Foreign MilitariaUSA

45 USA: Knight's of the Ku Klux Klan: Robe of a KKK Hydra - Grand Night Hawk of the State of Illinois.

The robe and accompanying hood of finest red silk with white sleeves and white cord. Cuffs with gold embroidered rank insignia. Lining of fine white silk.

Klan emblem embroidered on both sides of the chest. The left breast side with additional KKK - brooch with attached Christian cross.

The hood with hand-sewn eye slits. Silk tassel at the tip. Embroidered inscription on the side "ILL." (Illinois).

Accompanied by the large-format certificate of appointment by the Ku Klux Klan to the Hydra - Grand Night Hawk of the State of Illinois for G.H. Hollison. Dated 1 March 1927, with embossed seals and original signatures of the Klan Chief Hiram Wesley Evans (Imperial Wizard) and the Secretary (Imperial Kligrapp).

In a modern frame under glass.

Exceptionally rare ensemble of a member of the highest level of leadership of the Ku Klux Klan from the heyday of the organisation under the leadership of the Imperial Wizard (Klan Chief) Hiram Wesley Evans (1922 - 1939).

The Klan had 3 million members under Evans' leadership in 1922 and was at the height of its influence in 1924 with around 4.5 - 6 million members (approx. up to 15 % of US voters).

The Evans Era 1922-1939

Grand Wizard Hiram Wesley Evans

Disagreements between the Klan leaders led first Simmons, and later Clarke (who went on to form his own Klan, the Supreme Kingdom), to leave the KKK and in November 1922 Hiram Wesley Evans, a Dallas dentist, took over the Klan leadership.

In the 1920s, the Klan spread throughout the USA. Under Evans, it rose to become a powerful secret organisation that succeeded in making hundreds of judges, sheriffs and mayors Klan-friendly, and even developed a partnership with the Pillar of Fire Church, founded by Methodist Alma Bridwell White. New members paid a $10 (inflation-adjusted over $100 in today's currency) initiation fee to join the sound groups. The Protestant church was used by the Klan to show when the Klan was coming to a new town: Members of the Klan would attend Sunday services (by prior arrangement with the minister) and leave a donation, which was received and blessed by the minister. When this was done, people knew that the Klan was now also in their town.

The Ku Klux Klan's use of the American flag and sacred Christian symbols such as the cross, which appealed to the self-image of the white Protestant majority in the USA, made it easy for them to recruit new members in the face of growing discontent among the white middle class. The Klan counted 3 million members in 1922 and was at the peak of its influence in 1924 with around 4.5 million members. Some active Ku Kluxers were even respected politicians in the Senate, the House of Representatives or at lower levels. Even individual presidents are said to have been members of the Klan. Under Evans, the Klan was most active politically, and terrorist acts increased immensely. The KKK defied existing laws and acted as a separate power in the state. In the course of emancipation, women also joined the KKK and founded their own groups such as Women of the Ku Klux Klan. In the meantime, up to 500,000 women were members of the Ku Klux Klan. During these times, however, the Knights of the Flaming Circle also emerged and organised against the Ku Klux Klan.

On 15 September 1923, the state of Oklahoma even declared martial law as a measure against the terror and murder of the secret society, a measure that, however, could not diminish the influence of the KKK. In many places, the Klan became an organisation that determined the whole life of its members. There were Klan holiday camps, Klan children's groups, various Klan meetings and leisure activities. One purpose of these activities, apart from bonding the members, was to earn money - some of the leaders of the clan made considerable wealth through their activities. However, disputes, splits and separate clan formations became more frequent. Evans often had to resort to civil courts, which further diminished the clan's reputation. In 1925, the Great Dragon D. C. Stephenson was tried by a court for the rape and murder of a teacher who was active in a programme to overcome illiteracy. After being sentenced to life imprisonment, Stephenson revealed lists of numerous bribes from the clan. As a result of his revelations, several politicians had to resign. Ordinary members were deterred and membership dropped enormously.

The reason for the further decline in membership was also the crimes of the Klan reported by the media, which contradicted the Klan's own image of the keeper of law and order, and the general negative press. By 1928, membership numbered only a few hundred thousand. In addition, the world economic crisis hit the Klan hard. Membership in the Klan involved expensive fees for various "services" (starting with initiation) as well as the cost of things like uniforms, which of course had to be obtained from the Klan leadership. The Klan failed to capitalise on the rising poverty and discontent during the crisis, and the white lower and middle classes instead became more involved in groups opposed to the Klan, such as the trade unions. Also, many former members simply could no longer afford the costly aspects of membership.

Eventually, Evans was forced to sell the Klan in 1939. No longer a secret society since 1928, the Klan regained some popularity in the 1960s.

Historically highly interesting ensemble on the history of this organisation and excellently suited for a museum exhibition.

To my knowledge, the first such ensemble of a senior Ku Klux Klan leader from this era to be offered at auction to date.

A museum object of the utmost rarity.