Hiram Wesley Evans

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Hiram Wesley Evans

Evans leading his Knights of the Klan on the parade held in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 1926
Born September 26, 1881(1881-09-26)
Ashland, Alabama
Died September 14, 1966 (aged 84)
Atlanta, Georgia
Education Vanderbilt University
Employer Ku Klux Klan
Title Imperial Wizard
Political party Democratic Party (United States)

Hiram Wesley Evans Photo (September 26, 1881 - September 14, 1966) was Imperial Wizard of the "second" Ku Klux Klan from 1922 until 1939. Evans succeeded William Joseph Simmons in the position of the Imperial Wizard in November 1922. Simmons was at the same time elected Emperor for life.[1]

Contents

Biography

He was born on September 26, 1881, in Ashland, Alabama, to Hiram Martin Evans and Georgia Ann Striplin, who were of Welsh descent. He studied dentistry at Vanderbilt University but did not get a degree. Evans later worked as a dentist in Dallas, Texas, until 1920. In the same year, he joined the Klan.

The second Klan was established by William J. Simmons a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1915 on Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia. The first Ku Klux Klan (1865-1869) existed to oppose Reconstruction and maintain white control over former slaves in the regions of the former Confederate States of America.

The second Klan was also anti-black, but it had a much wider agenda than the first. A nativist group, it was anti-Roman Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-labor union, and anti-communist. It was also supportive of the temperance movement and alcohol prohibition, which it pledged to enforce.

"Though men and women drop from the ranks they remain with us in purpose, and can be depended on fully in any crisis. Also, there are millions who have never joined, but who think and feel and -- when called on -- fight with us. This is our real strength, and no one who ignores it can hope to understand America today." – Hiram Wesley Evans[2]

The era of Evans' leadership of the Klan saw internal struggle, rapid growth of membership, and eventually rapid decline. After 1922, Simmons' and Evans' factions struggled for power and the organization's money. This internal conflict was often making the news across the country. The newspapers also focused on Klan violence, thus hurting its image nationwide. Amidst the negative press, Evans decided to show strength of the Klan and organized the largest parade of Klansmen ever. Some 40,000 Knights of the Ku Klux Klan paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in August 1925.[3][4] At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization included about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men.[5][6] In September 1926, Evans tried to repeat the parade but many fewer marchers arrived compared to 1925.

On January 16, 1939, Imperial Wizard Evans modified his anti-Catholic stance by accepting the invitation of Bishop Gerald P. O'Hara of the Savannah- Atlanta Catholic Diocese to attend the dedication ceremonies for Atlanta's new Cathedral of Christ the King. The property containing the new structure once was the site of the first national Klan headquarters.[7]

Evans was a thirty-second degree Mason who boasted of having helped re-elect Calvin Coolidge as President of the United States, of having secured passage of strict anti-immigration laws and of having checked the ambitions of Roman Catholics and others intent on "perverting" the nation.[3]

In 1942, he was put on trial for conspiracy, which ended in a mistrial.[8]

Death

He died on September 14, 1966, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Legacy

More negative press, reports of Klan's violence and attention of politicians led to flight of many members. During the Great Depression of 1930s the membership shrunk further to an estimated 30,000.[6] Evans was succeeded as the Imperial Wizard by James A. Colescott. He left him the Klan much weakened, compared to the situation when he began his leadership.

Publications

  • The Menace of Modern Immigration (1923)
  • The Klan of Tomorrow (1924)
  • Alienism in the Democracy (1927)
  • The Rising Storm (1929)
  • The Klan Fights for Americanism (1926).
  • Negro Suffrage--Its False Theory

External link

References

  1. "Klan Makes Simmons Emperor For Life. Dr. H.W. Evans of Dallas Is the New Imperial Wizard. Clarke Imperial Giant.". The New York Times. November 29, 1922. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980CEFDF1F3EEE3ABC4151DFB7678389639EDE. "Colonel William Joseph Simmons, formerly Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was elected "Emperor" for life, a new position in the order, at today's session of the Imperial Klanvokation here." 
  2. Evans, Hiram Wesley (March-April-May 1926). "The Klan's Fight for Americanism". The North American Review.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A special report prepared by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A Hundred Years of Terror. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
  4. "Procession". Time (magazine). August 17, 1925. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,720745,00.html. "Hiram Wesley Evans, Imperial Wizard, resplendent in purple and gold, smiled and bowed hat in hand as he proudly led some 30,000 to 50,000 Klansmen and Klanswomen down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the Treasury." 
  5. According to the 1920 census, the population of white males 18 years and older was about 31 million, but many of these men would have been ineligible for membership because they were immigrants, Jews, or Roman Catholics.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Ku Klux Klan, a brief biography. The African American Registry.
  7. The Ku Klux Klan in American Politics by Arnold S. Rice, page 105
  8. "Mistrial Is Declared In Evans Conspiracy Case". Christian Science Monitor. June 13, 1942. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/csmonitor_historic/access/278312652.html?dids=278312652:278312652&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Jun+13%2C+1942&author=&pub=Christian+Science+Monitor&desc=Mistrial+Is+Declared+In+Evans+Conspiracy+Case&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-02-11. "A mistrial was declared yesterday in the case of Hiram Wesley Evans, former national chief of the Ku Klux Klan, who was charged with conspiracy to defraud the State of Georgia." 
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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