Hiram Wesley Evans (September 26th, 1881 - September 14th, 1966) was the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, an American white supremacist group, from 1922 to 1939. A native of Alabama, Evans attended Vanderbilt University and became a dentist. He operated a small, moderately successful practice in Texas until 1920, when he joined the Klan's Dallas chapter. He quickly rose through the ranks and was part of a group that ousted William Joseph Simmons from the position of Imperial Wizard, the national leader, in November 1922. Evans succeeded him and sought to transform the group into a political juggernaut.
Although Evans had kidnapped and tortured a black man while leader of the Dallas Klan, as Imperial Wizard he publicly discouraged vigilante actions, fearing that they would hinder his attempts to gain political influence. In 1923, Evans presided over the largest Klan gathering in history, attended by over 200,000, and endorsed several successful candidates in 1924 elections. He moved the Klan's headquarters from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., and organized a march of 30,000 members—the largest march in the organization's history—on Pennsylvania Avenue. Evans' efforts notwithstanding, the Klan was buffeted by damaging publicity in the early 1920s, partially because of leadership struggles between Evans and his rivals, which hindered his political efforts. In the 1930s, the Great Depression significantly decreased the Klan's income, prompting Evans to work for a construction company to supplement his pay. He resigned his position with the Klan in 1939, after disavowing anti-Catholicism. He was succeeded by his chief of staff, James A. Colescott. The next year, Evans faced accusations of involvement in a government corruption scandal in Georgia; he was fined $15,000 after legal proceedings.
Evans sought to promote a form of nativist, Protestant nationalism. In addition to his white supremacist ideology, he fiercely condemned Catholicism, unionism, and communism, which were associated with recent immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. He argued that Jews formed a non-American culture and resisted assimilation, although he denied being an anti-Semite. Many of his political and religious views were deeply unpopular among his contemporaries. Historians credit Evans with refocusing the Klan on political activities and recruiting outside the Southern United States; the Klan grew most in the Midwest and industrial cities. However, they note that the political influence and membership gains he sought were transitory. Some commentators argue that Evans was more focused on money and power than any particular ideology.