 1 (June 1974): 117, 118, 127; Joan Hoff Wilson, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1975), 70; Brownlee, Federal Taxation in America, 107–9; Heather Cox Richardson, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 188; Olmsted, Right Out of California, 8.

              17 Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, 35; Charles H. Hamilton, ‘Freeman, 1920–1924’ in The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, eds. Ronald Lora and William Henry Longton (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999), 310–3; Nock, Our Enemy, The State.

              18 Robert Mason, The Republican Party from Hoover to Reagan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 58; Clarence E. Wunderlin, Robert A. Taft: Ideas, Tradition, and Party in U.S. Foreign Policy (Lanham: SR Books, 2005), 25–6; George Wolfskill, The Revolt of the Conservatives: A History of the American Liberty League, 1934–1940 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962), viii.

              19 Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands, xii, 15, 27.

              20 For more on the Sunbelt’s influence upon modern conservatism, see: Darren Dochuk, From Bible Belt to Sun Belt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011); Matthew Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006); Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Michelle Nickerson and Darren Dochuk, eds., Sunbelt Rising: The Politics of Place, Space, and Region (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Sean P. Cunningham, American Politics in the Postwar Sunbelt: Conservative Growth in a Battleground Region (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 27, 31–34, 40.

              21 The historiography on American anti-communism is immense. For select examples, see: Powers, Not Without Honor; Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998); McGirr, Suburban Warriors, 172; Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 205.

              22 Here I am repurposing Mary L. Dudziak’s argument that dealing with civil rights became imperative to winning the Cold War, in ‘Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative’, Stanford Law Review 41, no. 1 (November 1988): 61–120.

              23 Angus Burgin, The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets Since the Great Depression (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012); Burns, Goddess of the Market, 2–4; MacLean, Democracy in Chains, xviii–xxvi; Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, xii–xiv, 41–4.

              24 For overviews of National Review, Human Events, and Freeman, see: Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, 321–30, 449–60, 515–30.

              25 Corinne Griffith, ‘Why the Income Tax Must Go’, Human Events 14, no. 2 (12 January 1957); Griffith served as the honorary president for ORFIT, in Isaac William Martin, Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 138.

              26 George, H., ‘Nash’s seminal work argued that libertarianism, traditionalism, and anti-communism emerged as the centrifugal forces propelling the rise of mid-century conservatism, but he underappreciated the ideological and activist influence of the far-right’, in The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (Wilmington: ISI Books, 1976), xv–xvi; George Hawley examines modern radical libertarianism in Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2016), 145–78.

              27 ‘Honorable Discharge from the United States Army’, undated in Folder – Stone, Willis Emerson, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              28 Fact Sheet, ‘Who Is Willis E. Stone’, undated in Folder – Stone, Willis Emerson, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              29 ‘Who Is Willis E. Stone’.

              30 Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 141.

              31 Martin referred to Stone as a ‘movement entrepreneur’, ‘a leader who initiates a new campaign, organization or tactic’, in Rich People’s Movements, 14, 141.

              32 Elizabeth Tandy Shermer noted that ‘a well-defined mid-century cohort of local business elites and high-level industrialists’ sustained the growth of libertarian economics, in Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 2.

              33 Willis E. Stone, ‘Legislation vs. Economic Laws’, undated in Folder – Stone, Willis E. Speeches, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              34 Richard L. Strout, ‘Avery Given Three Days To Comply in WLB Dispute’, Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 1944; For more on government economic interventionism during World War II, see James T. Sparrow, Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

              35 Associated Press, ‘Labor News: Montgomery Ward Properties Seized By Army Under Roosevelt’s Order’, Wall Street Journal, December 29, 1944.

              36 David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 642.

              37 Associated Press, ‘Sewell Avery’s Statement’, New York Times, December 29, 1944.

              38 Willis Stone (uncredited), ‘Progress Report’, American Progress 4, no. 3 (Summer 1958): 67.

              39 Quoted from Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 142.

              40 Frank Chodorov, The Income Tax: Root of All Evil (New York: Devin-Adair Company, 1954), vii; Charles H. Hamilton, ‘Freeman, 1950–’, in Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, 323.

