||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (March 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Joseph Elsberry "Joe" McWilliams (1904 – 1996) was born to a poor pioneer family in the small town of Hitchcock, Oklahoma.
He was born in 1904.
In his earlier days McWilliams was well known for using an American-flag-draped covered Conestoga wagon for publicizing his rallies and speeches, as well as for drawing attention to his cause. Most of his early rallies were impromptu street presentations that at times ended violently, as one did on July 4, 1940 in New York City. A crowd which had supported McWilliams turned ugly when McWilliams began to disparage Jews, Communists and businessmen for the world's problems, and McWilliams was arrested. McWilliams used the arrest to further his cause through newspaper reports of his speech and the violence that resulted.
In 1940, he ran for Congress as a Republican in the 18th Congressional District of New York, which is around the Yorkville section of Manhattan. After losing by a large margin, he ran for Congress under the American Destiny Party ticket (a political organization he founded and based on the Nazi Party), but McWilliams was disqualified from the ballot after failing to gather enough signatures. In 1944, he and others were charged with sedition under the Smith Act. The Great Sedition Trial, as it became known, became a farce of a trial in which it would become clear that the charges against many of the defendants were more against their political beliefs and free speech than on their actions, and that the 48 on trial should not have been placed on trial as a group; even The Washington Post would eventually withdraw their reporter; a mistrial was declared on December 7, 1944, and charges of sedition would not be taken up against Joseph E. McWilliams again.
It was during and after these times that McWilliams, conscious of the hardships facing servicemen returning from war, and having three younger brothers who served honorably in the United States Armed Forces in World War II, two of them in the European theatre, worked on his Serviceman's Reconstruction Plan, one of the blueprints used, but not given credit to by others, for the G.I. Bill of Rights.
He died in 1996.
- Williams, Chester S. (January 1941). Ways of Dictatorship. Evanston, IL: Roy, Peterson and Company.
- "Leibowitz Wins in Primary Race; Both Labor Wings Claim Victory; McWilliams Swamped by Walker in Congress Contest in Yorkville--Fish Wins Up-State --O'Connor Fails in Comeback LEIBOWITZ VICTOR IN PRIMARY VOTING Fish Wins Easily". The New York Times. September 18, 1940.
- "M'WILLIAMS BARRED FROM CONGRESS RACE; 1,909 Names on Jailed Candidate's Petition Ruled Invalid". The New York Times. October 22, 1940.
- Hoke, Henry Reed (1946). It's a Secret. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock.