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Elizabeth Dilling

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Elizabeth Dilling Stokes (April 19, 1894 – May 26, 1966) was an American anti-communist and anti-war activist and writer in the 1930s and 1940s, who stood trial for Sedition in what is now called the Great Sedition Trial of 1944.[1] She was also arrested twice for disorderly conduct.[2]

The author of four political books, Dilling claimed that Marxism and "Jewry" were synonymous and admired both Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco.[2] She claimed many prominent figures were Communist sympathizers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Franz Boas and Sigmund Freud.[3] Dilling concluded that a growing elite sought to remake the United States as a communist state.[3] Dilling proclaimed herself "abler than the men who were running the country".[2] Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, a character in Sinclair Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here, was based upon her.[3]

Life and career

Dilling was born as Elizabeth Kirkpatrick in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was Dr. L. Kirkpatrick, a physician and surgeon of Virginian, Scots-Irish, Presbyterian ancestry; her mother, Elizabeth Harding, descended from a long line of Anglican bishops. While she was raised Episcopalian, she attended a Catholic girls' school.[4] She then attended the University of Chicago, where she studied music and languages, but did not graduate.

She was a concert harpist after having been a pupil of renowned harp virtuoso, Alberto Salvi. In 1918, she married Albert Dilling, an engineer and lawyer of Norwegian ancestry. The marriage produced a son, Kirkpatrick (1920–2003), a lawyer, and a daughter, Elizabeth Jane. The couple traveled globally, and in the early 1930s they visited the Soviet Union. They spent a long time there, and filmed what they saw of the atrocious conditions. Especially alarming to her was their Soviet guide's proclaiming, "Our world revolution will start with China and end with the United States!"

When Dilling returned home to Illinois, she went on tour showing her movies and describing the "workers' paradise" as anything but. She wrote The Red Network—A Who's Who of Radicalism for Patriots (1934), a self-declared exposé of communist front activity in the U.S., which was widely circulated (100,000 copies are claimed). As an example of her technique, in the entry for Albert Einstein, which links him to various communist organizations, Dilling notes: "married to Russian; his much press-agented relativity theory is supposedly beyond the intelligence of almost everyone except himself." She offers an apologia for the Nazi confiscation of Einstein's property in Germany, saying it was because he was a Communist. The entry for Eleanor Roosevelt reads "Socialist sympathizer and associate, pacifist". A Protestant minister, Harry Emerson Fosdick, was listed because his books were "highly recommended by socialists and other radicals" [5]

She then wrote The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background (1936), condemning the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and officials in his administration, claiming they had strong links to Communists. In The Octopus (1940), she attacked the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and linked Jews to communism. It was then that she shifted her emphasis to Jews as causing all the trouble in the world, based on her readings of the Talmud.

As debate raged about whether the U.S. should get involved in World War II, she became an activist in two organizations inspired by the antisemitic radio priest Father Charles Coughlin: Mothers' Peace Movement, which she co-founded with Lyrl Clark Van Hyning, and We the Mothers Mobilize for America, based in Chicago. She was also involved with the America First Committee, famously associated with Charles Lindbergh and other prominent opponents of the war.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Dilling was indicted, along with 28 others, which led to the Great Sedition Trial of 1944.[1] The case finally ended in a mistrial after the death of the presiding judge, Edward C. Eicher. The Chicago Tribune editorialized on the trial as "one of the blackest marks on the record of American jurisprudence".[1] The Smith Act under which the prosecution took place was later found to be unconstitutional in several rulings by the Supreme Court. In the 1950s, she was a frequent contributor to Conde McGinley's paper Common Sense, and her name often joined his in joint-letters to congressmen.

Her second husband, Jeremiah Stokes (1877–1954), was a lawyer and author. He published the antisemitic The Plot Against Christianity in 1964, which included over 200 pages of photocopies from the Soncino edition of the Talmud, with his wife's underlines added.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Mockery of Justice—The Great Sedition Trial of 1944
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Women of the Far Right", The Nation, July 1, 1996.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Days of Discontent", Journal of Social History, December 22, 2003.
  4. "The Mothers' Movement reveals obscure corner in America's recent past", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin), April 21, 1996.
  5. Preacher at the Riverside, The Washington Post, April 14, 1985

Books

  • Dilling, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (1964). The Plot Against Christianity. Omaha, NE: The Elizabeth Dilling Foundation. p. 497 pp. ISBN 0-93948-245-2. 
  • Dilling, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (1940). The Octopus. Omaha, NE: Privately Printed. p. 256 pp. ISBN 0-89562-094-4. 
  • Dilling, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (1935). The Red Network, A Who's Who And Handbook Of Radicalism For Patriots. Chicago, IL: Ayer Company Publishers. p. 338 pp. ISBN 0-40509-946-0. 
  • Dilling, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (1936). The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background. Chicago, IL: Privately Printed. p. 439 pp. ASIN B0006ANJE8. 
  • Jeansonne, Glen (1996). Women of the Far Right: The Mothers' Movement and World War II. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 284 pp. ISBN 0-22639-589-8. 

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