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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History

Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History

Chapter:
(p.285) 19 Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History
Source:
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Author(s):

Kathryn S. Olmstead

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0019

Although many Americans believe that conspiratorial thinking is reaching new heights in the twenty-first century, conspiracy theories have been commonplace throughout U.S. history. In the colonial and early republic eras, Americans feared that Catholics, Jews, Masons, Indians, and African Americans were plotting against them. In the nineteenth century they added international bankers, rich businessmen, and Mormons to the list of potential conspirators. In the twentieth century, conspiracy theories continued to evolve, and many Americans began to suspect the U.S. government itself of plotting against them. These theories gained more credibility after the revelation of real government conspiracies, notably CIA assassination plots, the Watergate scandal, and the Iran–-Contra affair.

Keywords:   paranoid style, conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory history, Watergate, Church committee, Iran–Contra

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