Scripps-Howard columnist and leading advocate of airnpower; investor Sterling Morton, long a staunch conservative;nand advertising executive Chester Bowles, later one ofnthe more idealistic of President Kennedy’s New Frontiersmen.nLiberal columnist John T. Flynn, who had longnwritten a financial column for the New Republic, directednthe New York Chapter, a particularly activist unit holdingnrallies on city street corners. R. Douglas Stuart took a leavenof absence from Yale, first becoming national director, thennexecutive secretary.nSome minor backers were later to win fame. For example,na personal friend of Stuart’s, young John F. Kennedy,ncontributed a hundred dollars to the organization, writing,n”What you are doing is vital.” In his reply, Stuart askednKennedy to work full time for his organization.nThe participation of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh wasnparticularly controversial. Flying solo across the Atlantic inn1927, “Lucky Lindy” had become the foremost hero of annentire generation. Certainly he was the only public figurenwhose popular appeal might match the President’s. He drewnby far the greatest audiences at AFC rallies, which werenbroadcast coast-to-coast, though he was also the AFC leadernmost subject to vehement attack.nOne of the more extreme anti-interventionists, Lindberghnsaid that he wanted neither Germany nor Britain tonwin the war; rather he sought a negotiated peace. Henrefused to return a Nazi decoration unexpectedly bestowednupon him in 1938, would not condemn German atrocitiesnpublicly, and — writing for the Reader’s Digest in 1939 —ncalled for building “our White ramparts.” A “Western wallnof race and arms,” he said in the November issue, couldnhold back “either a Genghis Khan or the infiltration ofninferior blood,” and he spoke of the common role that couldnbe played by “an English fleet, a German air force, a Frenchnarmy, an American nation.” In late August 1941, Lindberghnwarned that Great Britain itself might turn against thenUnited States.nThen, on September II, Lindbergh spoke at an AFCnrally held at Des Moines. In his broadcast, carried by radionthroughout the nation, he condemned Hitler’s persecutionnof the Jews but labeled Jews, along with the British and thenRoosevelt administration, as among the three major elementsnleading the nation to war. “Their greatest danger,”nhe continued, “lies in their large ownership and influence innour motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our Government.”nImmediately, he — and the AFC—were callednpro-Nazi, anti-British, and anti-Semitic. Within a month hendenied such accusations, but his address dealt the AFC anblow from which it never recovered.nThe AFC did include adherents to the domestic NewnDeal as well as its foes. Its two leading drawing cards fromnthe U.S. Senate, Gerald P. Nye (Republican-North Dakota)nand Burton K. Wheeler (Democrat-Montana), had originallynbeen to the left of the New Deal on many issues. (Nyenand Wheeler were also among the most vehemenflynanti-British of the major AFC speakers.) The AFC researchndivision was staffed by liberals, socialists, and pacifists, and innexamining the AFC position papers one finds that almost allnthe authors were liberals, that is people more in tune withnthe domestic, as well as the foreign policy, views of SocialistnParty leader Norman Thomas than with the Libertyn18/CHRONICLESnnnLeague.nYet politically the AFC had an anti-New Deal cast.nWhile it was officially neutral on the matter of party politics,nit contained far more rank-and-file Republicans than Democrats.nMoreover, as noted by historian Cole, many speakersnat AFC rallies attacked both the President as a man and hisndomestic policies. Certainly the AFC executive committeen— composed of leaders of the Chicago business communityn— was representative of the brand of business conservatismnpredominant in the 1930’s, and major parts of Midwesternnbusiness bankrolled the organization. Though about 25,000npeople contributed $370,000 to the national headquarters,neight businessmen alone supplied over $100,000, amongnthem Chicago textile manufacturer William H. Regnery,nChicago investment banker Harold L. Stuart, and the boardnchairman of Vick Chemical, H. Smith Richardson. Obviouslynamong the anxieties of such individuals, there was thenfear that war would accelerate higher taxes and promoten”radical” trade unions in heavy industry. In the wake of annoverheated economy, depression would inevitably follownany wartime boom.nIf the AFC had an ideology, it was reflected in materialsndistributed by its speakers bureau. Here one found thenanti-interventionist position at its most absolutist, going farnbeyond the restrained pro-British views of General Woodnand nearly all committee leaders. In the eyes of the bureau,nthe war simply was “another chapter in the series of conflictsnbetween European states that have been going on in warnand peace for hundreds of years.” A new German empirenwas attempting to compete with well-established ones, andnwhen Britain learned that Germany would be expanding atnBritain’s expense, not that of the Soviet Union, it declarednwar on the Third Reich. Fortunately, the bureau went on, ifnonly the United States preserved its democracy, it couldninsulate itself from National Socialism.nEven if Britain were victorious, so claimed the speakersnbureau, it would be unable to restore the governmentsndestroyed by Germany. Moreover, any reestablished statesnwould be too small to defend themselves, and the unstablenpolitical order created by the Versailles peace would simplyncontinue. To the AFC, one thing remained clear: neithernthe survival of democracy nor the preservation of the globalnbalance of power was at stake in the current conflict.nEconomic arguments came from another AFC division,nits research bureau. A ravaged Europe, it claimed, wouldnneed so much food that Germany would simply be unablento exclude American goods. In fact, without U.S. rawnmaterials, the industries of occupied Europe would bencrippled.nStrategic arguments were given as well. In opposing anmass army, America Firsters claimed that a new AmericannExpeditionary Force would simply prolong the strugglenoverseas, help prevent needed negotiation between Englandnand Germany, and ensure Soviet domination of Europe.nFurthermore, as both Germany and Russia were totalitariannstates, the AFC claimed that there was no longer — if therenever had been — any moral issue at stake. Lindbergh went sonfar as to tell an AFC rally, “I would a hundred times rathernsee my country ally herself with England, or even withnGermany, with all her faults, than the cruelty, the godlessness,nand the barbarism that exists in Soviet Russia.”n