Coughlin, Rev. Charles E.

1944 TLS of the controversial 1930s radio priest noted for anti-Communism & anti-Semitism

Price: $150.00

Description:
(1891-1979) Canadian-born controversial Roman Catholic priest at Royal Oak, Michigan's National Shrine of the Little Flower church. One of the 1st political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, some 30M listeners tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. Coughlin began to use his program to issue anti-Semitic commentary, and later supported some of the policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Ordained in Toronto in 1916, moved to Detroit in 1923. He began his weekly one hour radio broadcasts in 1926 in response to cross burnings by the Ku Klux Klan on the grounds of his church. Hemainly covered religious topics but began to communicate a more political message in January 1930, attacking communism, socialism, and American capitalists. Having gained a reputation as an outspoken anti-communist, in July 1930 he was given star billing as a witness before the House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. In 1931 CBS radio dropped free sponsorship after Coughlin refused to accept network demands that scripts be reviewed prior to broadcast, so he created his own national network, soon reaching millions of listeners. He strongly endorsed FDR in 1932 and was an early supporter of the New Deal. In Jan. 1934, he testified before Congress saying, "God is directing President Roosevelt." His support for FDR and the New Deal faded later in 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a nationalistic worker's rights organization which grew impatient with the President’s monetary policies. The NUSJ gained a strong following among nativists and opponents of the Federal Reserve, especially in the Midwest. He preached about the negative influence of "money changers" and "permitting a group of private citizens to create money" at the expense of the general welfare of the public. By 1934, he was perhaps the most prominent Roman Catholic speaker on political and financial issues, with a radio audience that reached tens of millions of people weekly. In 1934, when Father Coughlin began criticizing the New Deal, FDR sent Joseph P. Kennedy and Frank Murphy, both prominent Irish Catholics, to tone him down. Ignoring them, Coughlin began denouncing FDR as a tool of Wall Street. He supported Huey Long until his 1935 assassination, then helped create and support William Lemke's Union Party in 1936, which received 900,000 votes. His radio talks attacked Roosevelt, capitalists, and Jewish conspirators. Kennedy worked with Roosevelt, Bishop Francis Spellman and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) in an unsuccessful effort to get the Vatican to silence Coughlin in 1936. After the 1936 election, he increasingly expressed sympathy for Hitler & Mussolini as an antidote to Communism. He claimed Jewish bankers were behind the Russian Revolution, and Russian Bolshevism was a disproportionately Jewish phenomenon. He promoted his controversial beliefs in radio broadcasts and his weekly rotogravure magazine, Social Justice, from March 1936. In the last half of 1938, Social Justice reprinted in weekly installments the fraudulent, anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” On Nov. 20, 1938, 2 weeks after Kristallnacht, Coughlin said "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted." Some radio stations, including those in New York & Chicago, began refusing to air his speeches without pre-approved scripts; in New York, his programs were cancelled by WINS and WMCA. On Dec. 18, 1938 thousands of Coughlin's followers picketed the studios of WMCA to protest its refusal to carry Coughlin's broadcasts. He expressed an isolationist and conspiratorial viewpoint that resonated with many listeners. The Vatican, the Apostolic Legation in Washington, and the Archbishop of Cincinnati all wanted him silenced. Bishop Gallagher of Detroit had canonical authority to curb him, but he supported the "Radio Priest" so the Roman Catholic leadership let the issue rest. The Roosevelt Administration created new regulations and restrictions specifically to force Coughlin off the air, requiring regular radio broadcasters to seek operating permits. When Coughlin's permit was denied, he was temporarily silenced, then worked around the restriction by purchasing air-time and having his speeches played via transcription; having to buy weekly air-time on individual stations seriously reduced his reach and strained his resources. With the September 1939 outbreak of WW II, his opposition to the repeal of a neutrality-oriented arms-embargo law triggered more successful efforts to force him off the air. The Code Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters adopted new rules placing rigid limits on the sale of radio time to “spokesmen of controversial public issues.” Scripts had to be submitted in advance and stations were threatened with loss of licenses if they failed to comply. In the Sept. 23, 1940, issue of Social Justice, Coughlin announced he had been forced from the air. After Pearl Harbor, anti-interventionist movements sputtered out, and isolationists like Coughlin got the reputation of sympathy with the enemy. On April 14, 1942, Attorney General Biddle wrote Postmaster General Walker and suggested the possibility of revoking 2nd class mailing privilege of Social Justice, which would make it impossible for Coughlin to send papers to his readers. Biddle was also exploring indicting Coughlin for sedition. On May 1, Archbishop Mooney of Detroit ordered Coughlin to stop his political activities and confine himself to his duties as a parish priest, warning of defrocking if he refused. Coughlin complied and remained the pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower until retiring in 1966. TLS on his 10 ½ x 7 ¼ personal Royal Oak, Michigan letterhead, February 16 1944, after his silencing by Detroit’s Archbishop, thanking a man for his letter, his good wishes, and a compliment, sends his autograph.

Condition: Very good, 3 folds
Type:Letter






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