Smith, Gerald L. K. (Gerald Lyman Kenneth), 1898-

Hide Profile

Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was born February 27, 1898 in Pardeeville, Wisconsin. Called to the ministry like his father, Lyman Z. Smith, and other members of his family before him, Smith attended Valparaiso University and Butler University in Indiana, and was then ordained a minister of the Disciples of Christ. In 1922, Smith married Elna Marion Sorenson, who came to be an active and important co-worker in the causes of her husband.

During his early ministry, Smith held pastorates in Indianapolis, Indiana and in Shreveport, Louisiana. While in Louisiana, Smith became a close friend and supporter of Governor and later U.S. Senator, Huey Long. A noted orator, Smith soon became a major spokesman for Long's "Share the Wealth" Program, and was called upon to conduct the funeral service for Long following his assassination in 1935. During the 1936 election campaign, Smith was associated with Father Coughlin and Francis Townsend in the work of the Union Party.

Even before election day, Smith had started to organize the Committee of 1,000,000, though it was not formally launched until March 1937. Formed as a nationalist front against the spread of communism, the Committee was isolationist, anti-union, and bitterly critical of the Roosevelt New Deal. In these years before World War II, Smith was searching for a base. He traveled about the country speaking whenever he could, and refining his image as a self-proclaimed crusader against communism and the C.I.O. In 1939, he began a series of broadcasts over WJR in Detroit, a powerful Midwestern station. Because of the receptiveness of this audience, some of whom were his larger financial backers, Smith decided to locate permanently in Detroit, moving there sometime that same year.

Smith worked with the Committee of 1,000,000 into the early 1940's. In April 1942, he published the first issue of the Cross and the Flag which came to be the principal means by which he spread his ideological message. Also in 1942, Smith ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for the United States Senate from Michigan. Undaunted by the returns, he ran as an independent in the fall election, but was again badly defeated.

In January 1943, Smith established the America First Party with the avowed purpose to provide an outlet for voters who might be dissatisfied with the candidates selected by the major parties in the 1944 national election. As Smith explained it, he hoped that his party would never have to go on the ballot, but since the Democrats and Republicans had already betrayed him and his followers in 1940 when they nominated "internationalists," he did not want them to be without recourse again. Smith did what he could to influence the choices of the major party conventions in 1944, but he was dissatisfied with Dewey and unalterably opposed to Roosevelt, so he felt compelled to run for president himself on the America First ticket.

After the war, about 1946, Smith formed the Christian Nationalist Crusade, a federation of over 60 right wing organizations, all with the purpose of fighting communism and upholding the ideals of "Christian Americanism." Smith was made national director of the CNC which was then headquartered in Detroit. In 1947, he moved his base of operation from Detroit to St. Louis. He himself then decided to live in Tulsa.

The Christian Nationalist Crusade, like most of Smith's other ideas, was based upon fear of a changing world and hatred of the supposed enemies of American and Christianity. Under the auspices of the CNC, Smith championed a variety of conservative and anti-communist causes. The CNC sponsored numerous meetings, distributed literature, organized petition campaigns, and lent their organizational skills to political candidates whose positions most resembled their own views. In 1952, Smith actively supported the candidacy of Douglas MacArthur for president. In the 1960's, he became a supporter of George Wallace.

Despite its St. Louis base, some of the most important activities and conventions of the CNC were centered in California, where Smith found some of his most influential backers. Thus, in 1953, Smith moved to Los Angeles, California. He and the CNC stayed there nearly twenty years, then moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Smith devoted the final years of his life to a number of religiously-oriented projects. One was the management of a full-scale Passion Play presented each year in Eureka Springs. Another was the completion of a towering Christ of the Ozarks statue for which Smith had helped to raise the money. Other plans for Eureka Springs stalled with his death on April 15, 1976.

