Originally appearing in Indianapolis in 1921 under the name Fact!, the Ku Klux Klan paper was renamed The Fiery Cross in July 1922 under the editorship of Ernest W. Reichard. Klan leader D. C. Stephenson gained editorial control in 1923.

The words "The Fiery Cross" are superimposed over an image of a mounted Klansman holding aloft a lighted torch. The date is Friday, January 5, 1923.
The Fiery Cross header illustration, 1923 Credit: Hoosier State Chronicles View Source

At the beginning of Reichard’s tenure, the Ku Klux Klan claimed to have 5,000 members in Indianapolis. Initially, The Fiery Cross published relatively innocuous material—meetings, rallies, and other Klan activities—and the paper served as a medium for advertising. Merchants offered discounts to Klan members, and some advertisers put “TWK”—”Trade with the Klan”—signs in their shop windows.

Stephenson’s takeover made the paper more ideological and political. Local Protestant ministers who supported the Klan had their sermons published. The paper reported negatively on Protestant clergy who refused to support the Klan. Names of prominent Catholic business figures were also published in The Fiery Cross, with a strong implication that Klansmen should boycott such firms.

After Stephenson took over circulation rose to some 50,000 copies, primarily in the Midwest. An annual subscription cost five dollars. By March 1923, Stephenson claimed the paper’s circulation numbered over 100,000 readers, and in April The Fiery Cross expanded to a length of 12 pages. 

The paper had three editions, one each for Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Imperial Wizard Hiram Wesley Evans fought Stephenson for control of the paper. Although Stephenson was the victor, The Fiery Cross ceased publication in February 1925, several months before his conviction for second-degree murder in November of that same year.

Revised February 2021

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