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Jews & the Slave Trade: Jews Were the Most Common Buyers and Sellers of Slaves, Owners of Most Slave Ships

According to an interview given by Orthodox Rabbi Lody van de Kamp to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency newspaper on December 26, 2013: “Money was earned by Jewish communities in South America, partly through slavery, and went to Holland, where Jewish bankers handled it....In one area of what used to be Dutch Guyana, 40 Jewish-owned plantations were home to a total population of at least 5,000 slaves,” he says. “Known as the Jodensavanne, or Jewish Savannah, the area had a Jewish community of several hundred before its destruction in a slave uprising in 1832. Nearly all of them immigrated to Holland, bringing their accumulated wealth with them."

They came with ships carrying African blacks to be sold as slaves. The traffic in slaves was a royal monopoly, and the Jews were often appointed as agents for the Crown in their sale. They were the largest ship chandlers in the entire Caribbean region, where the shipping business was mainly a Jewish enterprise. The ships were not only owned by Jews, but were manned by Jewish crews and sailed under the command of Jewish captains


Advertisements by Jewish slave traders from newspapers of the 1800s

The West India Company, which monopolized imports of slaves from Africa, sold slaves at public auctions against cash payment. It happened that cash was mostly in the hands of Jews. The buyers who appeared at the auctions were almost always Jews, and because of this lack of competitors they could buy slaves at low prices. On the other hand, there also was no competition in the selling of the slaves to the plantation owners and other buyers, and most of them purchased on credit payable at the next harvest in sugar. Profits up to 300 percent of the purchase value were often realized with high interest rates.

On the Caribbean island of Curacao, Dutch Jews may have accounted for the resale of at least 15,000 slaves landed by Dutch transatlantic traders, according to Seymour Drescher, a Jewish historian at the University of Pittsburgh. Jews were so influential in those colonies that slave auctions scheduled to take place on Jewish holidays often were postponed, according to Marc Lee Raphael, a professor of Judaic studies at the College of William & Mary.

It was not until 1655 that slavery for life became a legally sanctioned institution in the North American colonies however. In that year, Anthony Johnson, a free black Angolian who had been brought to Virginia as an indentured servant and who had worked off his term of indenture years earlier, went to court over the ownership of a black servant named John Casor, who Johnson claimed ownership of saying that Casor had been sold to him as his slave for life. Corroborating testimony in the case was provided by a Jewish merchant named Capt. Samuel Goldsmith, with the court deciding in Johnson's favor, legally recognizing John Casor as his slave for life, setting the precedent for lifetime slave ownership in the colonies of North America; a peculiar institution that Jewish sea-faring merchants and traders soon found extremely profitable.

By the time of the American Revolution, over 30 Jewish families could be found in Newport, Rhode Island, alone, bearing family names such as Lopez, Levy, Rivera, Seixas, deToro (Touro), Gomez and Hays. In the New World, the Jews continued to engage in their long established careers as merchants and money lenders, manufacturers and sellers of alcoholic beverages, and were leaders in the forefront of the slave trade, amassing vast fortunes by importing and selling African slaves to the colonial plantations.

Some of the Jews of Newport and Charleston who were engaged in the distillery or slavery trade, or both, were: Isaac Gomez, Hayman Levy, Jacob Malhado, Naphtaly Myers, David Hart, Joseph Jacobs, Moses Ben Franks, Moses Gomez, Isaac Dias, Benjamin Levy, David Jeshuvum, Jacob Pinto, Jacob Turk, Daniel Gomez, James Lucana, Jan de Sweevts, Felix (cha-cha) de Souza (known as the 'Prince of Slavers' and second only to Aaron Lopez), Simeon Potter, Isaac Elizer, Jacob Rod, Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, Haym Isaac Carregal, Abraham Touro, Moses Hays, Moses Lopez, Judah Touro, Abraham Mendes and Abraham All.

