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Charles Lindbergh: A Maligned American Hero And The End Of America First Without Foreign Entanglements by John Wear

Lindbergh attracted huge crowds wherever he spoke. When Lindbergh spoke for the America First Committee in New York City on May 23, 1941, the rally required Madison Square Garden. Some 25,000 people filled the flag-festooned stadium, and almost as many stood on the streets… Lindbergh’s introduction set off a wave of applause that practically shook the Garden. Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) became world famous in May 1927 after he flew solo his single-engine plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. When he returned to New York two weeks later, 4 million people turned out to honor him in a massive ticker-tape parade. One newspaper wrote, “No conqueror in the history of the world ever received a welcome such as was accorded Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh yesterday.”[1] Lindbergh was a national hero, and became Time magazine’s first Man of the Year. By the end of 1941, however, Lindbergh had become one of the most reviled men in American history. One columnist wrote that Lindbergh had plummeted from “Public Hero No. 1” to “Public Enemy No. 1.” A 1942 poll showed that only 10% of Americans had a favorable view of Lindbergh, while 81% had an unfavorable view. Lindbergh’s sister-in-law, Constance, reflected on America’s new attitude toward Lindbergh, “Imagine, in just 15 years he has gone from Jesus to Judas!” This article examines why Lindbergh suffered such an unprecedented drop in popularity.

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