Robert E. Lee Klan No. 1
The Robert E. Lee Klan No. 1 was the first Alabama-based chapter of the "second" Ku Klux Klan. It was created by William Simmons in 1916, less than a year after he founded the revived Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia.
In 1921 former Elks Lodge president James Esdale was tapped as "Exalted Cyclops" of the Robert E. Lee Klan No. 1. He was serving in that capacity when fellow Klansman Edwin Stephenson was put on trial for the murder of Father James Coyle, who had presided over the marriage of Stephenson's daughter to a Puerto Rican tradesman, Pedro Gussman. Esdale later described how prosecutor Hugo Black traded signals with a jury packed with Klan members to win Stephenson's acquittal.
Esdale was promoted to "Grand Dragon" over the Klan's "Realm of Alabama" in 1923. That July the Robert E. Lee Klan began issuing a magazine, the T.W.K. Monthly, published by L. E. Lance. On September 11 of that year the group hosted one of the largest public Klan rallies in the nation at Edgewood Park. Another induction ceremony, at East Lake Park on November 20 of the same year, brought 2,100 more recruits into the klavern.