 The following is a partial list of the slave ships owned by Jews:

'Abigail' owned by Aaron Lopez, Moses Levy and Jacob Franks.
'Crown' owned by Isaac Levy and Nathan Simpson.
'Nassau' owned by Moses Levy.
'Four Sisters' owned by Moses Levy.
'Anne & Eliza' owned by Justus Bosch and John Abrams.
'Prudent Betty' owned by Henry Cruger and Jacob Phoenix.
'Hester' owned by Mordecai and David Gomez.
'Elizabeth' owned by David and Mordecai Gomez.
'Antigua' owned by Nathan Marston and Abram Lyell.
'Betsy' owned by Wm. DeWoolf.
'Pouy' owned by James DeWoolf.
'White Horse' owned by Jan de Sweevts.
'Expedition' owned by John and Jacob Rosevelt.
'Charlotte' owned by Moses and Sam Levy and Jacob Franks.
'Caracoa' owned by Moses and Sam Levy.

Slave-runners, also owned by Jews, were the 'La Fortuna', the 'Hannah', the 'Sally', and the 'Venue'.

In 1710 a Jewish immigrant named Jacob Franks arrived in New York from London and lived as a boarder in the household of Moses and Rachael Levy, later marrying their 16 year old daughter, Abigail in 1712. Acknowledged as a linguist and Judaic scholar, Jacob was the son of Adam Franks of Germany, a friend of King George of Hanover, who loaned that monarch the most valuable jewels in his coronation crown. Jacob Franks was the British king’s sole agent for the Northern Colonies at New York and his son David was the king’s agent for Pennsylvania. An eminent and wealthy merchant, he engaged in the slave trade, privateering, general commerce, and shipping. He was also very involved in the Jewish community and the construction of the Shearith Israel synagogue as well as president of the congregation in 1730. The Franks family was one of the leading families in Colonial New York, not only within the small Jewish community but also within the larger elite secular social circle comprised of prominent Protestant families. 

<p></p> <p>Jacob Franks</p>
<p>Moses Levy</p>

Moses Levy, brother-in-law to Jacob Franks, was born in New York in the early 18th century. A prominent slave-trader and merchant, Moses Levy of New York and Newport, was one of several Ashkenazi Jewish families in Newport at that time. Levy lived in one of Newport's large colonial mansions at 29 Touro Street, which he willed to Moses Seixas in 1792. Levy was also one of the original benefactors of Touro Synagogue.

Samson Levy, a Jewish merchant living in Philadelphia, led a boycott in November, 1765, against the importation of goods from England to the colonies by signing a resolution along with six other Philadelphia Jewish merchants in protest against the tax known as the Stamp Act.

Aaron Lopez, was born in 1731 in Lisbon, Portugal, as "Duarte Lopez" to a Jewish family who had ostensibly converted to Catholicism in order to avoid deportation but secretly continued to practicing Judaism. Lopez followed his older brother, Moses, to North America in 1752, where he immediately dropped the Christian name Duarte, took the Hebrew name Aaron, submitted to ritual circumcision, and began openly living as a Jew. Settling in Newport, Rhode Island, where his brother had located a decade earlier. Like his uncle and future father-in-law, Aaron established himself as a whale-oil merchant and a manufacturer of spermaceti candles. In 1761, Aaron, Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, and seven other merchants formed a cartel to control the price and distribution of whale oil. That same year he and Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, purchased a brigantine sailing ship named Grayhound which sailed to Africa in 1763, bringing back a cargo of 134 Africans who were sold as slaves to fellow Jew, Isaac de Costa, in South Carolina. Four captains made thirteen of the voyages to Africa, bringing back some 1,275 black slaves. Between 1761 and 1774, Aaron Lopez underwrote 21 slave ships and by the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he owned or controlled 30 vessels. Lopez soon amassed a vast fortune through shipping, the slave trade, candle making, distilling rum, producing chocolate, textiles, clothing, shoes, hats, bottles and barrels. By the early 1770s, Lopez had become the wealthiest person in Newport and his tax assessment was twice that of any other resident.

<p>Aaron Lopez</p>
<p>Jacob Rivera</p>

Jacob Rodriguez Rivera (uncle and father-in-law of Aaron Lopez) hailed from a Marrano family from Seville, Spain. He arrived in Newport via Curacao in 1748 where he became a prosperous merchant and slave-trader. Next to Aaron Lopez, Rivera occupied the highest position in the commercial, religious and social life of Newport’s Jewish community. His daughter Sarah, married Aaron Lopez and his son Jacob owned a grand mansion on the Parade that is today located at 8 Washington Square.

