Americans for Democratic Action

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Group.png Americans for Democratic Action   Influencewatch Powerbase Spartacus WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
HeadquartersWashington D.C., United States
InterestsEncounter (magazine)
Membership• Joseph Alsop
• Stewart Alsop
• Chester Bowles
• Marquis Childs
• David Dubinsky
• Elmer Davis
• John Kenneth Galbraith
• Leon Henderson
• Hubert Humphrey
• James I. Loeb
• Reinhold Niebuhr
• Joseph P. Lash
• Joseph L. Rauh Jr.
• Walter Reuther
• Eleanor Roosevelt
• Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.
• Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
• John H. Sengstacke
• James Wechsler
• Walter White
• Wilson W. Wyatt
The "activist organization of Cold War liberalism."

The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) is a "liberal" American political organization advocating progressive policies. Founded during at the beginning of the Cold War to kick the "reds" of Henry Wallace's Progressive Citizens of America out of the Democratic Party[1][2]. Its political angle was to get ruling class acceptance of some of its liberal domestic policy in return for supporting an interventionist, military-industrial complex-friendly, foreign policy.

Shifting alliances within the Democratic Party meant that by the late 1960s, ADA was no longer a stronghold of Cold War liberals, some of whom formed the Coalition for a Democratic Majority as a rival.[3]


ADA was established in 1947 as an organization to support the advance of liberal causes, consisting of labor union leaders, liberal politicians, theologians, and others who were opposed to the pacifism or pro-Soviet attitudes adopted by most left-wing political organizations in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It supported an interventionist, internationalist foreign policy and a pro-union, liberal domestic policy. It was also strongly anti-communist.[4]

The ADA came into conflict with another left-wing group, the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA). ADA's main dispute with the PCA was that they that it allowed members of the American Communist Party to join.

Stewart Alsop, a member of the ADA and close collaborator of the CIA, was co-writer, with his brother Joseph Alsop, of the thrice-weekly "Matter of Fact" column for the New York Herald Tribune. In 1946 Joseph and Stewart Alsop urged militant anti-communism. They warned that "the liberal movement is now engaged in sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Liberals, they argued, "consistently avoided the great political reality of the present: the Soviet challenge to the West." Unless the country addressed this problem, "In the spasm of terror which will seize this country... it is the right - the very extreme right - which is most likely to gain victory."[5]

In the early 1960s, ADA's influence peaked when a number of its key members (e.g. James Loeb, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.) were picked to join the administration of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[6] While active in liberal causes ranging from civil rights to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society reforms, by the mid-1960s the ADA's influence was on the wane.[7] It was badly split over the Vietnam War: initially supporting Johnson's war policy, the ADA had come to oppose the war by early 1968.[7] It endorsed founder Hubert Humphrey's presidential candidacy]] that year, but with "barely concealed ambivalence".[7] After Richard Nixon's victory, the ADA was pushed to the political margins,[7]

It is still active as of 2024.


Known members

8 of the 21 of the members already have pages here:

Joseph AlsopInfluential journalist very close to the CIA
Stewart Alsop
Chester Bowles
John K. Galbraith
Hubert Humphrey
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Walter ReutherBilderberger labor leader, probably assassinated with a plane crash in 1970.
Eleanor Roosevelt
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  2. Sara Diamond, Roads To Dominion: Right-wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, Guildford Press, 1995, p.182.
  3. Sara Diamond, Roads To Dominion: Right-wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, Guildford Press, 1995, p.192.
  4. Brock, Americans for Democratic Action: Its Role in National Politics, 1962, p. 49.
  5. Quoted in
  7. a b c d Mark L. Kleinman, "Americans for Democratic Action", in The Oxford Companion to United States History, ed. Paul S. Boyer (Oxford/NY: Oxford UP, 2001), 34.