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An Historical Exploration of Father Charles E. Coughlins Influence

Historical Perspective

1891 October 25 Charles Edward Coughlin born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
1914 August The First World War begins in Europe.
1916   Charles Coughlin is ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church
1919   Peace Conference of Versailles
1920   League of Nations formed as an effort to maintain global stability but without the participation of the United States.
1926   Fr. Coughlin moves to Royal Oak, Michigan to become pastor of St. Therese, the Shrine of the Little Flower. Later that year he begins broadcasting on Detroit radio station, WJR.
1929 October The stock market crashes, ending six years of prosperity.
1930 March Unemployment throughout the United States has more than doubled from the previous year.
    Fr. Coughlin begins broadcasting on the CBS network, and forms the Radio League of the Little Flower to defray the cost of the broadcasts, pamphlets, and the construction of his new building.
1931 February "Food riots" break out in a number of U.S. cities.
  March The majority of banks in Toledo, Ohio collapse, weakening the region's financial structure. Other areas experience this type of financial collapse as well.
    3,000 unemployed workers march to the Ford Motor Company to ask for work relief. Dearborn police and Ford security personnel clash with the marchers leaving four dead and dozens injured.
1932 January Congress authorizes the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and empowers it to lend $2 billion to banks, insurance companies, building and loan associations, and agricultural credit organizations. Critics called it "the millionaires' dole".
  June 15,000 - 25,000 World War I veterans set up encampments near the White House and Capitol in Washington D.C. to apply pressure for payment of the bonus promised them for service during the war.
  July Hoover authorizes a $100,000 transportation bill to ship the "bonus" marchers back to their homes, and sets a deadline for their departure of July 24. On July 28, federal troops under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur assist D.C. police in removing the "bonus army" from the city leaving two marchers dead.
    Hoover authorizes the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to lend financially troubled states funds from the national treasury. Though it demands that states specifically request the funds, the money is targeted for relief and public works projects.
  November Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president over Herbert Hoover. During the campaign, Coughlin openly supports Roosevelt, stating "the New Deal is Christ's Deal."
1933 February Detroit's Union Guardian Group of banks and holding companies collapses and triggers a major financial panic. Newly elected Democratic Governor William Comstock institutes a bank holiday to stem the tide.
  Feb- March Coughlin engages in a fierce war of words with Detroit's bankers, politicians, and newspapers (including the Free Press) over the financial crisis.
  March Before an audience of 100,000, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated president.
    Just a few days later he announces a nation-wide four-day banking holiday to being on Monday, March 6 to deal with the fallout from major financial crises in Chicago and Detroit.
  March 12 Roosevelt delivers the first of what will be referred to as "fireside chats."
  April Under the Emergency Banking Act, Roosevelt orders the nation off of the gold standard. Coughlin applauds the act and calls for the introduction of silver as an additional financial aid.
  May The Federal Emergency Relief Administration is created by Congress and headed by Harry Hopkins, a close Roosevelt associate.
    The National Industrial Recovery Act is introduced to maintain some form of price and wage controls to return stability to the economy.
    The Tennessee Valley Authority is created to control flooding, generate electricity, and resettle families from marginal land. Opponents of the TVA called it "communistic to its core."
  June Congress passes the Glass-Steagall Act, separating commercial banking from investment banking and setting up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee bank deposits.
1934 May One of the largest dust storms removes nearly 350 million tons of top soil off of the west and blows it east. Dust storms such as this will become regular occurrences throughout the Great Depression.
  December Coughlin forms a new organization, the National Union for Social Justice. His initial broadcast for the NUSJ rails against "predatory capitalism" and the dangers of communism equally.
1935   The German Nazi Party establishes and implements the Nuremburg Laws - strips Jews of all civil rights
  March Fr. Coughlin's home is bombed, no suspects or arrests in the case.
  July Roosevelt signs the Wagner National Labor Relations Act. The goal of the act is to strengthen Section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act, recognize and validate union authority, and supervise union elections.
  August The Social Security Act of 1935 is signed into law by Roosevelt. Financed by a payroll tax, the controversial act helps the Roosevelt administration avoid being undercut by outside pressure groups, such as Dr. Edward Townsend who also advocates forms of old-age pension plans.
1936   Coughlin, with others, helps to form the Union Party and backs its candidate North Dakota Congressman William Lemke for president.
  November Roosevelt is elected to his second term as president by defeating Kansas Governor Alfred Landon winning every state except Main and Vermont.
    Coughlin disbands the National Union for Social Justice and ceases broadcasting in response to the massive defeat. The Union Party's candidate William Lemke gains fewer than one million votes and does not win a single state.
1937 January New Years Day Coughlin returns to broadcasting. He attacks the New Deal as a communist conspiracy and denounces Roosevelt as delivering the United States to Stalin's rule by proxy.
    The United Automobile Workers go on strike at General Motors' plants in Flint, Michigan. The strike turns violent as company-police attempted to evict the "sit-down" strikers. Governor Frank Murphy sends in the state National Guard to serve as a buffer between strikers and the police.
  March Economic recovery slows as the administration institutes an economy effort in New Deal programs and implements the new Social Security withholding program. Unemployment increases and detractors call it the "Roosevelt Recession."
  April The Roosevelt administration asks Congress to authorize $3.75 billion in additional spending to stimulate the economy. Unemployment remains high and leading authorities predict that it will remain so for the foreseeable future.
1938 July - November Coughlin broadcasts and publishes his interpretations of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Social Justice. The Tsarist forgeries purporting to reveal the secret plans for Jewish world domination. A storm of protest follows, leading him to publish the pamphlet "Am I an Antisemite?"
  November 9-10 Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) - attack on the Jewish community in Germany that leaves dozens dead and thousands homeless - marks a surge of repression on that community.
    Coughlin forms a new organization - the Christian Front.
1939   Coughlin openly appeals to isolationism and applauds the efforts of the America First organization led by Charles Lindbergh and Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan.
  May Germany and Italy formalize their alliance and sign the "Pact of Steel"
1940 January The New York branch of the Christian Front raided by the FBI.
  September Tripartite Pact adds Japan to the Axis powers
  November Franklin Roosevelt elected to an unprecedented third term over Republican Wendell Willkie. Roosevelt believes the victory is public approval for his neutrality policies and pushes harder for his Lend-Lease Act to aid Britain.
    Coughlin repudiates both Roosevelt and Willkie, but offers no alternative to the traditional two-party system. He also bitterly attacks Roosevelt's "war-mongering" against a Germany that "posed no threat" to the United States.
1941 December 7 The Empire of Japan attacks the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii and leads the United States to declare war on both Japan and Germany.
1942   Postmaster General Frank Walker banned Social Justice from the mails.
    Attorney General Francis Biddle warned Archbishop Mooney that Coughlin might face formal charges of sedition.
1966   Coughlin retires as pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower.
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