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1949_10_22--017_SP Truth About the Klan

18 files from thirty-two other states where old Klansmen have come together, formed Klaverns and are seeking affiliation with some higher governing body. In Alabama, Imperial Wizard William Hugh Morris, a roofing contractor, who spent the sultry months of summer in the Jefferson County jail for refusing to turn over his membership records to a grand jury investigating an outbreak of floggings, claims that his Federated Ku Klux Klans, Inc., has 20,000 members in Alabama and is growing so fast since the people became aroused by his martyrdom that it will number 100,000 in another twelve months. At Montgomery, Alabama, a fabulous old character named Dr. Lycurgus Spinks, who recently had himself named, somewhat redundantly, "Imperial Emperor" of a new group called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America, claims 265,000 members in six states. " They are scattered from "railer Rabbit to Vinegar Bend," said Doctor Spinks. "They go under all sorts of names. Some of them—like the Knights of Liberty and The Seventy-Sixers — don't even have the word Klan in their title. But they ain't a thing but old Ku Kluxes. This nation's full of the blame things. They're everywhere. There's the Seashores and the Ozarks and the Lone Stars and the Independents, and the Allieds and the River Valleys, and the I-don't-know-what-all else. All I need is some good men to go out and bring 'em all into the fold." From his jail cell in Birmingham, Imperial Wizard Morris, of the Alabama Klans, has read the public utterances of Imperial Emperor Spinks with amazement and indignation. He, too, he said, was pretty familiar with the Klan situation in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, where Doctor Spinks claims his greatest strength, and he never heard of the organizations which Doctor Spinks names. In fact, he said, he had never even heard of Doctor Spinks until the lecturer showed up in Birmingham, offering to make speeches that would help to get him out of jail. " I told him to go ahead and talk if he wanted to," Morris said ruefully. "I figured he couldn't do any harm, and I was willing to do anything that would help put my feet on the ground. He went out and talked to a couple of Klans of mine, and the first thing I knew he was down there at Montgomery calling himself Emperor and claiming to be head of something called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America. Two hundred and sixty-five thousand members, my foot! If he's got twenty-five men paying dues, it will surprise me." Emperor Spinks, on the other hand, speaks of Wizard Morris with great affection, describing him as a fine man and a good Klansman; though, of course, he didn't prove as smart as a Klan leader should be when he allowed himself to be jailed for contempt, Doctor Spinks feels, and there is a bare possibility that his claims of 20,000 members are slightly exaggerated, about ten times, say. In South Georgia, North Florida and Eastern Alabama, a fourth Klan is functioning, though held in low esteem by all the others, with the possible exception of Doctor Spinks, who loves everybody. This group, which calls itself the Original Southern Klaus, Inc., was founded by a Columbus, Georgia, attorney named Fred New, and a fiery old minister named Parson Jack Johnston, who fell out with the late Dr. Samuel Green over division of the dues and formed an association of their own. This organization has recently moved its headquarters to Florida, merging its identity with something called the Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls its leader— whose name is unknown to the public—by the sonorous title of "His Imperial Majesty, Samuel the Second." Old Georgia Klansmen feel the new organization has loused up the ritual, departing from the noble phraseology and the dramatic signs and signals laid down in 1915 by the first Wizard, a bourbon-soaked old gentleman named Simmons. Robed men believed to be members of the Southern Knights also figured in the news recently in a rather surprising manner when they allowed themselves to be ambushed, while holding a parade, by enraged citizens of Iron City, Georgia, who peppered them with birdshot. The bushwhacking citizenry were led by C. L. Drake, the one-armed mayor of Iron City, who, a few weeks before, had engaged in another brisk gun fight with robed, masked men, whom he had taken by surprise as they sneaked through a cow pasture toward his house. The mayor, a light sleeper, heard them coming and laid down a barrage. The masked men, he claimed, were coming to kidnap him and possibly do him harm for his outspoken criticism of Gov. Herman Talmadge. They returned his fire, but no blood was shed on either side. The current troubles of the Klan go deeper than the mere rivalry between leaders, each of whom claims his organization to be the only blown-in-thebottle Klan. Dr. Hiram Wesley Evans, the brains of the old Invisible Empire, Knights of the KKK, Inc., had already pulled out and had turned the Wizardship over to a bumbling Indianapolis veterinarian named James A. Colescott when, in 1944, Marion H. Allen, Collector of Internal Revenue at Atlanta, struck the gasping organization over the head with a $685,000 tax suit. The state of Georgia rushed in to kick the quivering carcass by revoking its charter. Seeking to avoid harassment by Federal tax agents, Doctor Green organized the Klan into an unchartered, voluntary association which, he claimed, was like a church in that it could do business anywhere in the United States under the constitutional guarantees of free assembly, without being subject to corporation taxes. This organization, though it had many troubles, was beginning to thrive and grow strong by the summer of 1949, when Doctor Green, who had recently elevated himself from Grand Dragon, or state leader, to Imperial Wizard, suffered a fatal heart attack while tending his flower garden. Shortly after Green's death, Mr. Allen, a persistent man, bludgeoned the new order—the AssociaVon of Georgia Klans—with another tax suit, this time for approximately $10,000. Samuel W. Roper, who inherited Doctor Green's Imperial robes— and his tax headaches—is a big, slow-talking man who served for twenty-five years as a patrolman and detective on the Atlanta police force, a lack of advancement which he attributes to city politics. Late in his career he took a leave of absence from the force to serve as head of the State Bureau of Identification, a job set up for him by his good friend, the late Eugene Talmadge, and his promotion to Wizard is taken as an indication that the Talmadge influence is strong in the Klan governing body, though neither the present governor, Herman Talmadge, nor his father was ever a member of the organization. The strength of Doctor Green as leader of the new Klan lay in his long allegiance to what he called the Christlike principles of Klankraft, and his willingness to discipline Klaverns which brought down public wrath upon the Klan's head by getting themselves involved in floggings. His successor, Wizard Roper, has publicly pledged himself to follow in Doctor Green's footsteps. The men who get the Klan in trouble, he (Continued on Page 122) WIDE WORLD NIce.t eolorl al of sariote. halm.' or. alai Vs &aid.. i. the articulate Dr. Lycurgus Spink-, of Montgomery. Alabama. His medical-sounding title is self-awarded; he was once a "for men onl■ " sexology spieler. Al l Sam Roper, ex-cop and protege of t he late Liagette Talmadge, is a leader in the move to merge Klans.


1949_10_22--017_SP Truth About the Klan
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