From the guide to the Gerald L. K. Smith Papers, 1922-1976, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Dept. of Journalism (University of Michigan) research papers, 1967-1978 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Gerald L. K. Smith Papers, 1922-1976 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Prentiss Marsh Brown Papers, 1902-1973 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Party records., 1914-1980. Minnesota Historical Society.
referencedIn Carlton F. Wells papers, 1910-1994 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Council records., 1922-1974 (bulk 1945-1970). Minnesota Historical Society.
referencedIn Arthur W. Stace papers, 1927-1950 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Marilyn R. person
associatedWith Allstorm, Oliver. person
associatedWith America First Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Armstrong, George Washington, 1866- person
associatedWith Asher, Court. person
associatedWith Bealle, Morris A. (Morris Allison), 1891- person
associatedWith Beaty, John Owen, 1890- person
associatedWith Blake, Aldrich. person
associatedWith Bricker, John W. (John William), 1893-1986 person
associatedWith Britton, Frank. person
associatedWith Brown, Catherine. person
associatedWith Brown, Prentiss Marsh, 1889-1973 person
associatedWith Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925- person
associatedWith Burke, Emory. person
associatedWith Carlson, John Roy. person
associatedWith Christian Nationalist Crusade. corporateBody
associatedWith Christian Veterans of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Clark, Max A. X. person
associatedWith Close, Upton, 1894- person
associatedWith Comparet, Bertrand. person
associatedWith Doman, Bernard A. person
associatedWith Essig, Edith. person
associatedWith Fagan, Myron C. (Myron Coureval), b. 1887 person
associatedWith Fields, Edward R. person
associatedWith Fish, Hamilton, 1888- person
associatedWith Goff, Kenneth. person
associatedWith Gostick, Ron. person
associatedWith Green, G. F. person
associatedWith Hamilton, John W. person
associatedWith Hart, Merwin Kimball, 1881-1962 person
associatedWith Haushalter, Walter. person
associatedWith Hoffman, Clare Eugene, 1875-1967 person
associatedWith Hudson, Charles B. person
associatedWith Jaques, Norman. person
associatedWith Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota. corporateBody
associatedWith Kister, Frederick. person
associatedWith Liebold, Ernest G., 1884- person
associatedWith Lohbeck, Donald, 1917- person
associatedWith Long, Earl Kemp, 1895-1960 person
associatedWith Loomis, Homer. person
associatedWith MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964 person
associatedWith MacFarland, W. Henry. person
associatedWith Maier, Walter Arthur, 1893-1950 person
associatedWith Marion, Leland L., 1895- person
associatedWith McAllister, Andrew B. person
associatedWith McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957 person
associatedWith McClanahan, Meade. person
associatedWith McGinley, Conde, d. 1963 person
associatedWith Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Moseley, George Van Horn, 1874-1960 person
associatedWith Mote, Carl Henry, 1884-1946 person
associatedWith Mullins, Eustace Clarence, 1923- person
associatedWith Murray, William Henry, 1869-1956 person
associatedWith Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 1918-1970 person
associatedWith National Blue Star Mothers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Norris, J. Frank (John Frank), 1877-1952 person
associatedWith Nye, Gerald Prentice, 1892-1971 person
associatedWith Pegler, Westbrook, 1894-1969 person
associatedWith Pelley, William Dudley, 1890- person
associatedWith Perkins, Jonathon Ellsworth. person
associatedWith Reilly, Lawrence. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Robert Rice, 1884-1963 person
associatedWith Robertson, Charles. person
associatedWith Rockwell, George Lincoln, 1918-1967 person
associatedWith Romer, Harry, 1895-1953 person
associatedWith Schickedanz, Forrest. person
associatedWith Shuler, Robert Pierce, 1880-1966 person
associatedWith Smith, Elna M. person
associatedWith Smith, L. Z. person
associatedWith Socialist Workers Party. Minnesota Section. corporateBody
associatedWith Sokolsky, George Ephraim, 1893-1962 person
associatedWith Southard, Earl. person
associatedWith Springer, Harvey H., 1907- person
associatedWith Stace, Arthur W. (Arthur William), 1875-1950 person
associatedWith Stadsklev, C. O. person
associatedWith Stanley, David, Mrs. person
associatedWith St. -George, Maximilian, b. 1885 person
associatedWith Stoffel, Joseph H. person
associatedWith Stokes, Elizabeth Dilling, 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Swift, Wesley. person
associatedWith Tenney, Jack B. person
associatedWith Terminiello, Arthur W. person
associatedWith United Farmers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army Air Corps. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Journalism. corporateBody
associatedWith Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951 person
associatedWith Vose, George. person
associatedWith Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919- person
associatedWith Waybright, Edgar. person
associatedWith Welch, Robert. person
associatedWith Wells, Carlton F. (Carlton Frank), 1898- person
associatedWith Wheeler, Burton K. (Burton Kendall), 1882-1975 person
associatedWith White, Opal Tanner. person
associatedWith Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972 person
associatedWith Winegarner, Charles W. person
associatedWith Winrod, Gerald B. (Gerald Burton) person
associatedWith Woodruff, Roy Orchard, 1876-1953 person
associatedWith Worrell, Margaret H. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Eureka Springs (Ark.)


Birth 1898

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w6rw5dmj

SNAC ID: 23462981