Articles/History/Other/Jonestown Massacre

In 1955, a cult known as the "People's Temple" was founded by a man named James Warren Jones. The cult originally operated out of Indianapolis, but moved to California in 1965. The cult preached radical socialism and other very liberal ideologies. They also allowed interracial worship, which was unheard of at the time and attracted a lot of negative attention.

When the government started putting pressure on the cult, Jones began preaching about how the cult should relocate in order to escape capitalism and live as a commune. In 1977, the cult finally moved to Guyana in South America. The cult purchased a parcel of land and built a small colony there, which they named Jonestown.

When relatives of the members of the cult filed complaints with the government, several investigations were conducted. In 1978, a congressman from California named Leonard Ryan traveled there to try to rescue some people. He was forced to cut his trip short after a member of the cult threatened his life, but he managed to convince some of the cult members to return with him. As they were boarding a plane, armed cult members fired upon them, killing Ryan and several others.

Since some of the cult members had survived the attack and escaped back to the United States, Jones knew that his cult was in trouble. He convinced the cult's 912 members to commit mass suicide in order to preserve their religion. The entire group drank a cocktail of grape Kool-Aid combined with cyanide, sedatives, and some other drugs. The event on November 20, 1978 became known as the Jonestown Massacre.

When the massacre was discovered by government officials, they came upon a very disturbing scene. Among the mounds of bodies were the corpses of 276 children. They also found that many of the bodies had puncture marks, indicating that they had died from injections. Other bodies had gunshot wounds, causing officials to believe that foul play had taken place.