The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 155
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most powerful hatemongers of the twentieth century," to mention a
few. Reverend Smith deserves such characterizations, but as Glen Jean-
sonne's perceptive biography points out, he was also a tormented man
of considerable talents, who was ruled by impulses that he apparently
could not control.
Born in Wisconsin to a poor, Christian fundamentalist family, Smith
was always energetic, talkative, and avid for attention. Beneath his
photo in a high school yearbook is the caption, "He possesses a super-
abundance of wind ..." (p. 17). Smith worked his way through Val-
paraiso University in Indiana, and became active in the local Christian
Church. After graduation, he became a full-time preacher in that de-
nomination. Honing his oratorical skills, Smith moved from one small
congregation to another in the rural Midwest. Soon larger churches
called, and in 1929 Reverend Smith took charge of the Kings Highway
Christian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana-the largest and most af-
fluent congregation of that faith in the state. His powerful, emotion-
laden voice had a mesmerizing effect upon many listeners, but it was in
Shreveport that signs of a personality disorder began to appear. The
city coroner later recalled that Smith liked to accompany him on his
rounds and was fascinated with the coroner's examination of a young
woman who had been murdered. Later, Smith joined the pro-Nazi
Silver Shirt movement. He also wrote a letter, in 1933, to a man who
personally knew members of the Nazi hierarchy in Germany, saying "I
am anxious to get in touch with his Honor, Adolf Hitler ..." (p. 30).
Smith's eccentricities, plus his budding friendship with the dema-
gogic political boss of Louisiana, "The Kingfish" Huey Long, alienated
influential members of the Shreveport congregation. He resigned the
pastorate so as to avoid dismissal and early in 1934 became the national
organizer for Long's Share Our Wealth Society. Although Smith's ca-
reer is usualy identified with the far right, at this time he embraced the
Kingfish's plan to confiscate and redistribute the wealth of America's
multimillionaires. But Smith's economic ideas were subordinated to his
craving for attention and power; he was fascinated by strong leaders
and wanted to attach himself to some forceful politician so as to share
his influence. Failing to meet Hitler, he settled for Huey Long. Smith
now fancied himself, in Jeansonne's words, "the third most powerful
person in the nation, just behind [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and Long"
After Long's assassination in 1935, which Smith believed was master-
minded by President Roosevelt, the ex-reverend dived into minor
party politics and anticommunist movements such as America First.
Several times he ran for office, always unsuccessfully. From 1942 until
his death he published The Cross and the Flag, a bombastic quasi-religious
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/179/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.