              41 Willis E. Stone, ‘The Cost of Socialism’, undated in Folder – Stone, Willis E. Speeches, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              42 Here is the full text of Stone’s Amendment:

              ‘Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to abolishing personal income, estate, and gift taxes and prohibiting the United States Government from engaging in business in competition with its citizens.

              Section 1. The Government of the United States shall not engage in any business, professional, commercial, financial or industrial enterprise except as specified in the Constitution.

              Section 2. The constitution or laws of any State, or the laws of the United States shall not be subject to the terms of any foreign or domestic agreement which would abrogate this amendment.

              Section 3. The activities of the United States Government which violate the intent and purposes of this amendment shall, within a period of three years from the date of the ratification of this amendment, be liquidated and the properties and facilities affected shall be sold.

              Section 4. Three years after the ratification of this amendment the sixteenth article of amendments to the Constitution of the United States shall stand repealed and thereafter Congress shall not levy taxes on personal incomes, estates, and/or gifts’.

              House Joint Resolution 355, June 10, 1957 in Folder – Amendment Revision, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              43 Willis E. Stone (uncredited), ‘Volume One, Number One’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 2.

              44 Ralph W. Gwinn, ‘TVA-Socialist Planning Drains Economy’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 6; Alan Brinkley, End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Knopf, 1995), 6.

              45 Willis E. Stone, ‘Seeds of Corruption’, American Progress 3, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 1956): 10; George Peck, ‘Galloping Socialism’, American Progress 4, no. 2 (Spring 1958): 42.

              46 James L. Doenges, ‘Federal Regimentation of the Medical Profession’, American Progress 2, no. 3 (Summer 1956): 5; James L. Doenges, ‘Social Security System . . . An Immoral, Fraudulent Scheme’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 4.

              47 William E. Leuchtenberg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932–1940 (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 165.

              48 John K. Crippen, ‘Censorship–And How!’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 14.

              49 For more on tax-exempt institutions fighting the IRS, see: John A. Andrews III, Power to Destroy: The Political Uses of the IRS from Kennedy to Nixon (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002).

              50 Thomas J. Anderson, ‘Kill the Federal Income Tax’, American Progress 4, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 1957–1958): 7.

              51 Vollie Tripp, ‘Is Our Money Being Used to Enslave Us?’, American Progress 4, no. 2 (Summer 1958): 64; Vollie Tripp, ‘Has the Income Tax Perverted Our Moral Sense?’, American Progress 7, no. 1 (March–April 1962): 11; Willis E. Stone (Uncredited), ‘Government – Servant or Master?’, American Progress 1, no. 6 (June 1955): 47.

              52 Economist Friedrich Hayek precipitated, and perhaps directly influenced, Tripp’s ‘liberalism begets feudalism’ argument with his seminal work, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1944). Vollie Tripp, ‘What’s Become of Uncle Sam?’, American Progress 4, no. 4 (Fall 1958): 93.

              53 Letter from Willis E. Stone to A. G. Heinsohn, December 5, 1958 in Folder – Heinsohn, A. G., Box 6, Willis Stone Papers.

              54 Ernest E. Anthony Jr., ‘The Texas Story’, American Progress 5, no. 2 (Spring–Summer 1959): 28; For more on TFA and J. Evetts Haley, see: John S. Huntington, ‘“The Voice of Many Hatreds:” J. Evetts Haley and Texas Ultraconservatism’, Western Historical Quarterly 49, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 16–9.

              55 Anthony, The Texas Story.

              56 Newsletter, Gordon Winrod, ‘N.S.R.P. Chaplain Named’, March 19, 1962 in Folder 2.2, Box 002, Radical Right Collection, Hoover Institution; Darren Dochuk, From Bible Belt to Sun Belt, xix–xxiv, 37; Leo Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983), xi; Daniel K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 33–4; Letter from Willis E. Stone to Kent Courtney, May 8, 1959 in Folder – Courtney, Kent, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers.

              57 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Garland Embry Jr., June 9, 1959 in Folder – American Progress Magazine Spring 1959, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers; Dan Hanson, ‘The Wyoming Story’, American Progress 5, no. 2 (Spring–Summer 1959): 27.

