900+ Suicides In One Night
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19th November 1978, hidden under the bed, a 76-year-old lady named Hyacinth Trash saw, after seeing that even a stone-hearted person will feel the ground slipping under their feet. She saw that the people she knew, the people she loved, the community of 1000 people with whom she stayed, all of them lay on the ground, dead. Then she remembered the previous day. 18th November 1978 when suddenly a siren started ringing and it was announced on the megaphone “White Night; White Night; Everybody report to the pavilion.”
She chose not to go out and hide under her bed instead. She had already gotten a feeling about the catastrophic proceedings of that day. That day, more than 900 people just because of the orders of one man, committed suicide in this town of Guyana. Out of these 900, 1/3 were children which means almost 300 were below the age of 13. What had happened on that day that so many people took such a horrifying step that too on the orders of one person? Who was that person? What was the real reason behind this incident which represents the largest American civilian casualties after 9/11? On 18th November, the voice on the megaphone was Jim Jones. In 1978, there was a mass suicide in Jonestown but this had begun in 1931 when Jim Jones was born.
He did not have his parents around him to shower their love. His mother used to ignore him and his father used to take rounds in the hospital because he was sick. James Warren Jones was influenced by churches since childhood. He believed in Pentecostalism which is a protestant form of Christianity. After graduating from Butler University, in the 50s and 60s, he gained the label of the churchman. Curing any sickness by using psychic powers or telling someone’s future, he was becoming very famous for all these things.
In 1955, he established a Pentecostal church named ‘Wings of Deliverance’ that people were going to remember by the name “People’s Temple” going forward. He was known to promote socialism and his congregation was racially integrated which was considered to be a very progressive initiative at that time. From Indianapolis to Guyana:- During the 1960s, Jim Jones started getting visions of a nuclear war because of which the whole world will be destroyed. Esquire Magazine published an article at the same time which stated the 9 safe places in case of a nuclear catastrophe, one of them being California.
This is why Jim Jones decided to relocate “People’s Temple” there. By the 1970s, the headquarters were already established in San Francisco. After going there, Jim Jones started getting involved in charitable and political activities. Because of this, he was able to build a good connection with the politicians out there. He criticized traditional Christianity and started promoting Communism and just as his followers started increasing, he got the ego of his power.
In a few days, this started spreading that all the members of People’s Temple, Jones was diverting all their income to himself and looting and abusing them slowly this news started increasing a lot and his whole image was ruined in front of the media. After seeing all this, he decided that staying in California is not good for him and that is why he went to Guyana in 1974 which is a South American country. He decided on establishing an agricultural commune with all his followers in Guyana.
As I said before, Jim Jones used to promote socialism which is why he promised all his followers that this agricultural commune will not be less than a socialist paradise. People believed him and wanted to live a peaceful life. For Jim Jones, a ‘peaceful’ life meant staying away from the US government’s oppression and media scrutiny and staying in some hilly area where there can be no connection with the outside world. 500 members had already started working on making that jungle a settlement.
1000s of Jones’ followers were going to migrate and come to Guyana. Because of this, the Guyanese government was told that all these immigrants are very skilled and they can become an asset to Guyana. Not to mention, he lowkey also bribed the officials by showing them an envelope of $5 Million. In 1974, the Guyanese Government permitted bringing duty-free things to the temple and because of this, starting from arms and ammunition to drugs, everything was brought there. On paper, its name was ‘Peoples Temple Agricultural Commune’ but Jones’ followers had started calling this Jonestown.
Jin Jones’ wife Marceline described Jonestown as such:
” Dedicated to living for socialism, total economic and racial and social equality. We are here living communally”. But Marceline’s these words are not justifying the things being done at Jonestown at all. As Britannica likes to state, many humanitarian activities were being done in Jonestown but Jim Jones’ behavior regarding his followers, was becoming very brutal and inhuman. The reality of Socialist Paradise:- Here, Jonestown was changing into a well-established settlement and in San Francisco, the media’s investigation kept increasing. When Jones got to know about Marshall Kilduff’s article, where the author had stated that he used to abuse the former members of the commune, that day Jones decided that he will now go to Guyana, where even his numerous followed him which lead to mass migration in Guyana which considered mostly African- American people. After Jones came to Jonestown, the atmosphere there changed, the TV Shows and Films were filtered and shown to the members because of the political views portrayed in them.
People’s passports were snatched and they were made to sign documents that ranged from them accepting Jones as their children’s father and accepting that they had molested their children which they did not.
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