<Photo: The Little Rock Nine in 1957. On Ike's orders, General Walker successfully commanded the Arkansas National Guard to control local rioting when these nine youths officially enrolled in a traditionally all-white high-school.>
Before reading the Grand Jury testimony of the two government psychiatrists who testified against the resigned General Edwin Walker during November and December 1962, we should review the appropriate historical background of events that occurred between September 1957 and November 1962. Here is a cereal box summary of Walker's military and civilian life during that period.
1. In the autumn of 1957, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower assigned General Edwin A. Walker the task of commanding the Arkansas National Guard in Little Rock, Arkansas. His task was to quell the physical violence of local parents after President Eisenhower insisted that nine Afro-American adolescents must be allowed to attend their all-white Little Rock Central High School that year.
2. At first General Walker obeyed his orders with military grace and steadiness of nerve. Here is part of his speech to the local parents that year: "We are all subject to all the laws, whether we approve of them personally or not...and we have an obligation in conscience to obey them. There can be no exceptions; if it were not otherwise we could not be a strong nation but a mere unruly mob." (General Edwin Walker, September 25, 1957, Little Rock)
3. Soon after he arrived, General Walker came under a continual propaganda effort by segregationists hoping he would abandon his commission. Such opponents to the US Brown Decision to integrate US Public Schools included the Reverend Billy James Hargis, oil baron H.L. Hunt, and candy baron Robert Welch.
4. Walker remained in command in Little Rock from September 1957 well into 1959, continually preventing racist violence.
5. In mid-1959, General Walker finally joined the John Birch Society founded by candy baron Robert Welch. Welch had sent Walker his secret "Black Book" which argued that US President Eisenhower was in reality a secret communist working with Moscow to undermine the American way of life. Walker decided to resign his commission.
6. Ashamed of reporting to a communist in the White House, General Walker submitted his resignation from the US Army citing conscience and a foreign "conspiracy." Whenever a US General resigns (instead of retiring) he loses his US Army pension. Walker resigned just short of his 30-year retirement.
7. President Eisenhower rejected Walker's resignation, and instead gave General Walker a commission to command 10,000 troops and their families in Augsburg, Germany, to defend the Berlin Wall. Walker accepted the commission.
8. The US Government evidently did not care that Walker, now 50, was not only unmarried, but was never known to have had a girlfriend in his life. They presumed Walker was wary and careful enough.
9. As he began his commission in Germany, Walker was scrutinized closely by reporters from the US Army newspaper, The Overseas Weekly. The reporters recognized that he had no wife and never pursued women in Germany. Asking around, they learned that Walker was never known to have a girlfriend. Walker regularly left the base during US Army officer gatherings. The reporters of the Overseas Weekly chose to secretly follow General Walker whenever he left the Army base, and to spy on his office generally.
10. General Walker noticed the spying, so he sued The Overseas Weekly in a German Civil Court and won the case. In revenge, The Overseas Weekly on April 17, 1961, published a headline and a four-page feature exposing General Edwin Walker as a member of the John Birch Society, which was openly teaching that every US President since FDR had been a hardcore communist -- including JFK.
11. This newspaper issue caused such a scandal throughout Europe that the Joint Chiefs *immediately* stripped Walker of his command that very day, and assigned him a lonely desk job. (This was not for his membership in the Birchers, or even for teaching it to his troops -- Walker was dismissed solely to stop this military scandal in Europe during the Cold War).
12. In late 1961, General Walker submitted his resignation to the US Army for the second time. President JFK wanted to avoid a US scandal, so he offered General Walker another command post in Hawaii. Walker rejected it and quit, forfeiting his US Army pension. Walker, however, told the press that JFK had fired him out of envy of Walker's great patriotism.
13. Walker immediately moved to Dallas, TX, which was the hometown of H.L. Hunt and Hunt's extended family. Citizen Walker moved into a two-story house in the same neighborhood in which Hunt's relatives lived.
14. Walker immediately began plans to run for the political office of Texas Governor in the upcoming election. H.L. Hunt financed Walker's political campaign. Walker received a free office at some Dallas oil company, and promptly began writing and copyrighting political speeches.
15. In December 1961, Walker gave his first political speech at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium to the NIC (National Indignation Convention). The auditorium was filled with ultra-conservatives and segregationists, and Walker received several standing ovations.
16. Throughout January, February, and March 1963, Walker gave sold-out speeches throughout the South, claiming to the crowds that JFK had fired Walker because of the so-called fact (proclaimed by the John Birch Society) that JFK (like Ike before him) was really a secret communist working with Moscow. The standing ovations just kept coming.