              58 Most notable right-wing publishers and editors, such as William Rusher and Henry Regnery, were white. Though Hemmer does not explicitly discuss the racial make-up of conservative media, her book, Messengers of the Right, follows media activists like Rusher, Regnery, and Buckley.

              59 Catherine E. Rymph, Republican Women: Feminism and Conservatism From Suffrage Through the Rise of the New Right (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 103–4; Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 110–30.

              60 Lucille Cardin Crain, ‘Atomic Energy: Socialism or Free Enterprise?’, American Progress 1, no. 1 (January 1955): 2.

              61 Associated Press, ‘Woman Editor Loses Battle Against Social Security Tax’, The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), July 7, 1953.

              62 Donald T. Critchlow, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 7–8.

              63 Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, 60.

              64 Info Sheet – ‘The “American Progress” Magazine’. Form Letter from Dwight Claar, undated in Folder – California Coalition for Freedom, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              65 Amy Erdman Farrell argues that analysing a periodical’s ‘financial underpinnings’ can reveal underlying tensions between commercial and journalistic interests in ‘From a Tarantula on a Banana boat to a Canary in a Mine: Ms. Magazine as a Cautionary Tale in a Neoliberal Age’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 30, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 394, 401; Sean Latham and Robert Scholes wrote that advertisements broadcast a periodical’s ‘cultural information’ in ‘The Rise of Periodical Studies’, PMLA 121, no. 2 (March 2006): 520; Info Sheet – ‘The “American Progress” Magazine’.

              66 The ‘Fall–Winter Advertisers List’ revealed F. Gano Chance paid for the advertisement in Folder – American Progress Magazine Fall–Winter 57–58 Adv. Schedule, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers; Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, Danger on the Right: The Attitudes, Personnel, and Influence of the Radical Right and Extreme Conservatives (New York: Random House, 1964), 168.

              67 Advertisement, American Progress 4, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 1957–1958): 22.

              68 Memo to Taxpayers from Joseph S. Kimmel Sr., American Progress 4, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 1957–1958): 30.

              69 Kruse, One Nation Under God, 131.

              70 Forster and Epstein, Danger on the Right, 278.

              71 ‘Kennametal Advertisement’, National Review, 5 April, 1958: Inside Back Cover; ‘The Timken Roller Bearing Company Advertisement’, National Review, 17 May, 1958: Inside Back Cover.

              72 The list of paid advertisers does not include National Review in ‘Fall–Winter Advertisers List’. ‘National Review Advertisement’, American Progress 4, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 1957–1958): 12.

              73 Forster and Epstein, Danger on the Right, 170.

              74 Letter from R. J. Stein to George E. Thompson, June 1, 1961 in Folder – American Progress Mag – July Corrections 1961, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              75 Letter from Miss Margaret Harkness to Willis E. Stone, June 14, 1961 in Folder – American Progress Magazine 1962, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              76 Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, 34–6.

              77 ‘Fall–Winter Advertisers List’; ‘Subscription Order Blank’.

              78 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Bill Yeager, undated in Folder – American Progress Winter Edition 1960–1961, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              79 ‘The Proposed 23rd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States’, undated in Folder – American Progress Magazine Fall Edition 1958, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              80 ‘Subscription Order Blank’.

              81 Jonathan Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 109–10.

              82 Kent Courtney, ‘There Is No Difference’, CSA Newsletter, October 11, 1962 in Folder 40, Box 6, Kent Courtney Collection, Cammie G. Henry Research Center, Northwestern State University (hereafter noted as Kent Courtney Collection).

              83 Kent Courtney, ‘On the Campaign Trail: Wallace Defines Treason’, Wallace for President News in the CSA Handbook, May 16, 1967 in Folder 33, Box 5, Kent Courtney Collection.

              84 Willis E. Stone, ‘Spenders Grab for More Power’, American Progress 1, no. 7 (July, August, September, 1955): 52.

              85 John T. Flynn, ‘What About This Civil Right?’, American Progress 3, no. 2 (Spring 1957): 23.

              86 Letter from Kent Courtney to Willis E. Stone, March 13, 1959; Letter from Phoebe Courtney to Willis E. Stone, undated both in Folder – Courtney, Kent, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers; Letter from Kent Courtney to Willis E. Stone, November 5, 1959 in Folder 166, Box 19, Kent Courtney Collection.

