Friends of Democracy

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Friends of Democracy was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1937. It's national director was Unitarian Minister Leon M. Birkhead. Although its official headquarters remained in Kansas City until 1951, by 1940, it was operating from an 'Eastern Regional Office' at 103 Park Avenue, New York City.[1]

Friends of Democracy was one of a number of US anti-fascist organisations which were of interest to British intelligence during the early years of World War Two.

In a July 1941 report on the US activities of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Sydney Morrell cited Friends of Democracy as one of a number of American organisations which had been "formed and acquired". Morrell stated these organisations were closely interlocked, but "On the other hand, none of the above organisations is aware of British influence, since this is maintained through a permanent official in each organisation, who in turn, is in touch with a cut-out - and never with us direct."[2]

The Friends of Democracy entry on Morrell's list read::

Friends of Democracy. An example of the work of this organisation is attached. It is a complete attack on Henry Ford for his anti[sic]-Nazi leanings.[3]



  1. Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States 1939-44, Brassey's, 1999, p.33.
  2. 10 July 1941, FO 898/103, National Archives.
  3. 10 July 1941, FO 898/103, National Archives.