Benjamin Meek Miller
Wilcox Progressive Era (Camden, AL), May 6, 1920
|39th Governor of Alabama|
January 19, 1931 –January 14, 1935
|Lieutenant||Hugh D. Merrill|
|Preceded by||Bibb Graves|
|Succeeded by||Bibb Graves|
|Member of the Alabama House of Representatives|
|Born||March 13, 1864|
Oak Hill, Alabama
|Died||February 6, 1944 79) (aged|
|Resting place||Camden Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Otis Duggan Miller|
|Alma mater||University of Alabama|
Benjamin Meek Miller (March 13, 1864 – February 6, 1944) was an American Democratic politician who served as the 39th Governor of Alabama from 1931 to 1935. The Scottsboro Boys affair notably took place during his gubernatorial tenure.
Miller was born in Oak Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama, on March 13, 1864, to Rev. John Miller, D.D., and Sarah Pressly Miller. His father was pastor of the Bethel Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at Oak Hill for 31 years. His mother was a descendant of the Hearst family of Abbeville County, South Carolina. He received his early education in Oak Hill and Camden, Alabama. He entered Erskine College from which he graduated in 1884. While a student at Erskine, he was a member of the Euphemian Literary Society. Upon his graduation from Erskine, he returned to Wilcox County where he served as principal of the Lower Peach Tree Academy until 1887. He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1889. After graduating from law school, he established a practice of law in Camden. On September 21, 1892, he married Margaret Otis Duggan of Mobile, Alabama. In 1890, he was a founding member of the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Miller represented Wilcox County in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1888 to 1889. He was elected judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Alabama in 1904 and served in that capacity until 1921. Miller was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama from 1921 to 1927. He sought reelection to the Supreme Court of Alabama in 1926, but was defeated by a candidate supported by the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1930, Miller sought the governorship of Alabama. The Democratic primary pitted Miller against W.C. Davis (his strongest opponent), Woolsey Finnell, Watt T. Brown, J.A. Carney and Charles C. McCall. During the campaign Miller attacked the reforms of the Bibb Graves administration and the political power of the Ku Klux Klan. Miller's election as governor was therefore a blow to the Klan.
When Miller was inaugurated as governor on January 19, 1931, the State of Alabama was $20,000,000.00 in debt. Miller considered the reduction of the State's debt the primary objective of his administration. After twice calling the Alabama Legislature into special session, Miller was able to secure an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama permitting the collection of state income tax. A state inheritance tax was passed along with budget control act which prohibited the State of Alabama from spending beyond incoming revenues. The salaries of state employees were also drastically reduced. Miller did not consider the income tax or budget control act his greatest achievement; instead he considered the state bank holiday he declared in March 1933, eight days before Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a national bank holiday his greatest achievement.
In 1932, Miller commissioned Brookings Institution to conduct a study of Alabama's state and local governments in order to achieve a more efficient government. Most of the study's findings, however, were not adopted by the Alabama Legislature. During Miller's administration, the miles of paved roads in Alabama doubled, and all highway work was paid in cash.
Miller was known for his frugality, and he shocked many in Montgomery when brought his personal milk cow from Camden to the Governor's Mansion.
After leaving the governor's office in 1935, Miller returned to Camden where he resumed the practice of law. He died at his daughter's residence in Selma, Alabama, on February 6, 1944, and is buried in the Camden Cemetery, in Camden, Alabama. Margaret Duggan Miller preceded her husband in death on February 16, 1934, and is also buried in the Camden Cemetery.
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly shortened to the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist terrorist hate group whose primary targets are African Americans as well as Jews, immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Catholics, and Muslims. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and – especially in later iterations – Nordicism, antisemitism, anti-Catholicism, prohibition, right-wing populism, anti-communism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-atheism. Historically, the first Klan used terrorism – both physical assault and murder – against politically active blacks and their allies in the Southern United States in the late 1860s. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered "right-wing extremist" organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, it is known for its legal cases against white supremacist groups, its classification of hate groups and other extremist organizations, and for promoting tolerance education programs. The SPLC was founded by Morris Dees, Joseph J. Levin Jr., and Julian Bond in 1971 as a civil rights law firm in Montgomery, Alabama. Bond served as president of the board between 1971 and 1979.
Amos Tappan Akerman was an American politician who served as United States Attorney General under President Ulysses S. Grant from 1870 to 1871. A native of New Hampshire, Akerman graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842 and moved South, where he had most of his career. He first worked as headmaster of a school in North Carolina and as a tutor in Georgia. Having become interested in law, Akerman studied and passed the bar in Georgia in 1850; where he and an associate set up a law practice. He also owned a farm and eleven slaves. When the Civil War started in 1861, Akerman joined the Confederate Army, where he achieved the rank of colonel.
David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson was an American convicted rapist and murderer who in 1923 was appointed Grand Dragon of the branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana and head of Klan recruiting for seven other states. Later that year, he led those groups to independence from the national KKK organization. Amassing wealth and political power in Indiana politics, he was one of the most prominent national Klan leaders. "He was viewed as responsible for reviving the Klan and widening its base, and considered the most powerful man in Indiana". He had close relationships with numerous Indiana politicians, especially Governor Edward L. Jackson.