17. In April 1962, the US Senate convened the Subcommittee on Military Preparedness to hear General Walker re-establish himself -- and possibly reverse JFK's alleged "firing" of Walker. Walker performed badly on the witness stand, however. He could speak to believers, but he became flustered when cross-examined. He lost his temper often during the proceedings, and even punched a reporter in the eye. Mainly, Walker read speeches into the record, and he rambled and complained about the US Army's Overseas Weekly newspaper.
18. Walker told the Senate that the United Nations was really a communist front organization, and that the communists were winning the Cold War through the United nations. Few believed him. Walker hoped that some famous US Generals would appear to speak on his behalf -- none did.
19. Then, in May 1962, the Texas election for Governor came around, and Walker lost badly to John Connally. This could have been the end of his story, but events took a different turn.
20. In June 1962, an ex-Marine defector to the USSR moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, bringing with him a Russian bride and child. This was Lee Harvey Oswald (hereafter, LHO). General Walker, suspected Soviet spies, so he asked his friend, Dallas FBI agent James Hosty, to watch LHO closely and report. Hosty apparently agreed.
21. In September 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis began -- not in the public news, but in CIA reports to the White House. On September 8, the first consignment of USSR medium-range (SS-4) offensive missiles arrived in Cuba on the freighter Omsk. The SS-4 had a range of 1,300 miles from Cuba.
22. On September 11, the USSR publicly warned that a US attack on Cuba or USSR war ships traveling to Cuba would mean war -- and possibly nuclear war. On September 15, the SS-4 were ready to test in Cuba. Also, USSR high-altitude surface-to-air missiles designed to shoot down U2 spy planes over Cuba had become operational.
23. It was amid this tense atmosphere that General Walker decided to organize a racial riot at the all-white University of Mississippi at Oxford. A Black American, a young Air Force veteran, James Meredith, chose to enroll in that college near to his home. Although Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett blocked the registration of Meredith, JFK (like Ike before him) enforced the Federal Law (the Brown Decision of 1954) demanding the racial integration of all US schools.
24. Like Ike, JFK threatened to use Federal agents. In response, Walker used radio and TV to broadcast this message:
"Mississippi! It is time to move! We have talked, listened and been pushed around far too much by the anti-Christ Supreme Court! Rise...to a stand beside Governor Ross Barnett at Jackson, Mississippi! Now is the time to be heard! Thousands strong from every State in the Union! Rally to the cause of freedom! The Battle Cry of the Republic! Barnett yes! Castro no! Bring your flag, your tent and your skillet! It's now or never! The time is when the President of the United States commits or uses any troops, Federal or State, in Mississippi! The last time in such a situation I was on the wrong side. That was in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957-1958! This time -- out of uniform -- I am on the right side! I will be there!" ("Edwin A. Walker and the Right Wing in Dallas" by Chris Cravens, 1993, p. 120).
On September 30, thousands of young men from coast-to-coast answered General Walker's call, and the result was a 12-hour riot in which hundreds were wounded and two were killed.
25. Partly because of the outrage of starting a deadly racial riot, and partly because this was done as the White House was trying to focus on the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK the next day (October 1) ordered the arrest of the resigned General Walker and sent him to a US Army psychiatric hospital in Springfield, Missouri. RFK and his medical advisors had signed an order for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation for the resigned General Walker.
30. This was the beginning of a personal conflict between JFK and Walker -- beyond national politics. Walker's attorneys, plus the ACLU, plus rightist political groups coast-to-coast, protested this action by JFK and won. The Kennedy White House released the resigned General Walker after 3 days.
31. It wasn't over. Walker now had to wait for his Grand Jury trial, scheduled to begin in November, 1962. His attorneys (Robert Morris and Clyde Watts) won a motion to hold the trials in Mississippi (a State unusually friendly to Walker).
32. Walker's attorneys deftly switched the topic -- it wasn't about who started the Ole Miss racial riots -- it was now about whether JFK was wrong to send Walker to an insane asylum. For this reason, four psychiatrists took the witness stand -- two criticizing Walker, and two defending Walker from charges of mental disturbance.
32. It was over in late January 1963, when the Grand Jury acquitted Walker on grounds that he had been falsely accused of mental illness on merely political grounds.
There's much more to the story, of course, but we'll pause here because we have some rare information to share. There is a Grand Jury transcript of the testimony by psychiatrists who testified that Walker seemed to suffer from paranoia. This transcript is available from only one source -- his personal papers stored at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.
I discovered the transcript when studying with H.W. Brands at UT Austin, covering the Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits. I trust the reader is now ready to imbibe from them.
--Paul Trejo, M.A.
© Copyright 2022, by Paul Edward Trejo. All rights reserved.