In 1747 Isaac de Costa, a Sephardic Jew born in London, arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, where he established himself as a merchant, shipping-agent, and slave-trader, who built a considerable fortune bringing hundreds of black slaves overseas from Africa. Isaac da Costa had been initiated into Freemasonry and appointed a Masonic Deputy Inspector General by fellow Jew Moses Michael Hayes and went on to establish the Sublime Grand Masonic Lodge of Perfection in Charleston prior to his death in 1783.

In 1756 Moses Lindo, a Sephardic Jew born in London in 1712, arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, where he established himself as a slave-owning planter and merchant in the cochineal and indigo trade with London. Lindo imported 49 slaves from Barbados to his South Carolina plantation in the 1750s. At one point in his career he ran an advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette stating that: "If any person is willing to part with a plantation of 500 acres with 60 or 70 Negroes, I am ready to purchase it for ready money." In 1762 he was appointed "Surveyor and Inspector-General of Indigo, Drugs, and Dyes."

Also arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1756, was Moses Lindo's twenty year old indentured servant, Jonas Phillips, who had been born Jonah Feibush in Frankfurt, Germany. After serving his term of indenture, Phillips moved first to Albany, New York in 1759, and then to New York City, where he became a merchant and dealer in slaves. By 1760 Phillips had joined the New York Lodge of Freemasons, and served as shohet (ritual slaughterer) and bodek (examiner of meat) for Shearith Israel. Settling in Philadelphia just before the American Revolution, Phillips was a staunch advocate of the Non-Importation Agreement, and by the beginning of the Revolutionary War he supported the cause of American Independence and in 1778 he enlisted in the Philadelphia militia. By the year 1782 was the second wealthiest Jew in the city. He and his wife Rebecca Mendes Machado maintained their South Carolina ties through several of their 21 children.

Benjamin Mordecai of Charleston was one of the largest slave traders in South Carolina. Of his participation in the Civil War the Boston Transcript reported that Mordecai "has presented to his belligerent state and city $10,000, to aid the purpose of secession, with the offer besides of a large number of negroes to work in the cause..." In 1857, he advertised in the Charleston Courier, "Prime Field Negros and House Servants" for sale. They included: Coachmen and House Servants Cooks, Seamstresses, Washers and Ironers - Tom, 25 years of age John, 21 Lilburn, 24 Isaac, 22 Elvy, 18 Amelia, 22 Lydia, 40 Louisa, 40 Patsy, 19; Nurse Field Hands and Laborers Caroline,17 Betsy, 17 Catherine, 16 Octavia, 16 Mary, 28 Sarah, 30; w/ child Sarah, 18 Saunders, 22 Sampson, 30 Moses, 33; woodworker Henry, 20 Lawrence, 45 Dave, 25; laborer Henry, 22; tailor Lucy, 19 Margaret, 16 Milly, 17 Salina, 16 Nancy, 20; with 2 children Susan, 30 Caroline, 18 Benjamin, 25 Sam, 16; ploughboy Lindsay, 27 Isaac, 18 Byron, 22 Nat, 30. As a merchant and sailor, Mordecai regularly shipped slaves to New Orleans between 1846 and 1860 and bought at least 102 slaves at Charleston district judicial sales of the 1850s.

In 1757 Isaac Monsanto, a Sephardic Jew born in the Netherlands arrives in New Orleans by way of Curacao establishing himself as a merchant and engaging in the business of shipping slaves and cargo from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1767 Monsanto purchased a plantation known as Trianon outside of New Orleans. By the time the second Spanish governor took control in 1769, expelling the Jews from Louisiana, Isaac Monsanto had become one of New Orleans' wealthiest merchants. Under Spanish rule, Monsanto was stripped of his holdings and forced to leave the territory, relocating to the town of Mancha near Lake Pontchartrain in British territory, where he was joined by his brothers, Manuel, Jacob and Benjamin; while their sisters relocated to Pensacola, then part of British West Florida. Following Isaac's death in 1778, Manuel, Jacob and Benjamin Monsanto continued to manage their mercantile firm, dealing not only in dry goods but in real estate, commodities, debt collection and slaves. Records show that Benjamin Monsanto traded thirteen slaves for some three thousand pounds of indigo in 1785. By 1790, Manuel and Jacob had set up shop on Toulouse Street in New Orleans, while Benjamin and his wife Clara moved to a 500 acre plantation worked by eleven slaves on St Catherine's Creek near Natchez, Mississippi, where he continued operating part of the family business until his death in 1794. The Monsanto chemical corporation was founded by John Francis Queeny, who married Olga Mendez Monsanto, daughter of Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto, a descendant of this family.

