Gerald L. K. Smith

Gerald L. K. Smith

Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith (February 27, 1898–April 15, 1976) was a leader of the Share Our Wealth movement and founder of the America First Party (1944). [ [ Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith (1898–1976) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas ] ]

Smith was born in Pardeeville, Wisconsin. He grew up in Viroqua, Wisconsin. He was ordained as a minister in the Disciples of Christ denomination of Christianity in 1916. Smith moved to Louisiana in 1928, since his wife contracted tuberculosis and Shreveport had a good reputation for helping people with tuberculosis. Smith served as a minister in Shreveport, making radio broadcasts attacking local utility companies and corruption while supporting trade unions.

Smith became a friend of Huey Long in 1932. They launched the Share Our Wealth society soon afterwards. This movement proposed minimum and maximum limits on household wealth and income. Smith resigned his ministry and worked recruiting members to the society.

After Long was assassinated in 1935, Smith took over the society for a short time. Smith entered into an alliance with Francis Townsend, Father Charles Coughlin and Huey Long followers to form the Union Party. The party nominated William Lemke as their Presidential candidate in the 1936 election.

A change

Unlike Long, who was generally favorable to racial tolerance, Smith soon took the Share Our Wealth movement in the direction of white supremacy. Smith became associated with the non-interventionist America First Committee. After this group dissolved in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Smith formed the America First Party. Smith ran for the United States Senate in Michigan as a Republican but he lost in the primary with 130,000 votes. Smith ran as the candidate of the party in the 1944 Presidential election, winning 1,781 votes (1530 in Michigan, 281 in Texas). In 1948 with running mate Harry Romer on the Christian Nationalist Party ticket he received 48 votes. [] Smith's only other run for the Presidency was in 1956 where he received 8 write-in votes in California.

Smith was one of 30 co-defendants in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944. The case against all the defendants was dismissed when a mistrial was declared, following the death of the presiding judge.

Smith went on to suggest that the Holocaust never happened and that various politicians had links to a 'Jewish Conspiracy'. Smith was shunned by most politicians, even hard-right figures such as Strom Thurmond, who distanced the States' Rights Democratic Party from Smith. An article in the "ADL Bulletin" entitled "The Plot Against Ann Rosenburg" attributed the attacks on Rosenberg's loyalty to 'professional anti-Semites and lunatic nationalists,' including the 'Jew-baiting cabal of John Rankin, Benjamin Freedman and Gerald Smith.' ("Jews Against Prejudice", p 120) In 1956, Smith joined a vociferous campaign against the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act, the opponents of which claimed that it was a communist or Jewish plot to establish concentration camps in Alaska.

Smith eventually moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In 1964, he began construction of a planned religious theme park. The park was never fully developed as originally planned. However, in 1966 the centerpiece of his plan, the Christ of the Ozarks statue, was completed, overlooking the town on Magnetic Mountain at an elevation of 1500 feet. The sculptor, Emmet Sullivan, had worked under Gutzon Borglum as one of the sculptors of Mount Rushmore. Smith also had plans for a life-size recreation of ancient Jerusalem in the hills near Eureka Springs. While this was never fully realized, each year an outdoor passion play inspired by that of Oberammergau, Germany is staged on a set over one-tenth of a mile long located not far from the statue. Smith died in 1976 due to pneumonia. Smith and his wife are buried adjacent to the Christ of the Ozarks Statue. A loud speaker plays hymns over the graves continuously. []



* "Gerald L.K. Smith- Minister of Hate", Glen Jeansonne, 1988, Yale University Press.

External links

* [ Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith] article at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture
* [ A 57 page dossier on Smith by the American Jewish Committee, written in 1953]

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