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.
Origins of the Peoples Temple
The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project , better known by its informal name " Jonestown ", was a remote settlement established by the Peoples Temple , a cult under the leadership of Jim Jones , in Guayana Esequiba , a disputed territory in northwestern Guyana claimed by Venezuela. It became internationally known when, on November 18, , a total of   people died at the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma , and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown , Guyana's capital city. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations. In total, individuals died in Jonestown,  all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed "revolutionary suicide" by Jones and some Peoples Temple members on an audio tape of the event, and in prior recorded discussions.
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F our decades ago this Sunday, the Rev Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of an American cult in the Guyanese jungle, ordered his followers to murder a US congressman and several journalists, then commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch. More than people died, many children. It was also a devastating cultural trauma: the end of the last strains of a certain kind of s idealism and s radicalism. In actuality it was Fla-Vor-Aid. Although he would later become a symbol of the darker side of the west coast counterculture, Jim Jones was born to a poor family in Indiana. Described as an intelligent and strange child, Jones was instinctively attracted to religion, especially charismatic Christian traditions like Pentecostalism. He cut his teeth as a street preacher, and was, unusually for the time and place, a passionate advocate for racial equality. He called his burgeoning church the Peoples Temple.
Teri Buford O'Shea fled Jonestown three weeks before all its inhabitants committed suicide. Here, she explains why the tragedy should be a cautionary tale for everyday people. On November 18, , Jim Jones and more than members of his People's Temple committed mass suicide in the jungle of Guyana. Since that time, the event has occupied a grotesque but fringy place in American history. Jones's followers are imagined as wide-eyed innocents, swallowing his outrageous teachings along with his cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Teri Buford O'Shea remembers things quite differently.