<p>David Levy Yulee</p>

David Levy Yulee was born David Levy on June 12, 1810, on the island of St. Thomas. His father, a Sephardic Jew named Moses Elias Levy was a cousin and business partner of Phillip Benjamin, the father of future Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, and had made a fortune in lumber while living in the Caribbean. After the family immigrated to the United States, David's father purchased 50,000 acres of land near present-day Jacksonville, Florida, where he hoped to establish a "New Jerusalem" for Jewish settlers.In 1845, after Florida was admitted as a state, he became the first Jew elected to the United States Senate. Levy officially changed his name to David Levy Yulee (adding his father's Sephardic surname) in 1846.Using the labors of 69 slaves, Yulee built the a sugar mill which began operating in 1851 to process the sugar cane grown on his 5,100 acre plantation along the Homosassa River. By the time of the Civil War, the Yulee Sugar Mill was employing the labors of more than 100 slaves when in full operation. In 1853 Yulee chartered the Florida railroad for which he began issuing public stock, as the Florida Railroad in 1853. His company began construction in 1855.With state grants obtained through his Florida Internal Improvement Act of 1855, Yulee began securing federal and state land grants to build a network of railroads through the Florida wilderness  On March 1, 1861, the first train arrived from the east in Cedar Key, just weeks before the beginning of the Civil War. Elected to the Senate again in 1855, Yulee served until January 21, 1861, when he withdrew from the Senate after Florida seceded. He joined the Congress of the Confederacy. His development of the railroads was his most important achievement and contribution to the state of Florida, bringing increased economic development to the state.

<p>Judah P. Benjamin</p>

Judah P. Benjamin, a Sephardic Jewish immigrant born in 1811 on Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands, he was brought to the United States by his parents in 1813 at the age of two. In 1833 he married Natalie Bauche de St. Martin, the 16-year-old daughter of a prominent and wealthy New Orleans French Creole family. He purchased a sugar cane plantation in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, along with 150 slaves. In 1852, he was elected by the state legislature to the US Senate from Louisiana, becoming the second Jewish senator in U.S. history, after the election of his cousin, David Levy Yulee, in 1845. After Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1861, Benjamin resigned from his seat as a U.S. senator and was appointed as the Attorney General of the Confederate States 11 days later by Jefferson Davis. In September 1861, Benjamin became the acting Confederate Secretary of War and was later appointed as the Confederate Secretary of State in March 1862. In the aftermath following the end of the Civil War, Benjamin and Davis were suspected of plotting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln carried out by John Wilkes Booth. Fearing that he would be brought to justice, Benjamin fled to the United Kingdom where, with the aid of the Jewish Lord Rothschild, he obtained a position as a barrister and in 1872 was appointed Queen's Counsel, during the time when Britain's first Jewish Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was in office.

<p></p> <p>John Wilkes Booth</p>

John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) a famous American stage actor was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth theatrical family from Maryland. According to the autobiography of his sister Asia Booth, their father, Junius Brutus Booth, was “born in 1796 to a highly educated clan of Jewish lawyers and silversmiths.” The Booth family were originally Sephardic Jewish wine merchants from Portugal who ran a business exporting wine through the ports of northern England as far back as 1569. John Wilkes Booth's paternal great-great-great-grandfather was Ricardo Botha, who born in 1675 and settled in England, he changed his name from Botha to Booth. His grandson, John Booth, Jr., (1723-1787), was a silversmith established in London, England. He married Elizabeth Wilkes (1720-1801); John's sons John and Philip founded a London distillery in 1740 and began selling Booth's dry gin, eventually becoming the largest gin distillery in the UK; while his son Richard (John Wilkes Booth's grandfather) was an attorney. Richard's son, Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1852), was a well-known Shakespearean actor in England and America.

