May writes: I. Who is the Ku Klux Klan? The Ku Klux Klan is a group of white supremacists, who, throughout US history, have held strong beliefs against specific groups of people. The KKK with which our generation is most familiar is from the 1950's and 1960's. This group's beliefs attacked black Americans in the struggle for civil rights. In the 1920's, however, the Ku Klux Klan held beliefs that were more likely to attack immigrants, Jews, Catholics than African Americans. (The Klan Rides Again) The 1920's KKK attracted its largest membership, though it was not centered in the South. All of the Klan's members were supposed to study and learn the KKK manual written in 1925. The manual states that the Klan's primary purpose was:
"To Unite white male persons, native born, Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person, or people who are of sound minds and eighteen years or more of age, under a common oath" ( The Klan Manual, 1925)
In this manual, the KKK held many beliefs that they still hold today:
a) They have a "task of developing a genuine spirit of American patriotism."
b) Their racial task is "to maintain forever white supremacy" and "to maintain forever the God-given supremacy of the white race." "White men must not mix their blood with that of colored or other inferior races."
c) Their pledge of secrecy is "to keep solemnly secret the symbols of the order" because the "alien world is eager to learn all it can of the organization." "These matters must never be divulged to the alien."
II. Hiram Wesley Evans, Imperial Wizard and Emperor, Knights of the KKK In 1920, Evans joined the Ku Klux Klan and devoted most of his time to its support. Evans was Imperial wizard from 1922 until 1939. He wrote many works and gave many speeches including "The Klan's Fight for Freedom" and "The Menace of Modern Immigration." Evans was the leader of the Klan's thoughts and actions. In The Menace of Modern Immigration, Evans lists a few steps to making America better. His solution is to: First, stop all immigration with exceptions to separated families, and second, "institute a thorough governmental investigation into every phase of alienism." Eventually, the country would institute a policy between the US and the foreign country where "the selection and then the invitation to come, should originate here, the machinery should be there." (PP. 28-30)
Evans said that there must be standards by which we can judge present and future Americans. Every citizen should measure up to these requirements. The standards were to include: education, health, and home building. (PP. 12-17)
Education: It is very important for a nation to train every citizen, boy and girl, for economic, social, and civic life. Illiteracy is a national burden and liability. Every nation should provide an education to their children, both "native and adopted." (P. 11)
Health: Mental and physical fitness go together and failure in either becomes a public burden. Evans used Eugenics to point out the number of "defectives, dependents, and criminals" that require the nation's care in institutions. Evans used the figures of Dr. Harry H. Laughlin, a eugenics expert at this time, to point out that these burdens are in the millions. Evans blamed Laughlin's results on the flow of immigrants coming into the country. Evans said, "Insanity and crime are the worst manifestations of social inadequacy." The figures showed that insanity was higher among immigrants. Crime was higher among Negroes, Italians, Greeks and the Balkan peoples. (PP. 12-16)
Home Building: Evans said that a happy, wholesome family life insured a nation's "perfect and permanent development." Since most of the immigrants consisted of males, they would most likely find an American woman to mate with and not one of their own race. The Ku Klux Klan would not allow this kind of family life. (P. 17) (The Menace of Modern Immigration)
III. What kinds of people were allowed to join the KKK? (In other words, which groups of people did the KKK like?) According to H.W. Evans in The Klan's Fight for Americanism, the Ku Klux Klan only let these certain groups of people become members:
a) The "Nordic race" - "The race which, with all its faults, has given the world almost the whole of modern civilization." (P. 6)
c) "The mass of old-stock 'plain' Americans"
The people who joined the KKK were sworn to secrecy. The Klan's members included people from all over the community. "Its members were often deeply embedded in the local power structure." Members included farmers, people in the political and legal system, courts, city government, and police force. ( The Klan Rides Again )
IV. Which groups did the KKK not like? In the same document ( The Klan's Fight for Americanism), H.W. Evans made it clear whom the KKK did not like and ultimately saw as the enemy:
a) "Mongrelized" liberals - because "Liberalism has come completely under the dominance of weaklings and parasites." The KKK believed that liberals helped give rise to the Bolshevism by supporting foreigners and immigrants. (P.6)
b) Aliens - As described earlier in the manual, aliens were people who owed "allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation." "Alien ideas are just as dangerous to us as the aliens themselves, no matter how plausible such ideas may sound." The KKK believed that alien ideas did not work for plain people. Ideas that were perfectly healthy to the alien were poisonous to Americans. (P.9) The Klan had sympathy, opportunity and justice for the aliens. The alien did not choose to be born into that race. However, the Klan could never let the alien succeed, no matter how accepted he or she became.
