Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949

By Glenn Feldman | Go to book overview

10 Disloyalty, Revenge, and the End of an Era

The 1928 presidential election had active political fallout in Alabama. While Bourbon elites celebrated their success in delivering the state's electors to Al Smith, they grieved the larger Pepublican triumph and realized how narrowly their own state had escaped. Still, the bareness of their victory did not prevent the oligarchy from issuing yet another round of declarations that the KKK was dead. This time the pronouncement was far more accurate, especially in a political sense.1

For a while the Klan leaders of Alabama's Hoovercrats did some celebrating of their own. Their neck-and-neck race proved that the politics of prejudice was alive and well in the Deep South. Such a remarkably close vote in a Solid South state was a powerful testament to the ability of politicians to prey upon the deepest insecurities of their fellow Alabamians. By threatening to cost a party the loss of Alabama in a national election, the KKK's leading strategists, perhaps for the first time, began to realize the potential of waging a politics based almost exclusively on racial fear and hatred.

Although Tom Heflin, Hugh Locke, and Horace Wilkinson most likely felt cheerful about the future, for two of them the 1928 election actually marked the zenith of their political careers. While the trio clung to the politics of intolerance after 1928, they increasingly fought a rearguard action that even they eventually recognized as untenable. Hugo Black and Bibb Graves, though, were rewarded for the discretion they displayed in 1928. While Heflin and Locke's political stock plummeted, Graves and Black moved further from the Klan and consequently thrived. Wilkinson marched to his own drummer. After 1928 Wilkinson increasingly concentrated his efforts on dominating politics and patronage in Birmingham.2

-193-

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Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Origins of the Revised Klan 11
  • 2 - The Civic, Educational, and Progressive Klan 21
  • 3 - The Moral and Religious Klan 37
  • 4 - The Racist and Nativist Klan 51
  • 5 - The Political Klan 63
  • 6 - The Year of the Whip 92
  • 7 - Elite War on the Klan 116
  • 8 - Limits of the Oligarchy's Campaign 137
  • 9 - Race Over Rum, Romans, and Republicans 160
  • 10 - Disloyalty, Revenge, and the End of an Era 193
  • 11 - 1930s Causes Celebres Scottsboro and Hugo Black 219
  • 12 - The Threat of Urban Radicalism 238
  • 13 - Farm, Factory, and Hooded Persistence 259
  • 14 - World War II and Postwar Alabama 285
  • 15 - Federal-State Interaction in the 1940s 305
  • Epilogue "To Wither Away" 325
  • Abbreviations 329
  • Notes 335
  • Bibliography 399
  • Index 427
  • About the Author 458
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