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In Indiana, the Klan generally did not practice overt violence but used intimidation in certain cases, whereas nationally the organization practiced political acts against minority ethnic and religious groups.
The Indiana Klan rose to prominence beginning in the early 1920s after World War I, when ethnic Protestants felt threatened by social and political issues, including changes caused by decades of heavy immigration from southern and eastern Europe. It averaged 2,000 new members per week from July 1922 to July 1923, when he was appointed as the Grand Dragon of Indiana.
Denied pardon, in 1927 Stephenson began to talk to the Indianapolis Times, giving them lists of people who had been paid by the Klan.
Their press investigation exposed many Klan members, showed they were not law-abiding, and ended the power of the organization, as members dropped out by the tens of thousands.
It was strongly white supremacist not just against African Americans, but also Catholics and Jews, whose faith were commonly associated with Irish, Italian, Balkan, and Slavic immigrants and their descendants.Hiram Wesley Evans, who led recruiting for the national organization, maintained close ties to state leaders throughout 1921–1922 and especially to Stephenson, as Indiana by then had the largest state organization.Stephenson backed Evans in November 1922 when he unseated William J. Evans had ambitions to make the Klan a political force in the country.He gained the support of many ministers and church congregations for these appeals to populist issues, and the Klan grew rapidly in Indiana. He joined the Democratic Party and in 1922, ran unsuccessfully for a Democratic Congressional nomination. Huffington, whom the Ku Klux Klan had sent from Texas as an agent for organizing in Evansville, recruited Stephenson to the group's inner circle.The historian Leonard Moore characterized them as both young men on the make.