c) Roman Catholics - Evans said in this document that the Klan's issue with the Catholic was not religious but political. He said the Klan had a problem with Catholics because, in the past, the Roman Church opposed the "Nordic's" struggle for success. The Klan also remembered religious persecutions imposed by the Catholics. Evans said that the Roman Catholic Church was also the chief leader of alienism. The Catholics could never become true Americans because the majority of its leaders were either "foreign born, or of foreign parentage and training." Roman Catholics could not teach Americanism because they demand supreme loyalty to the church. In addition, the word Roman is not American in and of itself. Romans are from Rome, which means that Romans are Italians. The Klan considered Italians to be a big problem in the world of aliens and immigration. (PP. 12-14) The KKK poked fun at the Catholic Church by targeting its leader - The Pope - in "The Pope's Last Call." This is a poem about the Pope and his phone call to the Devil. The Pope calls the Devil in a desperate cry for help. The Catholics are trying to kill all the Protestants and the KKK is stopping them. The Pope asks the Devil for advice on how to handle them. The Devil says to the Pope that the KKK is going to make his life a living hell. The Devil says, "I've been a mean old devil, but not half as mean as you." He suggests to the Pope that he go down to hell so that the Devil can hand his job over to him. Then the Devil tells the Pope, "For the boys in white will get you" so he should "Hang up the phone and get your hat and meet me here in hell." This kind of humor targets the Pope for the past persecutions done by the Catholic Church.
d) The Negro was "a special duty and problem of the white American." The Klan believed that every State should make a law against integration and interracial relations.
e) The Jew was a religious problem for the KKK, not racial. The Jew has been persecuted throughout history. The Klan said that this causes the Jew to always be roaming the Earth. The Jew has no place (or country) to call home because the time can only tell when their persecution begins again. Therefore, America is only a temporary home for Jews. Someone who could not be completely committed to America and being an American could not ever become a true American. All of these beliefs are still enforced in the Ku Klux Klan today as they were in the 1920's.
Rich's notes: The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan: The Invisible Empire
Any historian or student of history dealing with the social history of the United States would be remiss if he didn't take a good look at the events surrounding the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) especially during the 1920's. Over the years, there has been a stigma applied to the KKK which is not very heart-warming to say the least. As historian Leonard Moore describes it, most of America understood the Klan to be the ". . . story of a backward segment of American society, one trapped by economic insecurity, dying small-town ways, and an inability to adjust psychologically to the 'modern age' which seemed to emerge so clearly in the decade before the Great Depression." This is the "rap" that the KKK has achieved in the times since its revitalization in the times following the First World War. Of course, this is not to say that this view is unjustified; just ask thousands of non-Anglo-Saxon individuals within the borders of the United States.
The Klan existed across the country and in several different capacities depending on the locale and the membership of the particular Klan/Realm. These "self-interest" groups were created with the intention of uniting white males above the age of eighteen, who were born in America. They were Gentiles who had no allegiance to any foreign governments, or any real foreign connections. They were to be of good morals, with the idea that all others should be as well (taken from The Klan Manual, 1925). In several passages out of the Nighthawk, a KKK newsletter, individuals are mentioned as to being involved with or shown gratitude for their "position" in society. There is one excerpt that talks about the Jacksonville (FLA.) Klan who showed gratitude for the work of an Evangelist by the name of Allen C. Schuler (the "ceremony" took place at the Calvary Baptist Church). In York, Pa., the Klan conducted services for Horace H. Heiney, a former member of the group. A local minister, in full Klan regalia, offered a prayer at the gravesite. There are also mentions made of Senators (Zach Harris of Mo.) as being involved with Klan activities (info gathered from Between the Wars website)
The Klan was rumored to have had an enrollment of at least five million people across the nation at its height (Prof. McClymer's lecture, 9/12). Of course it was not a terribly well developed organization so there were probably thousands more that were not "officially" counted for. Corruption did exist even in an organization that demanded high moral standards as well as order and honesty (see The Klan Manual). As explained in not only the Manual but in such works as "The Menace of Modern Immigration," written by the Imperial Wizard, Hiram Wesley Evans, the membership of the Klan was not only privileged but secret. They were supposed to be "examples of pure patriotism." In other words, those in the organization were the "chosen' individuals who held the job of instilling order in society (a necessary action). According to Evans, it was the Klansmen's duty to carry on the "full Christian program." Although most of the Klans in America consisted of native born Anglo-Saxons, anomalies did occur. Take Worcester for example, where a large part of the contingent here was comprised of Swedish immigrants (info from Prof. McClymer's website). This posed a bit of a problem for several "authentic" members of the Massachusetts Realm. Needless to say though, the membership of the majority of the Klans did not include immigrants. The KKK saw their purpose as to preserve America, as it "ought" to be. They instilled their views and beliefs on the rest of society. It was a way of "guaranteeing success for America"; they were the only form of government to do so according to the Manual.
