Association of Georgia Klans

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The Association of Georgia Klans, also known as the Associated Klans of Georgia was a Klan faction organized by Dr. Samuel Green in 1944, and led by him until his death in 1949. At its height the organization had klaverns in each of Georgia's 159 counties, as well as klaverns in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. It also had connections with klaverns and kleagles in Ohio[1] and Indiana. After Green death, however, the organization foundered as it split into different factions, was hit with a tax lien and was beset by adverse publicity. It was moribund by the time of the Supreme Court's "Black Monday" ruling in 1954.[2] A second Association of Georgia Klans was formed when Charles Maddox led dissatisfied members out of the U.S. Klans in 1960. This group appears to have folded into James Venable's National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan by 1965.[3] There is also a current Klan group by that name.[4]

History[edit]

Prelude[edit]

Two children wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods stand on either side of Dr. Samuel Green, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, at an initiation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia. July 24, 1948.

The Association was formed at the same klonvokation that dissolved the Second Era Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The new group was to be an "informal, unincorporated" alliance of klaverns which would remain active in the state of Georgia. Green was elected to the post of Grand Dragon, the usual designation of a state leader of the KKK. Initially there were only twelve klaverns in the Association.[5] In October 1945 the group conducted the first cross burning since the end of World War II atop Stone Mountain. At the time Green told the press that cross burning had been suspended during wartime because "all factions had to unite to win the war". At the time of the cross burning the Association claimed 20,000 members.[6] On March 21 the Klans attorney, Morgan Telser, filed a corporate registration with the Georgia Secretary of State for the "Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc" and paid up the dues for the period 1943-6.[7] On May 9, 1946 Green held the first large scale initiation ceremony on Stone Mountain. Approximately 1,000 on-lookers watched as 227 aliens were naturalized by 1,000 robed Klansmen under the light of five burning crosses. Green triumphantly announced "We are revived." The initiates included a bus load of visitors from Tennessee. The presence of women among the assembled Klan members was also noted. Some altercations broke out with journalists, as the AGK had granted Look exclusive rights to take pictures.[8][9][10]

Legal problems[edit]

These demonstrations were met with hostility from labor and political groups. On May 30 the Internal Revenue Service filed suit against the Association on the basis that they were a continuation of the former "Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc." and thus owed the government the $685,305 in back taxes owed by the former organization.[11] Green countered that his association was not organically linked to the Knights, though there was a five man board of directors who were tasked with "keeping the charter alive" and could "reactivate" the national klan at the appropriate time. Pending that, he led a group of klaverns informally "associated" with each other to perpetuate the beliefs and activities of the parent organization.[12]

The Klan also faced opposition from Gov. Ellis Arnall. The governor instructed Attorney General Eugene Cook to institute quo warranto proceedings against the group to revoke its charter. Among the reasons for the revocation of the charter, the governors order listed: that the Klan operated as a for-profit group, despite its non-profit charter, and as such owed federal back taxes; that it was political, despite being described as non-political in its charter; the Klan engaged in violent and unlawful activities; and despite its "fraternal" appellation, it existed to foster hate, prejudice and intolerance.[13] As for the Association of Georgia Klans being different from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Dan Duke, an assistant attorney general heading the investigation, stated that the Association was the "ragtag and bobtail of the old order and their claiming to be different will not interfere with the legal procedure contemplated in any way".[14] The quo warrento petition was presented to Judge Frank A. Hooper of Fulton County Superior Court on June 20. The petition alleged that the Association was, in effect, a for-profit organization that existed to enrich its officers. The petition further stated that the Association used the same Kloran, titles, passwords, grips and signs of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. and the seven klaverns in the Atlanta area were charted by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc.[15]

While the process to revoke the charter was going on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they had found evidence of specific violent acts, either claimed or contemplated by AGK members. A GBI infiltrater (Stetson Kennedy) announced that he had overheard members of the Klavalier Klub, a Klan wrecking crew[clarification needed], taking credit for the death of a black taxi driver the previous August and the flogging of another African American. The authorities linked this to the death of taxi driver Porter Flornoy Turner in August 1945, and the kidnapping and beating of black Navy veteran Hugh Johnson, who had been given 52 lashes on Feb. 13, 1946.[16][17][18] There was also an alleged conspiracy to assassinate or "take care of" Gov. Arnell.[19][20]

The legal manoeuvrings over the charter dragged on through the late summer and fall. Duke made trips to confer with New Jersey officials to clarify the Klans links with the German American Bund, and continuing links with fascists. In September, the Klan backed Eugene Talmage who won the Democratic primary. Talmage promised to drop the suit once he became Governor in January. The dateline for the suit to come to court was delayed throughout November and into December. It was finally scheduled for December 13. As the state courts were to adjourn on December 15, it was thought that the suit would never go to trial, as Talmage would soon be inaugurated.[21][22][23]

On December 21 Eugene Talmage died. There was no clear successor to the governor-elect, and the state's executive was thrown into chaos among competing claims to the governorship.[24] Talmagde was buried on the 23rd. The Klan sent a "huge" floral wreath with a white ribbon with four golden Ks emblazoned on it.[25] After a drawn-out crisis to determine who the next governor would be, Melvin E. Thompson was inaugurated on March 20, 1947. He pledged to continue the suit against the Klan.[26]

In June 1947, the Klan finally decided to surrender its Georgia state charter after the state dropped the charges of murder, flogging, false arrest and breach of the peace. Attorney General Eugene Cook stated that it would be too difficult to prove the individual acts of violence were attributable to the organization. This prevented the AGK from suing to protect its name, or have any other sanction of law, but did not dissolve the Association.[27] On Nov. 4, 1947 Cook announced that files on the Klan which named "prominent individuals" were stolen from his office.[28]

