E. (Eddie) L. McDaniel

E. (Eddie) L. McDaniel

E.L. McDaniel was Klan leader from Natchez, Miss., who claimed to be the first Mississippi man inducted into the Louisiana-based Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1962. McDaniel also claimed that he grew interested in the Klan as a child when his grandfather told him that the KKK was a good organization and that McDaniel should join it when he was old enough.

McDaniel was inducted into the Original Knights across the Mississippi River at Minorca, a fishing community on the outskirts of Vidalia, LA. When Klan leaders asked McDaniel to recruit Mississippi men into the Original Knights, he and others quickly opened klaverns throughout the Magnolia State. But when Louisiana Klan leaders J.D. Swenson and Royal Young learned that McDaniel was badmouthing them and attempting to help start a new Klan, he was banished from the Original Knights.

McDaniel then went to work recruiting for the White Knights, but when Sam Bowers took over the leadership position, McDaniel soon began recruiting White Knights into the United Klans of America, headed by Robert Shelton of Alabama. By 1964, McDaniel was Grand Dragon of the Mississippi Realm of the UKA.

But, McDaniel was not well-liked as a leader and soon complaints about him arose. Shelton began meeting with other Klansmen from Mississippi and learned that McDaniel’s handling of finances was questionable. They claimed McDaniel was pocketing the money meant for dues, robes and other Klan expenses. Shelton and McDaniel faced off in Mississippi a brief time later. Shelton then took over leadership of the Mississippi realm of the UKA and McDaniel found himself without a Klan home.

In 1966, out of work and in financial distress, he became an FBI informant. But the FBI could never quite trust him. In late 1966 after he became an informant, he named four suspects in the Frank Morris arson murder in Ferriday in 1964: Tommy Lee Jones, T.L. Torgerson, J. L. Scarborough and E.D. Morace.

But the FBI could not prove McDaniel’s allegations, nor would he agree to testify. He demanded that his identity not be revealed.

Later, in early 1967, after Wharlest Jackson, treasurer of the Natchez NAACP, was killed in Natchez from a bomb planted beneath his pickup, McDaniel told his FBI handler that he had thwarted a plot in early January to kill George Metcalfe, President of the Natchez NAACP. Both Metcalfe and Jackson rode to work together in Jackson’s pickup until the day of the bombing when their shifts changed and Jackson was alone.

McDaniel told his FBI handler that when he heard something was going to happen to Metcalfe, he disguised his voice and called some members of the secret Klan cell known as the Silver Dollar Group. He claimed that he told each person he called that if anything happened to Metcalfe, “We are going to arrest you.” His handler, FBI Agent Benjamin Graves, was furious that McDaniel had not told him about this earlier. McDaniel claimed it slipped his mind.

The McDaniel FBI file chronicles the rise of the UKA with hundreds of interviews of Klansmen and behind-the-scenes actions of the FBI to neutralize violent Klansmen.

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