              87 Newsletter for Independent American, July 17, 1959 in Folder – Courtney, Kent, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers; Letter to All Subscribers of the Independent American in New York State, July 3, 1962 in Folder 42, Box 7, Kent Courtney Collection.

              88 Mulloy, World of the John Birch Society, 5–12.

              89 Robert W. Welch, ‘Republics and Democracies’, in The New Americanism and Other Speeches and Essays (Boston: Western Islands, 1966), 105.

              90 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Douglas C. Morse, January 8, 1962 in Folder – Morse, Douglas C. American Opinion Speakers Bureau, Box 9, Willis Stone Papers; Letter from Francis X. Gannon to Willis E. Stone, November 8, 1960 in Folder – Birch, John (Society), Box 3, Willis Stone Papers.

              91 Letter from Pierre F. Goodrich to Robert Welch, December 29, 1960; Letter from Robert Welch to Willis E. Stone, August 21, 1959; both in Folder – Welch, Robert, Box 13, Willis Stone Papers.

              92 Robert W. Welch, The Politician in Cable from Acting Chief, Security Division to SAC Boston, Massachusetts, February 11, 1959, FBI File 62-104401-8, p. 287. Mulloy, World of the John Birch Society, 18–9; Letter from Robert Welch to Willis E. Stone, October 27, 1959 in Folder – Welch, Robert, Box 13, Willis Stone Papers.

              93 Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, 71.

              94 Stone, ‘Progress Report’, American Progress (Summer 1958).

              95 Radio Edition of the Independent American, undated in Folder – American Progress Magazine Summer Edition 58 Adv. Copy Contracts, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              96 Sean P. Cunningham, Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2010), 41–51; Edward H. Miller, Nut Country: Right-Wing Dallas and the Birth of the Southern Strategy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 35–6.

              97 Bruce Alger, ‘Healing the Body Politic’, American Progress 5, no. 2 (Spring–Summer 1959): 24.

              98 H. R. 3177, January 22, 1959 in Folder – Hiestand, Edgar W., Box 6, Willis Stone Papers; House Joint Resolution 355, June 10, 1957 in Folder – Amendment Revision, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers; List of Witnesses Appearing Before the Committee on Ways and Means, February 7, 1958 in Folder – Ways and Means Comm. Hearings, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              99 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Finance Committee, July 5, 1958 in Folder – Joint Operating Committee APF and ORFIT, Correspondence & Memos, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              100 The merger was first acknowledged in American Progress 3, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 1957).

              101 Trial Balance of Joint Operating Committee – ORFIT & American Progress Foundation, April 30, 1958 in Folder – American Progress Foundation Treasurer’s Reports, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              102 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Max A. Koffman, undated in Folder – Joint Operating Committee APF and ORFIT, Correspondence & Memos, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              103 Letter from Willis E. Stone to F. Gano Chance, December 15, 1959 in Folder – Chance, F. Gano, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers.

              104 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Frank Flick, June 26, 1959 in Folder – Flick, Frank, Box 5, Willis Stone Papers; Letter from Willis E. Stone to F. Gano Chance, December 15, 1959 in Folder – Chance, F. Gano, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers.

              105 Willis E. Stone (uncredited), ‘Progress Report’, American Progress 5, no. 2 (Spring–Summer 1959): 24.

              106 Letter from Kent Courtney to Willis E. Stone, May 11, 1959 in Folder – Courtney, Kent, Box 3, Willis Stone Papers.

              107 American Progress Advertising Rates, Revised on April 24, 1961 in Folder – American Progress Mag – July Corrections 1961, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              108 Letter from Robert J. Stein to F. Leroy Hill, June 1, 1961 in Folder – American Progress Mag – July Corrections 1961, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              109 Letter from R. J. Stein to George E. Thompson, June 1, 1961 in Folder – American Progress Mag – July Corrections 1961, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              110 Annual Report of NCEF, 1961 Liberty Amendment Committee Progress Report, January–August, 1963 in Folder – Annual Reports 1963, Box 22, Willis Stone Papers; American Progress 6, no. 1 (Winter–Spring 1961): Front Cover.