In his 1865 biography of John Wilkes Booth, George Alfred Townsend writes of Junius Brutus Booth: "The elder Booth in every land was a sojourner, as all his fathers were of Hebrew descent, and by a line of actors, he united in himself that.strong Jewish physiognomy which, in its nobler phases, makes all that is dark and beautiful, and the combined vagrancy of all men of genius and all men of the stage. Fitful, powerful,- passionate, his life was a succession of vices and triumphs." Following Lincoln's assassination, Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland, eventually making his way to a farm in rural northern Virginia 12 days later, where he was tracked down. Booth's companion gave himself up, but Booth refused and was shot by a Union soldier after the barn in which he was hiding was set ablaze. Eight other conspirators or suspects were tried and convicted, and four were hanged shortly thereafter.

In 1844 Henry Lehman, a 23-year-old son of a Jewish cattle trader from Rimpar, Bavaria, arrived in the United States. Settling in Montgomery, Alabama, he opened a dry-goods store under the name of "H. Lehman". He was soon joined by his younger brothers Emanuel in 1847, and Mayer Lehman, in 1850, at which time his business became known as "Lehman Brothers." Although Henry died from yellow fever in 1858, his brothers Emanuel and Mayer Lehman continued operating the family business he had founded and soon grew wealthy as middlemen in the cotton trade, routinely accepting  raw cotton from customers as payment for merchandise which they warehoused and then sold to other brokers or banks in New York and Liverpool, England.Within a few years this business grew to become the most significant part of their operation and by By 1860 their holdings included seven slaves. Emanuel Lehman moved to New York and opened a branch office in Manhattan at 119 Liberty Street, where in 1862, the firm teamed up with a cotton merchant named John Durr to form Lehman, Durr & Co. Following the Civil War,  the company helped finance Alabama's reconstruction. The firm's headquarters were eventually moved to New York City, where it helped found the New York Cotton Exchange in 1870; Emanuel sat on the Board of Governors until 1884. The firm also dealt in the emerging market for railroad bonds and entered the financial-advisory business.

<p></p> <p>Lehman Brothers</p>

Among the founders of Richmond, Virginia's Jewish community were men such as Israel and Jacob I. Cohen, Samuel Myers, Jacob Modecai, Solomon Jacobs, Joseph Marx, Zalma Rehine and Baruch and Manuel Judah, all slave holders. Following the Revolutionary War, Richmond was a town of some 2000 people, half of whom were slaves. By 1788, 17% of the White population were Jews and all but one of the Jewish householders held at least one slave as a domestic servant, with one Jewish family owning three.According to Jewish historian, Jacob Rader Marcus,by 1820 "over 75 percent of all Jewish families in Charleston, Richmond, and Savannah owned slaves, employed as domestic servants; almost 40 percent of all Jewish households in the United States owned one slave or more" (United States Jewry, 1776-1985, pg. 585).

<p>David Moses &amp; Sons, a 19th century Jewish-owned dry-goods store</p>

Writing in the journal of his travels throughout the South in the mid 19th century, author Fredrick Law Olmsted noted: "There is a considerable population of foreign origin, generally of the least valuable class; very dirty German Jews, especially, abound, and their characteristic shops (with their characteristic smells, quite as bad as in Cologne) are thickly set in the narrowest and meanest streets, which seem otherwise to be mainly inhabited by negroes......A swarm of Jews has, within the last ten years, settled in every Southern town, many of them men of no character, opening cheap clothing and trinket shops, ruining or driving out of business many of the old retailers, and engaging in an unlawful trade with the simple Negroes, which is found very profitable." Similarly, Mark Twain commented: "In the U. S. cotton states, after the war, the Jew came down in force, set up shop on the plantation, supplied all the negroes' wants on credit, and at the end of the season was the proprietor of the negro's share of the present crop and part of the next one. Before long the whites detested the Jew."