To get a better understanding of the direction in which the Klan was coming from, one might read The Menace of Modern Immigration. According to Evans, God provides a master key to all problems on earth but it is up to those on earth to "attend to their own temporal salvation and safety." Evans, the Imperial Wizard, saw the problem, as being the fact the United States was (and still is considered) a melting pot. Evans wrote: "We are the melting pot of the world, a problem and a responsibility faced by no other people. Into it has been poured, almost promiscuously, perhaps in recent years designedly, every dross ingredient of citizenship that the earth produces." The solution that Evans saw to this problem was to have a "composite people" and [the way] to achieve this was by eugenics. The "science" of eugenics was the vehicle which Evans used to "carry the word of god" so to speak. It was their destiny (Anglo-Saxons, with all the similar ideologies he held) to have success with America, so he insisted on the importance of dealing with those who could be "molded" to fit the way of the KKK. Those who had already been "fashioned" by God (grew up in other countries with differing ideals, etc..) were not going to allow for a smooth transition for Evans and his "crew".
By establishing a measurement via eugenics, he was able to plot out what was acceptable and what wasn't so that success could still be achieved. Evans saw the KKK . . . as being the sole people responsible for the success or failure of the United States (their destiny). On page 6 Evans speaks of eugenics as meaning everything to America. He felt that not allowing for race suicide was essential. "A failure to take into account family strains, racial characteristics and cultures would have been fatal to correct conclusions (i.e. the success of the country)." Evans says: "Social values, not those associated with the four hundred, but the social values that concern the hundred millions, had to be analyzed and catalogued as wholesome or detrimental to democracy.. . . "
On page 11: "There are certain vital requirements to be met, if our citizenship is to measure up and be maintained in harmony with the ideals of the Republic. And I venture to hope, nay, more I make the prophecy, that this great organization [KKK] will never for an instant lay down its armor or sheath its sword until all of them have ever lastingly achieved." He was referring to the topics of education, health and home building as measurements of possible assimilation. The intent was to try and preserve their way of life for years to come (better marriages allowing for better breeding). According to Evans, once he did his "experiment" with eugenics, he was able to "prove" why individuals such as Jews and Christians were not going to be beneficial to the cause of Americanization.
In the case of the Jew, Evans pointed to the background, which was quite tumultuous. He says that since the Jews were ejected from Judea, they had been nomadic. Since they had no country, they could not understand the feeling of patriotism that comes with the national attachment one has with a country, which was essential to the Americanization process. According to Evans, "They are a people apart from all other peoples. They always will be (pg 22)." He points to the "fact" that the Jew doesn't tie himself to the land, and that you rarely find a Jew actually working, or doing manual labor (pg. 23). Needless to say, the Jew is "alien and inassimilable". Another group, which wouldn't help the assimilation process in America, would be the Catholics. Apparently the "mixing" that goes on in Roman and Greek Catholicism states is not good. Anytime a church has encroached upon the state and schools with its influence the results are never good. Evans stresses the need for a separation of church and state (pg. 24). He even points to the idea of a parochial school as a detrimental institution.
Of course, Evans [claimed that he] was not opposed to these groups, it just that they were of no good to the assimilation process here in the United States. Needless to say, the KKK thrived in America for a majority of the 1920's, with their Americanization of America. They were the most patriotic, and intended to create a successful nation. The stance was a loosely based survival of the fittest. The KKK did gain some political power, but those holding office did not do so for very long.
Kevin's notes: Through the readings it is clear to me that the typical idea of a KKK member is not one that only targets blacks. It is true that the KKK originated after the Civil War in an attempt to rain terror upon blacks and to try and restore white supremacy in the South (The Klan Rides Again, 1). This was only the beginning of the KKK in the United States and would reach its climax in the 1920s. No longer was the Klan centered in the South but rather throughout the nation. More than three million Americans joined the Klan in the 1920s (The Klan Rides Again, 1).
To distinguish [describe?] this large group of Klansmen it is best to quote Moore, a historian about the Klan. Moore concludes that the "Klan . . . appears to have acted as a kind of interest group for the average white Protestant who believes that his values should be dominant in American society." (The Klan Rides Again, 2) Another important account states "the Klan appealed to a across-section of white Protestant, not a cross-section of all Americans." (The Klan Rides Again, 3) Another source of information on this topic comes straight out of the The Klan Manual. In this Manual the Klan states its primary purpose: "To unite white male persons, native-born, Gentile citizens of the United States Of America" and "They are to organize the patriotic sentiment of native-born white, Protestant Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions." (The Klan Manual, 3). Besides being Protestant, these Klan members seem to be law-abiding citizens who only wanted to serve and protect their country and towns. Many Klan members were in the local power structure of politics, legal systems and newspapers (The Klan Rides Again, 3). They held respectable jobs and contributed to their local community. Klans helped schools, social clubs and people in need. In The Klan Manual it states, Klansman duty is "to be patriotic toward our country." Through such information one can conclude that we are not dealing with an uneducated individual or an unpatriotic person that hates the United States. Rather we are looking at a highly [overstaement?] educated group that cares strongly about their beliefs and the beliefs of their country. According to The Klan Manual every member must be loyal to: the government of the United States, his state, his flag, the Constitution of the United States, Constitutional laws and Law enforcement. So it would seem that the members of the Klan were law-abiding citizens who paid their taxes and contributed to their community.
