Broadcast after final White Night

The final White Night – the deaths in Jonestown on November 18, 1978 – was months in the making. In addition to the physical preparations of stockpiling enough potassium cyanide (and proposing to make certain that it would work by testing it on a pig), the collections of statements of loyalty and commitment from Jonestown residents, and periodic suicide drills, the leadership wrote of the community’s threat of self-destruction  on several occasions. Some of these latter statements were public – such as Pam Bradshaw Moton’s open letter of March 1978 – and some were internal adminstrative documents, including Carolyn Layton’s discussion of options from early fall 1978.

One such document recovered following the deaths was a two-page statement to be broadcast “in case of a final white night.” There is neither a date nor a name on the document, but there are a few indications that it was written late in Jonestown’s history: Paul’s quote from I Corinthians of people “born out of due season” appears only one other place, and that is during Jim Jones’ final address to the world on the Death Tape; its tone is one of resignation; and much is written in the past tense. At the same time, it seems to be a work in progress – with both handwritten edits and ideas for additional paragraphs – and justifies a plan of retribution on Temple enemies, both of which suggest it was first drafted at least a few days before November 18.

Broadcast after final White Night, C-5-a, pp. 64-65a
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Last modified on March 21st, 2014.
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