In 1948, four months after the publication of Cry, The Beloved Country, the separatist National Party came to power in South Africa. Paton, together with Margaret Ballinger, Edgar Brookes, and Leo Marquard, formed the Liberal Association in early 1953. On May 9 of that year it became the Liberal Party of South Africa, with Paton as a founding co-vice-president, which fought against the apartheid legislation introduced by the National Party. He served as president of the LPSA until its forced dissolution by the apartheid regime in the late 1960s, officially because its membership comprised both blacks and whites. Paton was a friend of Bernard Friedman, founder of the Progressive Party. Paton's writer colleague Laurens van der Post, who had moved to England in the 1930s, helped the party in many ways. Van der Post knew that the South African Secret Police were aware that he was paying money to Paton, but could not stop it by legal procedures. Paton himself adopted a peaceful opposition in protests against apartheid, as did many others in the party; some SALP members took a more violent route, and consequently some stigma did attach to the party. Paton's passport was confiscated on his return from New York in 1960, where he had been presented with the annual Freedom Award. It was not returned for ten years.