Civil War Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on arriving in the South was astonished by the number of Jewish carpetbaggers and scalawags that he encountered operating in the Confederate states, saying: "I found so many Jews & speculators here trading in cotton and secessionists had become open in refusing anything but gold that I have found myself bound to stop it."General Ulysses Grant wrote to the Assistant Adjutant General of the US Army on December 17, 1862, : "I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the specie regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by the Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officer at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department. But they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel anywhere. They will land at any woodyard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves, they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at a military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy at an agreed rate, paying gold."

<p>Jewish carpetbagger</p>
<p>Initiation ceremony into the Ku Klux Klan</p>

Late in the year of 1865, just a few short months after the battered and exhausted Confederate military had surrendered, bringing the American Civil War to a close, a group of six white Southern war veterans met on Christmas Eve in the law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones of Pulaski, Tennessee. Vowing to rid the South of the predominately Jewish carpetbaggers and scalawags who descended on the former Confederate states like a plague of locusts intent on profiteering by exploiting Southerners, both black and white. Those six veterans were soon joined by hundreds of others the following year as members of a secret vigilante organization named the Ku Klux Klan, whose goal was to end Reconstruction and restore White Southern rule and order by regaining political control of the South. By 1869, Nathan Bedford Forest, the appointed leader of the Ku Klux Klan, resigned his leadership and called for the organization to be disbanded, saying that the Klan was "being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace".

Half a century after the original Ku Klux Klan was inaugurated, William Joseph Simmons, a former Methodist clergyman from Harpersville, Alabama, successfully launched a new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan secret society in 1915, promoting it as a patriotic, pro-American, Protestant Christian fraternal organization.

Following his dismissal by the Methodist Episcopal Church for his "ineffective ministry", William J. Simmons made his living by selling memberships in fraternal societies such as the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, the Free Masons, etc. In 1915, while recovering from having been struck by an automobile walking door to door selling memberships in fraternal orders, Simmons had read Thomas Dixon's 1905 best-selling historical romance novel The Clansman which was based on the Civil War and the events that led to the founding of the original Ku Klux Klan.

<p>William Joseph Simmons</p>

Dixon's novel was such a sensation that D.W. Griffith, an early motion picture producer and director, decided to make a movie based on The Clansman which was eventually renamed The Birth of a Nation, set to debut in Atlanta, Georgia, on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Griffith's movie hit the theaters at a time when many white Southerners were beginning to feel a deep resentment toward the Jewish community in America, which was growing increasingly progressive in their views regarding African Americans who were being manipulated to desegregate American society by wealthy Jewish business owners such as Julius Rosenwald, who in 1908 became the president and CEO of Sears Roebuck Co., and used his millions to build schools for blacks throughout the South.

<p>Jewish convicted child-rapist and murderer, Leo Frank (left), and his 14 year old victim, Mary Phagan (right).</p>

Southern antisemitism reached a fevered pitch in 1915 due to outrage over the commuted death sentence of convicted murderer, Leo Frank, a young Jewish businessman who raped and murdered a 14 year old girl named Mary Phagan, who worked as a child-laborer in the Atlanta pencil factory where Frank was employed as an executive. Frank had tried to frame a black man, James Conley, who worked in the factory as a janitor with the girl's murder, but the jury which indicted Frank did not buy his story. The public outcry over Leo Frank's death sentence having been commuted by an outgoing judge (who everyone suspected of having been paid-off by the newly formed Jewis Anti Defamation League which was originally organized to raise funds for Leo Frank's defense) led to the formation of a vigilante committee composed of a number of gentile businessmen in Atlanta, who called themselves the "Knights of Mary Phagan" and formed a lynch mob which drove to the Millidgeville, Georgia, jail where Leo Frank had been taken, which forcibly dragged Frank out of his cell and hung him in the name of justice.

<p></p> <p>Movie poster advertising D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation</p>

These events coincided with the release of D.W. Griffith's new motion picture, and William Joseph Simmons decided the time was right to found a new fraternal society that he would lead, which he decided to model after the Ku Klux Klan of the late 1860's, as it was being portrayed in D.W. Griffith's new film. Simmons hired Atlanta publicity agents, Elizabeth Tyler, and Edward Young Clarke to promote his new Ku Klux Klan fraternal order, allowing them a 1/3 cut of the initiation fees for new members. An advertisement was placed in the Atlanta newspaper calling for prospective members to join, printed alongside the announcement for the premier of D.W. Griffith's film.

