Grand dragon: D.C. Stephenson and the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana
Who was the man who could proclaim with arrogant self-confidence, "I am the law in Indiana", and how did he and the Ku Klux Klan rise to a position of power unparalleled in other states? Why was the Klan so powerful in a northern state such as Indiana? The Ku Klux Klan reached its height in the 1920s, and nowhere was it as large and politically powerful as in Indiana, where about 30 percent of the native-born white male population were klansmen. This book explores the career of D. C. Stephenson, grand dragon of the Indiana Klan, his rise to power, and his eventual conviction for second-degree murder in 1925. Grand Dragon traces Stephenson's background, still shrouded in mystery due to Stephenson's own colorful but imaginary accounts of his early years. A political opportunist, Stephenson's rise to power in the Klan was startlingly swift, but so was his fall from grace. Tried in Klan country for the rape and murder of a young government worker, Stephenson was convicted and imprisoned for a crime of which some still consider him innocent. The cornerstone of Lutholtz's narration is his account of Stephenson's trial, for which the 2,347-page court transcript has been missing for thirty years. Lutholtz has painstakingly culled material from archives and newspaper accounts to re-create the trial in all its dramatic detail. A model of investigative reporting, Grand Dragon captures the reader with its skillful narration and compelling story. It also raises troubling issues for the modern reader: Was Stephenson guilty of the crime for which be was imprisoned? Why was membership in the Klan so widespread in the 1920s? What are the dangers of charismatic leadership? And why is this disturbingchapter of Indiana history not better known?
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