In every group, or organization of people there is a leader. The Klan's leader is called the Imperial Wizard. On the subject of Eugenics, the Imperial Wizard felt strongly about maintaining white supremacy, but not [of] all whites. Protestant whites were the ideal race and superior than all other races. Immigration into the United States was seen as a problem for the Klan and the Imperial Wizard. The Imperial Wizard, Hiram Wesley Evans, stated: "Our unity is threatened by hordes of immigrants who bring foreign ideas and ideals into our land." He intoned: "Two things must be done: first, we must stop influx of foreigners; second, we must through education, bring all people to common program of acting and thinking." (The Klan Rides Again, 3). The Imperial Wizard saw immigration as a poison coming into the United States; bring small pox and other diseases into the country. The Klan did not look upon immigrants as equals even if they were white. Immigrants brought crime, alcoholism, foreign ideas and filth. Also, Jews and Catholics could not be considered true Americans because they too were not Protestant and therefore not a true holder of the American spirit. According to the Klan the only true Americans were "native-born white, Gentile citizens." (The Klan Rides Again, 3). If you were not of this blood, then you were not considered American.
Tim writes: From The Klan Manual of 1925, this is their primary purpose:
To unite white male persons, native-born, Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person, or people; whose morals are good; whose reputations and vocations are respectable; whose habits are exemplary; who are of sound minds and eighteen years or more of age, under a common oath into a brotherhood of strict regulations.
The Klan Manual also dictates the other objects and purposes that are designed to create a "real brotherhood." They want to relieve and help the suffering, the distressed, the unfortunate, and the oppressed. They attempt to develop a spirit of American patriotism among men who are of the same race, belief, spirit, character, interest, and purpose. Another goal is to maintain white supremacy forever.
So, how did the Klan attempt to maintain white supremacy or develop a spirit of American patriotism? They state that they want to help the suffering and the unfortunate, but does this mean that they should go to such great lengths as to write "KKK" in a black man's head with hot acid. For that is what the "imperial wizard,, Hiram Wesley Evans did in 1920 when he led a group of klansmen to a nearby hotel and forcibly removed Alex Johnson, a black bellhop and wrote "KKK" on his head with burning acid (The Texas Handbook Online). Is this an act to develop a spirit of American patriotism or help the unfortunate?
Hiram Wesly Evans, in the document, The Menace of Modern Immigration, stated, "There is no hatred in my heart for any individual nationality, or race upon the face of the earth today. I love all humanity."
After reading about what the Klan attempted to preach, what types of people entered the Klan? The Klan attracted its largest membership in the 1920's, with more than three million Americans joining. The Klan was mainly made up of white Protestants who believed their values to be dominant in American society. The Klan appealed to a cross-section of white Protestants, and not a cross-section of all Americans (The Klan Rides Again). With a goal of true Americanism, the Klan wanted any immigrant to come with "an inherent capacity for our kind of citizenship" and even though,"he may be untrained, but he must not be untrainable. There must be nothing in his racial or national character that will close the door and keep it everlastingly shut against American ideas and ideals." Evans suggested three tests of Americanism that could be done: intelligence, health and wholesome homes. But despite these tests, Evans states that some peoples "cannot be merged because of insurmountable social, racial, and religious barriers. They will always stand apart from our own people." Blacks for example, according to Evans, "have not, they cannot, attain the Anglo-Saxon level." He comes to this conclusion by using biology and anthropology and the experience of centuries that have passed. The "low mentality of savage ancestors," supposedly, is inherent in the bloodstream of the "colored race" of America. He concludes that there could never be an intermarriage between whites and blacks without God's curse upon our civilization. (The Menace of Modern Immigration) Is this a man who loves all of humanity? Evans also speaks about the Jews. They are an "absolutely unblendable element -- they are a people apart from all other people, they always will be." Evans goes on to say that a merging could never be brought about and their homes are not American but Jewish homes. Along with Jews, the Klan believes that Catholics are impossible to assimilate and a threat to their institution. One of the main reasons the Klan believes Catholics are "unblendable" is because, as Evans stated, Catholics thrive upon ignorance.