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In 1915, forty years after the original Ku Klux Klan disbanded, a former farmer, circuit preacher, and university lecturer named Colonel William Joseph Simmons revived the secret society. By the early 1920s the KKK had been transformed into a national movement with millions of dues-paying members and chapters in all of the nation’s forty-eight states. And unlike the Reconstruction-era society, the 1920s-era Klan exerted its influence far beyond the South.
In The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Rory McVeigh provides a revealing analysis of the broad social agenda of 1920s-era KKK, showing that although the organization continued to promote white supremacy, it also addressed a surprisingly wide range of social and economic issues, targeting immigrants and, particularly, Catholics, as well as African Americans, as dangers to American society. In sharp contrast to earlier studies of the KKK, which focus on the local or regional level, McVeigh treats the Klan as it saw itself—as a national organization concerned with national issues.
Drawing on extensive research into the Klan’s national publication, the Imperial Night-Hawk, he traces the ways in which Klan leaders interpreted national issues and how they attempted—and finally failed—to influence national politics.
More broadly, in detailing the Klan’s expansion in the early 1920s and its collapse by the end of the decade, McVeigh ultimately sheds light on the dynamics that fuel contemporary right-wing social movements that similarly blur the line between race, religion, and values.
- Source: Book description at Amazon.com
The Ku Klux Klan - A Secret History A History Channel documentary.
Ku Klux Klan Brief overview by the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of its Hate Groups Map. Includes a listing of different KKK group names.
Ku Klux Klan Brief overview by the Anti-Defamation League.
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