Voter intimidation[edit]

In the 1948 election the AGK used intimidation tactics to discourage black voters. In Wrightsville 300 robed klansmen paraded in the street before the Democratic primary and burned a 15 ft cross on the county courthouse lawn. Grand Dragon Green condemned President Harry S. Truman's civil rights policies and told the crowd "whenever the Negro takes a place at the side of a white man thru the force of federal bayonets, blood will flow in the streets". None of the 241 qualified black voters voted in the next days Democratic primary.[29] In Swainsboro, Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville cross burnings, threatening letters and the distribution of cofins marked "KKK" convinced black voters to stay at home. Green was rewarded by being appointed a lieutenant colonel and aide-de-camp of the Governor.[30][31]

Relationships with other groups[edit]

Despite sharing the antisemitic and anti-black beliefs of the Columbians, Inc., also based in Atlanta, the two groups did not necessarily get along. One of the reasons Klan attorney Morgan Belser gave for the AGKs attempt to reactivate its charter was to squelch attempts by the Columbians or other "radical groups" to appropriate the Klans name.[32][33] When a Columbian attempted to assassinate journalist Stetson Kennedy in an Atlanta courtroom in 1947, it was a fellow Klansmen, Ira Jett, who knocked to would be attacker out of the way.[34]

Publications[edit]

  • Ideals of the Ku Klux Klan. Assn. of Ga. Klans [Atlanta?]

References[edit]

  1. ^ By, D. P. (1947, May 19). Merry-go-round. The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. 12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151959702?accountid=5683
  2. ^ Michael and Judy Ann Newton eds. The Ku Klux Klan; an encyclopedia Garland Reference Library of the Social Science Vol.499 London and New York; Garland Publishing inc. 1991 pp.xi, 27-8, 238
  3. ^ Newton and Newton pp.374–375
  4. ^ Association of Georgia Klans
  5. ^ By The, U. P. (1949, Aug 19). Green, klan chief, dies at his home. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/105693513?accountid=5683
  6. ^ Klan in georgia becomes active. (1945, Oct 21). Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File), pp. 10. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/165646223?accountid=5683
  7. ^ Labor in georgia asks klan inquiry. (1946, May 11). New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 30. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107541621?accountid=5683
  8. ^ Rice, Arnold S The Ku Klux Klan in American politics Washington, Public Affairs Press 1962 pp.108–9
  9. ^ Thousands don robes in fiery klan revival. (1946, May 11). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923–1963), pp. 6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/177285671?accountid=5683
  10. ^ By, D. P. (1946, Jun 03). Washington merry-go-round. The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. B6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151857388?accountid=5683
  11. ^ U.S. sues georgia klan for $685,305 in taxes. (1946, May 31). Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File), pp. 6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/165656538?accountid=5683
  12. ^ By HAROLD B HINTON Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Jun 19). Klan head denies national status. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107552074?accountid=5683
  13. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, May 31). Georgia orders action to revoke charter of klan. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107779892?accountid=5683
  14. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Jun 01). Klan issue grows in georgia poll. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107577150?accountid=5683
  15. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Jun 21). Klan is accused of a revolt plot. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 46–46. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107456377?accountid=5683
  16. ^ Newton and Newton p.321
  17. ^ Slaying linked to reborn klan after boasts. (1946, Jun 08). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923–1963), pp. 13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/177189736?accountid=5683
  18. ^ Bosting on flogging charged to klan affiliate in georgia. (1946, Jun 08). The Christian Science Monitor (1908–Current File), pp. 7–7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/515750775?accountid=5683
  19. ^ By HAROLD B HINTON Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Jun 22). Georgia klan curb to be moral only. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 21. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107581863?accountid=5683
  20. ^ Newton and Newton p.24
  21. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Nov 30). Klan wins delay on georgia's suit. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 21. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107576751?accountid=5683
  22. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Nov 10). Georgia says klan sought bund help. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 23–23. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107555073?accountid=5683
  23. ^ Jersey and georgia join to fight klan. (1946, Aug 10). The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. 5–5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151884220?accountid=5683
  24. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1946, Dec 22). Talmadge is dead at 62 in georgia. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107512116?accountid=5683
  25. ^ Thousands in homage to talmadge at bier. (1946, Dec 23). New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 23. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107638095?accountid=5683
  26. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1947, Mar 21). Thompson poshes georgia klan case. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 4. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107913792?accountid=5683
  27. ^ Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1947, Jun 14). Klan surrenders georgia charter. New York Times (1923–Current File), pp. 30. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107915464?accountid=5683
  28. ^ Data on klan stolen from ga. capitol. (1947, Nov 05). The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. 13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151923451?accountid=5683
  29. ^ Not one negro votes in georgia election after klan parade. (1948, Mar 04). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923–1963), pp. 14–14. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/177446267?accountid=5683
  30. ^ Rice p.109
  31. ^ Newton and Newton pp.352–3
  32. ^ National ku klux charter revoked by state of georgia. (1947, Jun 14). The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151935473?accountid=5683
  33. ^ Klan surrenders georgia charter in surprise move. (1947, Jun 14). The Christian Science Monitor (1908–Current File), pp. 17–17. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/516087790?accountid=5683
  34. ^ North, S. (1947, Apr 20). Saved from columbians by klan! The Washington Post (1923–1954), pp. S13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/151946386?accountid=5683