- Charles was a famous aviator who made the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic from New York to France.
- He was criticized for accepting a medal given to him by the Third Reich, and he opposed the US entering WWII.
- He had a son who was tragically kidnapped and killed in the 1930s.
Charles Lindbergh is a well-known figure in American history from the 21st Century. While many know the pilot for his achievements in aviation, many may not know about his political views and controversial beliefs. MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow launched a new podcast Ultra on Monday, October 10, where she explores the “ultra-right” in American history. In her announcement, she spoke about Lindbergh and fellow aviator Laura Ingalls, and she’s sure to make further points about both pilots in future episodes. Find out everything you need to know about Lindbergh here.
1. Lindbergh is most famous for his flight from New York to Paris
While Maddow is expected to explore the nature of Lindbergh’s politics, the pilot is primarily known to people across the country for his May 1927 transatlantic flight from New York City to Paris. He was the first person to make a solo non-stop flight of that distance. He flew across on a tiny aircraft called The Spirit of St. Louis, and the trip made Lindbergh into a national celebrity, per The Houston Space Center. The trek lasted over 33 hours and spanned just over 3,600 miles.
2. He was awarded the Service Cross Of The German Eagle
Nearly a decade after his famous flight, Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow moved to Europe, living in France and England for about four years beginning in 1935, per the Charles Lindbergh House and Museum. During this time, he was invited to tour Nazi Germany, including seeing factories, military bases, and more. On one visit, then-German Air Minister Hermann Göring, who was a high-ranking member of the Nazi party, invited him to a dinner, where he was awarded the Service Cross of the German Eagle, alongside Henry Ford and IBM chairman Thomas Watson.
Lindbergh receiving the medal from the Nazi leader is sure to be a major point in Maddow’s podcast. She referenced the photo of the pilot receiving the medal in an October 3 episode of her The Rachel Maddow Show. “The aforementioned Time Magazine ‘Man of the Year,’ seen here in Germany, receiving a Nazi medal from Hermann Göring, one of the most powerful officials in the Nazi government. Göring ate cyanide at Nuremberg to avoid being hanged as a criminal war, but we’ll always have this photo of him pinning a swastika to Charles Lindbergh,” Maddow said, before announcing Ultra.
3. He was an early adopter of the phrase ‘America First’
While the phrase “America First” may commonly be associated with the Republican party and former President Donald Trump In the current day, the phrase has a longstanding history that dates back to 1940. The phrase actually began with the “America First Committee,” which was an organization that opposed US involvement in World War II. Lindbergh was brought into the organization shortly after it began and became a national speaker for it.
4. He opposed US involvement in WWII
Given his involvement in the America First Committee, it should come as no surprise that Lindbergh opposed the United States entering WWII. During the aforementioned tours of German factories and military bases, the pilot believed that the Nazi technology and military would easily win a war. He was also a vocal opponent to the United States joining the war effort, but many of his beliefs about why America should avoid conflict were based in White Supremacy, per Britannica. “A war within our own family of nations, a war which will reduce the strength and destroy the treasures of the White race,” he wrote in a 1939 piece for Reader’s Digest.
Even years after the war was won, Lindbergh expressed beliefs that the US had actually lost. “We won the war in a military sense; but in a broader sense respect it seems to me we lost it, for our Western civilization is lessed and secure than it was before,” he wrote in a journal entry, which was shared by The New York Times in 1970.
5. His son was kidnapped in 1932
While Lindbergh is primarily known for his flight and Maddow’s podcast is sure to explore his shocking political beliefs, his family life has also been a deeply covered topic. The pilot married Anne Morrow in 1929, and they had six children together. The couple was married until Lindbergh died in 1974 at age 72. Morrow died in 2001 at age 94. Five years after Lindbergh’s famed 1927 flight, his first son Charles Jr. was kidnapped in March 1932. The family received a ransom note from Richard Hauptmann. While the money was given to Hauptmann, the toddler’s body was found in May of that year. Hauptmann was convicted and executed, although he never confessed to the crime.