Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Statement on Election of 1928 by Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan

Posted By on February 12, 2018

In the presidential election of 1928, Governor Alfred E. Smith, the candidate of the Democratic Party who by faith was a Roman Catholic, was pitted against Herbert Hoover, the candidate of the Republican Party.  Smith was the first of his religious background to be the standard bearer of a major political party.

In late September 1928, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Hiram W. Evans, sent a statement to the Lykens Standard, claiming that the Republican Party was not contributing any money to the Klan for efforts against Governor Smith. Today, this type of letter sent to a local newspaper in an area of the country where there was strong anti-Catholic sentiment and where the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence, as an effort to “solidify the base.”

In the statement, Evans did not deny that the Klan was working actively against Smith, but claimed that this effort was because the Klan considered his “ideas” as un-American and subversive.  “Ideas” was a code word for Smith’s Roman Catholic faith, and anyone reading the statement at the time clearly understood what Evans was saying.

This post is a continuation of the reporting on hate groups that were active in the Lykens Valley area in the years following the Civil War.  It was a widely known fact that the third iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in the Lykens Valley and adjacent valleys during the early years of the 20th Century.  This third iteration of the Klan was strongly white supremacist and was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.

From the Lykens Standard, 28 September 1928:


For days certain propaganda agencies have filled the newspapers of the United States with articles charging that the Ku Klux Klan was being financed by the Republican Party to make a whispering campaign against Governor Alfred E. Smith.  The fact that for years we have been maligned by such agencies caused us to ignore these statements.  Now, however, since they have been advanced by Governor Smith, the responsible head of the Democratic Party, we can not longer remain silent.

The Klan has never in its history received one dollar for any purpose whatsoever, that did not come from one of the following sources:  (1) From its Kleetoken or membership donation; (2) From Dues; (3) From Klans.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party, neither any individual or corporation has ever directly or indirectly furnished a single dollar to the Klan for any purpose whatsoever.  The Klan seeks no political preferment and has no political affiliations.

For years we have been fighting to preserve Americanism against subversion by un-American agencies and ideas.  Our fight against Governor Smith is because he represents these agencies and believes in these ideas.

Because of these facts the Klan has for years been publicly fighting Mr. Smith by the widest possible dissemination of the truth.  We have shouted, not whispered, and Governor Smith need not be surprised that millions of the American people know that he is unfitted for the presidency.

His statement that the Ku Klux Klan is receiving money from any source outside the Klan is unqualifiedly wholly false.  His attempt to raise the religious issue and to arouse hatred is clearly the desperate expedient of a man who knows he is beaten.




News article from Newspapers.com.

This post was previously published on the Lykens Valley Blog.


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