America First Party (1944)
The America First Party was an isolationist political party which was founded on January 10, 1943. Its leader, Gerald L. K. Smith, was the party's presidential candidate in the 1944 U.S. Presidential Election.
The results of the 1944 presidential election were less than encouraging for America First Party members; Smith received 1,780 votes, mostly from the states of Texas and Michigan. This America First Party was renamed the Christian Nationalist Crusade in 1947.
In 1948 the Christian Nationalist Party nominated Smith for President and Harry Romer for vice president; according to the website "ourcampaigns.com" this ticket received just 42 votes nationwide.
In 1952 a rump America First Party nominated Douglas MacArthur for President, and Harry F. Byrd for vice president, without their consent, while the Christian Nationalists nominated MacArthur and crusading anti-Communist California State Senator Jack B. Tenney. This election apparently marked the final time that candidates were fielded by the original Smith movement or its offspring.
The name "America First Party" was used by several later campaigns unconnected to the original party:
- Perennial candidate Lar Daly used it in the 1960 presidential campaign, where he received 1,767 write-in votes.
- Justice Ralph Forbes of London, Arkansas ran as the "America First Party" candidate in the 1996 presidential campaign with Pro-Life leader Andy Anderson as his running mate, winning 932 votes. He had tried unsuccessfully to file as the candidate of his own Freedom Party. Forbes had a reactionary hard-right past, having previously been a campaign manager for David Duke's Populist Party run for the Presidency and had also been an officer in the American Nazi Party.
- In 2002 a new America First Party organization was formed by a group of Pat Buchanan supporters who left the Reform Party. They fielded eleven candidates for various local and federal offices in 2002, two candidates in 2004, and one in 2006. For more information, see America First Party (2002).
- Jeansonne, Glen Gerald L.K. Smith: Minister of Hate New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988