KU KLUX KLAN: Kleveland Konvention
(TIME, June 23, 1924) -- Many men went to Cleveland hoping, trying to put an anti-Ku Klux Klan plank in the Republican platform. They had prepared a plank which read thus:
This party pledges itself and its candidates to stand inflexibly for government by due process of law and against all groups, open or secret, which attempt to take the law into their own hands. If its candidates are elected, this party gives assurance that no act of theirs will render aid or comfort to any organization based on prejudice or discrimination against any citizens for reasons of race, color, or creed.
R.B. Creager of Texas, a friend of the late President Harding, was one of the leaders of the movement. He declared that the Klan proscribed:
20,000,000 Foreigners 16,000,000 Catholics 10,000,000 Negroes 4,000,000 Jews _________ 50,000,000 people
It was a glaring indictment. It carried the inference that the party which opposed the Klan could win the support of half the people in the country. But the Republican Party was unpersuaded. It chose to temporize and inserted a plank of no particular meaning:
The Republican Party reaffirms its unyielding devotion to the Constitution and to the guarantees of civil, political and religious liberty therein contained.
So Mr. Creager of Texas went away somewhat discomfited. But another Texan went away feeling much better. He was Dr. Hiram Wesley Evans, a dentist by profession. Dr. Evans thrives in the regalia of Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
It was late in the Fall of 1922, some 18 months ago, that this Texan - a round-faced, plump man, somewhere in his forties, looking not unlike a successful, energetic politician - was elevated to the Wizardry from whence he directs the affairs of the Klan, controlling all the Imperial Genii - Klaliffs, Klaziks, Klokards, Kludds, Kligrapps, Klabees, Kladds, Klarogos, Klexters, Klonsels, Night Hawks, ---- as well as Kleagles, Giants, Cyclopes, Titans, Klepeers, Goblins, Dragons, Terrors, Klokans and common Klansmen-supreme over all the Klantons, Provinces and Realms of the Invisible Empire as well as Klonvocations, Konciliums, and Klonclaves as set forth in the Kloran and symbolized in the Klikon.
But for all his high nomenclature, he is a modest man, who describes himself as "the most average man in America," and who once said to his Knights: "We have not been appointed by Almighty God or any Imperial Wizard to go out meddling in other people's business. . . . Get behind the law."
This personage, the visible Emperor of the invisible Empire, with a retinue estimated at 60 souls, moved into Cleveland shortly before the Convention. He established headquarters in a private house on Euclid Avenue, which according to some accounts was rented, according to others borrowed of a prominent Klansman. From there he conducted his efforts against an anti-Klan plank. His comparative success is attested by the plank quoted above.
Only one setback was believed to have attended his visit in Cleveland. That took place in regard to the Vice Presidential aspirations of Senator Jim Watson of Indiana.
At Cleveland, some Indiana Klansman at the Imperial headquarters let it be known that the Klan wanted Watson for Vice President. A storm ensued. "Are they trying to kill me politically?" demanded the Senator. "I don't belong to the K.K.K. If they have issued a statement naming me, they have done it for the express purpose of injuring me."
Thereupon Dr. Evans denied emphatically that he was for Watson:
"The statement that the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are demanding the nomination of any man to any office is unqualifiedly false. I am the only man authorized to authoritatively speak for the Klan, and I solemnly deny that any political party will be allowed to attach, own or disown the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. (Signed) "Dr. H. W. Evans, "Imperial Wizard, "Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."
Be that as it may, Senator Watson, when asked if he favored an anti-Klan plank, asseverated:
"No, I do not. A platform, I believe, should be exclusively a statement of fundamentals which may be crystallized later into legislation. The Klan is a religious, not a political issue."
But whether the Klan is religious or political, Dr. Evans watched the Republican Convention with a critical eye; and it was made known that there would be a Klan headquarters in Manhattan during the Democratic Convention. Emperor Hiram has his finger on the pulse.
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