Charles Lindbergh was the most admired man in the world when he came to Oklahoma City following his historic 1927 Trans-Atlantic solo flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. Seventy thousand people flooded the State Fairgrounds to witness his procession. Love and adoration for him further skyrocketed following the 1932 murder of his baby boy.
As President Franklin Roosevelt’s power rose in the 1930s, the “Lone Eagle” was the only man who could rival his popularity. This strengthened his bold stand against Roosevelt’s ill-conceived, and deadly, use of U.S. Army Air Corps pilots to deliver air mail in the 1934 Air Mail Scandal. That stand birthed in FDR a bitter and enduring antagonism toward Lindbergh.
This animus exploded years later as Lindbergh again rose as Roosevelt’s foremost adversary. He opposed the American involvement against the Nazi German and Imperial Japanese military machines that he (correctly) suspected Roosevelt was already secretly engineering (Chapter 4). He did not believe that these nations threatened a constitutionally-behaving U.S.A. Roosevelt and other argued that they were a menace to America.
Roosevelt, his subordinates, and academic and media allies savaged Lindbergh as an anti-Semite, fellow traveler of the Nazis, and a Nazi himself. The government tapped his phone, read his mail, and did the same to vast numbers of people who agreed with him. As always he did, the Lone Eagle conducted himself as a gentleman and did not stoop to the insults of his attackers. He charted a steady and determined course predicated on the philosophy animating the climactic sequence of George Washington’s famed Farewell Address, that America should:
“have with (foreign nations) as little political connection as possible.… (not) “entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest…It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
Prior to U.S. entry into World War II, approximately 80 percent of its citizens agreed with Lindbergh, though not that the nation should be “isolationist,” as he was accused of advocating. Rather, they agreed with his actual philosophy that “an independent destiny for America,” where American “soldiers will not have to fight everybody in the world who prefers some other system of life to ours, but will fight anybody and everybody who attempts to interfere with our hemisphere.”
When Lindbergh came to Oklahoma City on August 29, 1941, however, immense pressure from the government in Washington was brought to bear not just against his views, but even his freedom to express them. The OKC City Council revoked his right to speak at the downtown Municipal Auditorium. Speech organizers received anonymous threats to shoot Lindbergh and to terminate the power at the baseball field where he wound up speaking. Vandalism and warnings were thrown against his fellow America First members and supporters in Oklahoma.
But the Lone Eagle told rally organizers, “I am still coming—even if I have to speak in a cow pasture.” His steadfastness heartened supporters. These included stalwart former Oklahoma County District Attorney Herbert Hyde, who had defied threats against his own life to send George “Machine Gun” Kelly to prison for life (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapter 5). Also, former governor William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, and trailblazing African-American entrepreneur and community leader Capp Jefferson (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapter 7). Even current governor Leon Phillips, who did not agree with some of Lindbergh’s positions, grew disgusted with the sinister opposition to him and his freedom of speech. Phillips told Lindbergh he could speak from the steps of the State Capitol if no one else would have him.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.