Fifty years after the end of the Civil War, William Joseph Simmons, a failed Methodist minister, formed a fraternal order he called The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Organized primarily as a money-making scheme, it shared little but its name with the Ku Klux Klan of the Reconstruction Era. With its avowed creed of “One Hundred Percent Americanism,” support of Protestant Christian values, white supremacy, and the rejection of all things foreign, this new Klan became, for a brief period of time in the mid-1920s, one of America’s most powerful social and political organizations.
Shamelessly adopting the symbols of the hooded robe and burning cross from the movie, The Birth of a Nation, and exploiting the sense that America was headed in the wrong direction, the order spread rapidly to every state in the nation. While often using intimidation and violence against its foes, the Klan was responsible for the election of supportive politicians at all levels of government.
Following a disastrous attempt to influence the presidential election of 1924, and with increasing public awareness of the Klan’s corrupt and violent nature, the order faltered, becoming a mere wisp of its former self by 1930.
This original and meticulously researched history of America’s second Ku Klux Klan presents many new and fascinating insights into this unique and important episode in American History.
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