              111 Advertisement for Leadership Conference for the Liberty Amendment, American Progress 6, no. 2 (September 1961): 12–3.

              112 Uncredited, ‘Multiply the Effect of Your Efforts!’, American Progress 6, no. 2 (September 1961): 20.

              113 Rossinow, Visions of Progress, 233.

              114 Uncredited, ‘American Progress Magazine to Become’, American Progress 8, no. 1 (January–February 1963): 3.

              115 Uncredited, ‘American Progress Magazine to Become’.

              116 Hamilton, ‘Freeman, 1950–’, 322.

              117 Liberty Amendment Committee Progress Report, January–August, 1963 in Folder – Annual Reports 1963, Box 22, Willis Stone Papers.

              118 Willis E. Stone, ‘From the Publisher’s Desk’ & Harry Browne, ‘A Plan of Action to Restore the American Republic’ both in Freedom Magazine 8, no. 2 (March–April 1963): 1, 5.

              119 Spindale Textile Mills Advertisement, Freedom Magazine 8, no. 2 (March–April 1963): 22.

              120 Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 132.

              121 ‘1963: Year of Opportunity’, Freedom Magazine 8, no. 2 (March–April 1963): Front Cover.

              122 Brownlee, Federal Taxation in America, 174–5; Laura Kalman, Right Star Rising: A New Politics, 1974–1980 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010), 227–32; Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 133, 151.

              123 Liberty Amendment Committee, ‘Prospectus: Organizational Plan of Local Liberty Amendment Committees’, October 9, 1967 in Folder 162, Box 19, Kent Courtney Collection.

              124 Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 153.

              125 Letter from Willis E. Stone to Robert Welch, August 27, 1971 in Folder – John Birch Society 1967–1971, Box 1, Willis Stone Papers.

              126 Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 166.

              127 Stephen Moore, ‘Ax the Tax’, National Review (17 April 1995): 38.

              128 Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 23, 31, 33, 122.

              129 Kent Courtney, ‘Tax Protest Tea Party’, American Progress 5, no. 1 (Winter 1958): 6.

              130 Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 195.

              131 Joshua Green, ‘Ron Paul: The Tea Party’s Brain’, The Atlantic (November 2010). Martin, Rich People’s Movements, 195.

              132 ‘The Foundation for Rational Economics and Education’, accessed January 15, 2018, https://the-free-foundation.org.

              133 Hemmer, Messengers of the Right, 260–73.

              134 Skocpol and Williamson, Tea Party, 123–5. Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella, Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), x.

              135 Jason Wilson, ‘Crisis Actors, Deep State, False Flag: The Rise of Conspiracy Theory Code Words’, The Guardian, February 21, 2018, accessed 18 March, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/21/crisis-actors-deep-state-false-flag-the-rise-of-conspiracy-theory-code-words.

              136 George Hawley, ‘How Donald Trump Can Change Conservatism’, New York Times, January 19, 2017, accessed February 7, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/opinion/how-donald-trump-can-change-conservatism.html.

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            RA
            Radical Americas
            Radic. Am.
            UCL Press
            2399-4606
            30 November 2018
            : 3
            : 1
            : 10
            Affiliations
            Houston Community College
            Author notes
            Article
            RA-3-10
            10.14324/111.444.ra.2018.v3.1.010
            d9ded55e-f362-45f6-86d9-96a7ecea51f5
            © 2018, John S. Huntington.

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited • DOI: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.ra.2018.v3.1.010.

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            : 30 June 2018
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            Huntington, J. S. ‘Taxation as tyranny: American Progress and the ultraconservative movement.’ Radical Americas, 3, 1 (2018): 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.ra.2018.v3.1.010.

            Sociology,Political science,Anglo-American studies,Americas,Cultural studies,History
            conservatism, American Progress ,radical right,Liberty Amendment,libertarianism,Willis E. Stone

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