Edward L. Jackson
Former attorney and judge Edward L. Jackson was the Governor of the State of Indiana for a single term, 1925 – 1929. He had previously served as Secretary of State. Throughout his political career, he was an active member of the KKK and was supportive of Klan goals and policies in the performance of his political offices. While serving as governor he was charged with having attempted to bribe his predecessor, but was acquitted of all charges on a legal technicality.
Jackson had recently opened a law practice in Lafayette Indiana following a stint in the Army during World War I, which he managed to spend entirely in the nearby areas of Toledo Ohio and Battle Creek Michigan. Approached by then Governor of Indiana James Goodrich to finish the term of the recently deceased Secretary of State, Jackson accepted. Later he ran for the office on his own, and having caught the political bug he decided he needed a higher office and the political backing to acquire one. The Grand Dragon for Indiana, D.C. Stephenson, was desirous of removing Roman Catholic political power and influence within the Hoosier state and found Jackson to be his man.
Jackson’s relationship with the Klan was soon problematic for him, and whether he became an active member remains in dispute. Jackson certainly could be found in the company of Klansmen, and he actively supported Klan approved agenda in the state capital. While still Secretary of State Jackson attempted to bribe the governor to appoint Klan members to various non-elected but influential positions in the state government. The amount of the bribe was $23,000, the source of the money was the state Klan organization, and the governor was a multimillionaire who rejected both because the action or the amount – historians aren’t sure which – offended his sensibilities.
Jackson would have other difficulties with the Klan while serving his own term as governor, which would lead to Klan members leaking the details of his associations – and the attempted bribe – to the press. The statute of limitations had run out, preventing Jackson from conviction, and he served out his term as governor as a shamed lame duck, eventually retiring to an apple farm. The Klan gradually faded from influence in Indiana politics.