The Birth of a Nation proved to be a box-office sensation, and by timing the founding of his new Ku Klux Klan fraternal society to coincide with the release of Griffith's film; Simmons capitalized on the opportunity to attract charter members to his new organization, and rode the wave of popularity of the movie, welcoming an audience who were eager to become Ku Klux Klan members just as they had seen portrayed in the theater.

By 1920 membership in Simmon's Klan grew to number in the thousands, however he was eventually overthrown as leader of the KKK after Jewish-controlled newspapers launched a smear campaign against the Klan in an attempt to crush it following the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank. The fact that many of those who formed the lynch mod which hung Leo Frank were among the charter members of Simmons' new Klan fraternal order led to Simmons being brought before Congress who eventually exonerated the Klan after determining that it was a patriotic American institution

William Joseph Simmons was eventually ousted as the national leader of the Ku Klx Klan by another Alabama native, Hiram Wesley Evans, who joined the Klan in 1920 and took over as Imperial Wizard of the KKK in 1922 in a coup organized by the Klan's hired publicity agents, Elizabeth Tyler, and Edward Young Clarke, along with D. C. Stephenson, an Indiana politician and major Klan figure. They deceived Simmons into agreeing to a reorganization of the Klan that removed his practical control; Simmons said that they had claimed that if he remained the Imperial Wizard of the Klan, discord would hamper the organization. Evans gained power and was formally ensconced as Imperial Wizard of the Klan at a November 1922 "Klovokation" in Atlanta, Georgia. Although a legal battle between Evans and Simmons ensued, during which time Simmons was titular "emperor", Evans retained control. He initially said that he had been unaware of a pending coup until after his selection. However, by the end of their feud, he described Simmons as the "leader of Bolshevik Klansmen betraying the movement" and later expelled the former leader. In 1923, Evans presided over the largest Klan gathering in history, attended by over 200,000, and endorsed several successful candidates in 1924 elections. He moved the Klan's headquarters from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., and organized a march of 30,000 members, the largest march in the organization's history, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

<p>Klan parade in Washington, D.C., in 1925</p>

Under Evans' leadership, the Klan became active in Indiana and Illinois, rather than focusing on the Southeastern U.S. as it had done in the past. It also grew in Michigan, where 40,000 members (more than half its total) lived in Detroit. It became characterized as an organization prominent in urban areas of the Midwest, where it attracted U.S.-born citizens competing for industrial jobs with recent immigrants. It also attracted members in Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. In spite of Evans' efforts, the Klan was buffeted by damaging publicity in the early 1920s, due in part to internal leadership struggles which hindered Evans' political efforts. The Great Depression of the 1930's significantly decreased the Klan's income, prompting Evans to work for a construction company to supplement his pay. He resign in 1939, after his renouncement of anti-Catholicism proved to be so unpopular with "rank-and-file Klansmen", that he was effectively forced to step down as the Klan's national leader. He was succeeded by his chief of staff, James A. Colescott, who ran the organization until 1944 when he was ultimately coerced into disbanding the Ku Klux Klan by the Internal Revenue Services who, under pressure from Jewish politicians, had filed a $685,305 lien against the Klan for unpaid taxes, penalties and interest dating back to the 1920's on initiation fees and dues received from its members.

<p>The Klan marches in front of Goldwater's, a Jewish-owned store in Prescott, Arizona, in 1928</p>

During the 1950s and 1960s as Jews sought to further agitate blacks pushing them toward dissent in their efforts to promote multiculturalism and integration, a number of splinter groups around the country sought to revive the Klan as a measure of resistance against the progressive policies that they saw as being damaging to American society. These revivalist Klan groups were quickly infiltrated by Jews with the intend of leading them in directions that would damage their reputation and cause them to be looked upon unfavorably, especially through the biased lens of the Jewish-dominated media. Most notable among these Jewish Klan infiltrators was Daniel Burros, who came to an untimely death that as officially ruled a suicide, once the fact of his Jewish background was discovered.

Originally appeared at: We Thought They Were White