Jonestown , November 18, , location of the mass murder-suicide of members of the California -based Peoples Temple cult at the behest of their charismatic but paranoid leader, Jim Jones , in Jonestown agricultural commune , Guyana. The death toll exceeded , including some who were age 17 and under, making the incident one of the largest mass deaths in American history. With little interference from the Guyanese government, Jonestown was a virtually autonomous settlement. The Jonestown massacre was a mass murder-suicide of the Peoples Temple cult at the behest of their leader, Jim Jones , in After cult members attacked Congressman Leo Ryan, who was investigating the cult, Jones enacted a suicide plan at the Jonestown compound. A fruit drink laced with cyanide was given to children and adult members, killing more than people. Jones died of a gunshot wound.
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Until the September 11th attacks, the tragedy in Jonestown on November 18th, represented the largest number of American civilian casualties in a single non-natural event. It is unfathomable now, as it was then, that more than Americans — members of a San Francisco-based religious group called the Peoples Temple — died after drinking poison at the urging of their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, in a secluded South American jungle settlement. Photographs taken after the carnage forever document the sheer enormity of the event: the bodies of hundreds of people, including children, lying face down in the grass. Nearly 40 years later, the infamous and horrific event continues to fascinate us through numerous books, articles and documentaries. The story of Jonestown begins with Jones, a white minister who preached unconventional socialist and progressive ideas to a predominantly African-American congregation, called the Peoples Temple. At the height of its popularity during the s, the Temple had a membership estimated in the thousands and was courted by local politicians in San Francisco , including Harvey Milk. Jonestown in Guyana, the remote country east of Venezuela.
A Congressman's visit threatened to expose Jonestown lies.
As the self-proclaimed messiah of the Peoples Temple religious cult, Jones promised his followers utopia if they followed him. On November 18, , in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre, Jones led more than men, women and children to their deaths in a mass suicide via cyanide-laced punch spawning the metaphor "Don't Drink the Kool-Aid". The fascination with Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple have helped spawn various movies throughout the years. After years of struggling to find his way, Jones announced that he was entering the ministry in He got a job as a student pastor at the Somerset Methodist Church in a poor, predominantly white neighborhood in Indianapolis. By the following year, Jones was making a reputation for himself in the state as a healer and evangelist. He was interested in holding racially integrated services, but this interest was not shared by his church. Soon Jones branched out on his own, forming the Wings of Deliverance church in The church soon became known as the Peoples Temple.
James Warren Jones May 13, — November 18, was an American preacher, civil rights activist , and faith healer turned cult leader who conspired with his inner circle to direct a mass murder-suicide of his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown , Guyana. He launched the Peoples Temple in Indiana during the s. Jones was ordained in by the Independent Assemblies of God and in by the Disciples of Christ. He then left the United States, bringing many members to a Guyana jungle commune called Jonestown.