Arthur Hornbui Bell
Arthur Bell was an attorney and a former vaudeville performer who entertained the troops during World War I as part of a husband and wife act known as Bell and Bell. By 1922 Bell was a practicing attorney in New Jersey and the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan for the Garden State. Bell was notably anti-semitic and was deeply concerned over the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in American life and politics. He called New York Governor Al Smith, a Catholic, “unfit for office” and wrote anti-Catholic and Jewish polemics.
As an attorney of some note and influence, Bell was valued for his writing abilities, and he produced articles and op-eds for publication, as well as writing the introduction for other’s works. Under his own name, he published a book drawing direct comparisons between the Catholic men’s organization the Knights of Columbus and the Ku Klux Klan with the subtitle “America or Rome.” This work argued that Catholics held their first loyalty to the papacy in Rome while the Klan was the true supporter of American values and political beliefs.
Bell was active in converting former US Army property into recreation property for exclusive use of Klan members and their families. Camp Evans, formerly an Army Signal Corps station, became a Klan property for this purpose and served as the headquarters for the New Jersey Ku Klux Klan until 1935, when it was purchased by a Christian fundamentalist group. By the late 1940s, Bell was actively trying to merge the German American Bund – a pre-World War II Nazi sympathizer group which supported the notion of Aryan Supremacy – with the Ku Klux Klan. This led to his dismissal as Grand Dragon and a gradual decline of his influence.
Bell believed and preached that Roman Catholic desire for world power would lead to religious warfare against the persecuted protestants religions, a viewpoint he lightened in his later years when he advocated for the teaching of religious tolerance – although in racially segregated schools.