NEW YORK (AP) — John A. Stormer, a religious leader and right-wing activist whose self-published Cold War tract “None Dare Call It Treason” became a grassroots sensation in 1964 and a rallying point for the emerging conservative movement, has died at 90.
A native of Pennsylvania who moved to Missouri in his 20s, he was chair of the state’s Federation of Young Republicans when through his own Liberty Bell Press he released “None Dare Call It Treason.” He warned that the U.S. was losing to the Soviet Union and was menaced by a “communist-socialist conspiracy to enslave America.”
“Recognize that those who refuse to work politically to protect their freedom may someday face a choice between fighting with guns or becoming slaves,” he wrote.
Initially ignored by the mainstream press, “None Dare Call It Treason” was a word of mouth success believed to have sold at least 1 million copies in its first year alone, some of those sales generated by millionaires who purchased copies in bulk and distributed them. Along with Phyllis Schlafly’s “A Choice Not An Echo,” it was among a handful of best-sellers that coincided with conservative Republican Barry Goldwater’s campaign for the 1964 presidential election, for which Stormer served as a party convention delegate. Goldwater was easily defeated by the Democratic incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, but the success of Stormer’s and other books signaled a thriving political network that became increasingly powerful over the following decades.
“At rallies they were handed out like party favors,” Rick Perlstein wrote of the conservative books in his prize-winning history “Before the Storm,” published in 2001. “In some areas copies disappeared from bookstore shelves as fast as murder mysteries.”