Silver Legion of America

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Silver Shirts)
Jump to: navigation, search
Silver Legion of America
Also known as "Silver Shirts"
Country United States
Leader(s) William Dudley Pelley
Foundation January 30, 1933 (1933-01-30)
Dissolved December 7, 1941 (1941-12-07)
Active region(s) All United States, mainly American South and California
Ideology American nationalism
White nationalism
White supremacy
Clerical fascism
Social conservatism
Political position Far-right
Major actions
Status Defunct
Size Ca. 15,000 (1934)

The Silver Legion of America, commonly known as the Silver Shirts, was an underground American fascist organization founded by William Dudley Pelley that was headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina[1] and announced publicly on January 30, 1933.


A white-supremacist, antisemitic group[2] modeled after Hitler's Brownshirts, the paramilitary Silver Legion wore a silver shirt with a blue tie, along with a campaign hat and blue corduroy trousers with leggings. The uniform shirts bore a scarlet letter L over the heart: an emblem meant to symbolize Loyalty to the United States, Liberation from materialism, and the Silver Legion itself. The blocky slab serif L-emblem was in a typeface similar to the present-day Rockwell Extra Bold. The organizational flag was a plain silver field with such a red L in the canton at the upper left.

By 1934, the Silver Shirts claimed about 15,000 members[citation needed]. Circa 1935, a Nazi agent befriended mining fortune heiress Jessie Murphy, convincing her to contribute cash, and the use of her ranch, recently purchased from screen cowboy Will Rogers, to the Fascist movement. The Silver Shirts began construction of the Murphy Ranch, situated on a secluded 55 acre site in the Los Angeles hills, meant to serve as a fortified world headquarters after the expected Fascist global conquest.[3]

Silver Shirt leader Pelley ran for President of the United States in the 1936 election on a third-party ticket. Pelley hoped to seize power in a "silver revolution" and set himself up as dictator of the United States; the presidency remained in the hands of incumbent Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. By around 1938, the Silver Legion's membership was down to about 5,000.[citation needed]

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, local police occupied the "world headquarters" bunker compound and detained members of the 50-man caretaker force.[3] The declaration of war on the United States by Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy led to the rapid decline of the Silver Legion.

In popular culture[edit]

Silver Shirts are mentioned in Philip Roth's 2004 novel "The Plot Against America."

  • The Silver Legion of America is a political party in the video game Hearts of Iron IV. The in-game USA can turn into the Silver Legion led "Free American Empire" if a fascist coup occurs.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "The Silver Shirts: Their History, Founder, and Axtivities". August 24, 1933
  2. ^ Van Ells, Mark D. (August 2007). "Americans for Hitler". Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Heil Hollywood: The Los Angeles bunker from which Hitler planned to run Nazi empire after the war". Daily Mail. London. 18 March 2012. 
  4. ^ It Can't Happen Here

Further reading

  • Allen, Joe "'It Can't Happen Here?': Confronting the Fascist Threat in the US in the Late 1930s," International Socialist Review, Part One: whole no. 85 (Sept.-Oct. 2012), pp. 26–35; Part Two: whole no. 87 (Jan.-Feb. 2013), pp. 19–28.
  • Ribuffo, Leo Paul The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.
  • Spivak, John L. Secret Armies: The New Technique of Nazi Warfare. New York: Modern Age Books, 1939.
  • Werly, John The Millenarian Right: William Dudley Pelley and the Silver Legion of America. PhD dissertation. Syracuse University, 1972.
  • Yeadon, Glen. The Nazi Hydra in America. Joshua Tree, CA: Progressive Press, 2008.

External links[edit]