Homer Martin Adkins was a pharmacist, businessman, and Democratic politician who served as the 32nd governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas. Adkins is remembered as a skilled retail politician and a strong states' rights proponent and social conservative who served as governor during a period when Arkansas departed from several national economic and societal trends. The Adkins administration fought federal influence in Arkansas during the post-New Deal era; successfully courting federal wartime production investment during World War II while battling the federal resettlement of Japanese-Americans in the state and Supreme Court civil rights decisions.
Thomas Jefferson Terral was the 27th Governor of Arkansas.
Edmund Winston Pettus was an American lawyer and politician who represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1897 to 1907. He served as a senior officer of the Confederate States Army, commanding infantry in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. After the war, he was politically active in the Ku Klux Klan, serving as a Grand Dragon.
Oscar Wilder Underwood was an American lawyer and politician from Alabama, and also a candidate for President of the United States in 1912 and 1924. He was the first formally designated floor leader in the United States Senate, and the only individual to serve as the Democratic leader in both the Senate and the United States House of Representatives.
David Bibb Graves was an American Democratic politician and the 38th Governor of Alabama 1927–1931 and 1935–1939, the first Alabama governor to serve two four-year terms.
William Woodward Brandon was an American Democratic politician who was the 37th governor of Alabama from 1923 to 1927.
William Hugh Smith was an American planter and politician, the 21st Governor of the U.S. state of Alabama. He was the first Republican elected as governor in the state, serving from 1868 to 1870 during the period of Reconstruction. A former slave owner, he had opposed secession from the union on the grounds it would imperil slave property. He appeared driven by practical consideration rather than principled opposition to slavery.
Edward L. Jackson was an American attorney, judge and politician, elected the 32nd Governor of the U.S. state of Indiana from January 12, 1925, to January 14, 1929. He had also been elected as Secretary of State of Indiana.
This is a partial list of a few notable historical figures in U.S. national politics who were members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) before taking office. Membership of the Klan is secret. Political opponents sometimes allege that a person was a member of the Klan, or was supported at the polls by Klan members.
Samuel Moffett Ralston was a Democratic politician, the 28th Governor of Indiana and a United States Senator from the U.S. state of Indiana. Born into a large impoverished family, he took many jobs as a child including working in a coal mine. He taught school and studied law, becoming a prominent state lawyer.
Walter Marcus Pierce was an American politician, a Democrat, who served as the 17th Governor of Oregon and a member of the United States House of Representatives from Oregon's 2nd congressional district. A native of Illinois, he served in the Oregon State Senate before the governorship, and again after leaving the U.S. House. Pierce is also famous for the United States Supreme Court case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters on compulsory public education.
Lewis Merrill (1834–1896) was a career officer in the United States Army noted for his work in resisting the early Ku Klux Klan organization in several Southern states. During the American Civil War, he combated guerrillas in Missouri.
The Ku Klux Klan has had a history in the U.S. state of New Jersey since the early part of the 1920s. The Klan was active in the areas of Trenton and Camden and it also had a presence in several of the state's northern counties in the 1920s. It had the most members in Monmouth County, and operated a resort in Wall Township.
The Association of Georgia Klans, also known as the Associated Klans of Georgia was a Klan faction organized by Dr. Samuel Green in 1944, and led by him until his death in 1949. At its height the organization had klaverns in each of Georgia's 159 counties, as well as klaverns in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. It also had connections with klaverns and kleagles in Ohio and Indiana. After Green's death, however, the organization foundered as it split into different factions, was hit with a tax lien and was beset by adverse publicity. It was moribund by the time of the Supreme Court's "Black Monday" ruling in 1954. A second Association of Georgia Klans was formed when Charles Maddox led dissatisfied members out of the U.S. Klans in 1960. This group appears to have folded into James Venable's National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan by 1965. There is also a current Klan group by that name.
Howard Goodloe Sutton is an American newspaper editor, publisher, and owner. From 1964 to 2019, he published The Democrat-Reporter, a small weekly newspaper in Linden, Alabama. Sutton was widely celebrated in 1998 for publishing over four years a series of articles that exposed corruption in the Marengo County Sheriff's Office; he received awards and commendations and was suggested as a candidate for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2019, Sutton once again became the focus of national attention when he wrote and published an editorial suggesting the Ku Klux Klan be revived to "clean out" Washington, D.C. He already had a local reputation for other, similarly inflammatory racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and homophobic editorials.
The Ku Klux Klan arrived in Oregon in the early 1920s during the second Klan, and quickly spread throughout the state, aided by a mostly white, Protestant population as well as racist and anti-immigrant sentiments already embedded in the region. The Klan succeeded in electing their members in local and state government, which allowed them to pass legislation that furthered their agenda. Ultimately, the decline of the Klan in Oregon came with its struggle in other states as well as nationally, and activity faded in the 1930s.
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama |
| Governor of Alabama |