Conspiracy Theories In American History

American Indian Movement

The American Indian Movement (AIM) was a radical political organization established in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1968 by Native Americans. From 1968 through the early 1970s, the AIM was involved in numerous protests against the U.S. government, which were met with some general public support but severe government repression. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), along […]


If cold war foreign policy manifested itself in mutual hostility between East and West, the nuclear arms race, and a commitment to methods of covert subversion, its prosecution at home was based on the premise of aggressive anticommunism. Although not a new phenomenon, the identification and systematic elimination of the U.S. Left reached its peak […]


Anti-Catholicism constituted one of the nation’s earliest and most virulent conspiratorial fears. It continues to linger in the very heart of U.S. popular culture, appearing in radio, television, music, and now on the Internet. Based in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on Rome’s supposed political power, antipathy toward Roman Catholicism has since the 1960s insisted […]


Anarchism is a philosophy of social change that emerged as an international movement in the mid-nineteenth century and saw its heyday in the early twentieth century. The anarchist movement as a whole advocated the eradication of the state and believed that individuals would capably provide their own order. The state, with its centralized mechanisms of […]

Anti-Rent War

Did the National Reform Association (NRA) and the Whig Party conspire against wealthy landowners in the 1840s to win votes from farmers along the Hudson River, or did the tenants use these groups to achieve their own goal of acquiring land? More likely, the relationship was mutually beneficial. The farmers had been protesting years before […]

Anti-Masonic Party

Following the American Revolution, some critics began to voice their suspicions of Freemasonry as a secret society, and these concerns eventually led to the formation of the Anti-Masonic Party in the late 1820s. Modern Freemasonry began in 1717 in England as a social organization built on the ancient traditions of the medieval masons’ guild. It […]


The United States was founded on conspiracy theories. Whiggish colonists started a revolution convinced that unscrupulous British ministers were deliberately undermining traditional English liberties. With independence secured, liberty was again threatened in 1787-1788, this time from within. An urban, largely commercial group, known as the Federalists, were conspiring to further their own pecuniary interests and […]

Area 51

Made famous by the movie Independence Day, Area 51 is a classified military base in Nevada near Groom Lake that is the home to the most advanced aircraft and weapons testing by the United States. It is an irony that this highly “secret” base is well-known enough that tourists know where it is— although the […]


Conspiracy theories are sometimes generated through an apocalyptic worldview. An apocalypse is an approaching significant transformation that will mark a new phase of human experience. Those anticipating the apocalypse can passively wait for the event or actively promote its arrival. They can dream of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius or fear the nightmare […]


The concept of antisemitism refers to two distinct kinds of prejudice and hostility against Jews. It denotes both an essentially premodern hatred against Judaism as a religion and a cultural community, and a more modern, racist and economic aversion to practically all of Jewish ethnicity or heritage. Both types of antisemitism regard Jews as a […]