The Influence of the KKK 1920-1928

Outlines and evaluates the arguments for and against the influence of the KKK in the 1920s.

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  • The Influence of the KKK 1920-1928
    • That the KKK did have significant influence
      • 1) Rise in membership
        • 1925: KKK reached its peak with 4m members
          • This was a small proportion of the 105m-strong population
        • The Red Scare led to the growing awareness of 'revolutionary' political ideologies which were seen as threatening to the American way of life
      • 2) Terror in the Southern States
        • The burning of crosses and lynching during the 1920s meant that there was no hope for a civil rights movement
        • Had complete control in states like Illinois; 1924: David Stephenson has all of Indiana under KKK control
        • KKK influence not limited to Southern States - also had influence in Denver, Dallas and Detroit
      • 3) Political influence
        • Were influential in the victory of the Protestant Hoover in the 1928 Presidential election against the Catholic Al Smith
        • In 1924, helped the election of officials in Maine, Indiana, Louisiana and Colorado
        • At one point, both Senators for Georgia were Klansmen
        • Boasted aiding the passing of several immigration laws during the 1920s
    • That the KKK did not have significant influence
      • 1) Fall in membership
        • 1929: membership has fallen to 200,000
        • 1925: David Stephenson convicted of rape and second degree murder, which went against the KKK's campaign for morality
        • Once immigration laws had been passed, they had essentially 'got what they came for'
        • Tensions between members who couldn't agree on how extreme to be
          • Leader Evans introduced camping trips, which alienated the extremist members, while others saw it as a social group
      • 2) Little achievement at national level
        • No support on the West Coast or in New England
        • Majority of support in Southern, rural America
          • The WASPs in rural, Southern America had the most political influence of all groups within American society at the time


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