Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan

Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan

Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan

Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan

Synopsis

Ten Dollars to Hate tells the story of the massive Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s--by far the most "successful" incarnation since its inception in the ashes of the Civil War--and the first prosecutor in the nation to successfully convict and jail Klan members. Dan Moody, a twenty-nine-year-old Texas district attorney, demonstrated that Klansmen could be punished for taking the law into their own hands--in this case, for the vicious flogging of a young World War I veteran.

The 1920s Klan numbered in the millions and infiltrated politics and law enforcement across the United States, not just in the Deep South. Several states elected Klan-sponsored governors and US senators. Klansmen engaged in extreme violence against whites as well as blacks, promoted outrageous bigotry against various ethnic groups, and boycotted non-Klan businesses.

A few courageous public officials tried to make Klansmen pay for their crimes, notably after Klan assaults in California and Texas and two torture-murders in Louisiana. All failed until September 1923 when Dan Moody convicted and won significant prison time for five Klansmen in a tense courtroom in Georgetown, Texas. Moody became a national sensation overnight and went on to become the youngest governor of Texas at the age of 33.

The Georgetown cases were the beginning of the end for this iteration of the Klan. Two years later, the head of the Klan in Indiana was convicted of murdering a young woman. Membership dwindled almost as quickly as it had grown, but the Klan's poisonous influence lingered through the decades that followed. Ten Dollars to Hate explores this pivotal--and brutal--chapter in the history of America.

Excerpt

I wrote this book to remedy ignorance, beginning with my own. Most Americans, even educated Americans, think of our national history as a series of large, blunt chunks without much refinement of detail. the Declaration of Independence. the Revolutionary War. the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark. the Civil War. Reconstruction. and so on.

When we think of the so-called Roaring Twenties, certain images come inevitably to mind. Flappers in bobbed hair and rolled stockings. Speakeasies and bathtub gin. the Jazz Age, the Charleston, and the Black Bottom. Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Raccoon coats and spats. Theda Bara and Rudolph Valentino. Social turmoil that boiled up and ended in a crash. Freed of the lingering Victorian prudery of traditionalists who were shocked by the changing mores of the twenties, the Jazz Age, we might think, must have been an exciting time to be alive, especially if we could skip the extended hangover of the Great Depression that followed.

Most of us are much less aware of another more disturbing element in the mix of the postwar tumult—the rise of the Second Ku Klux Klan. the first Ku Klux Klan was an organization that appeared at the end of the Civil War and had a brief and extremely violent life in the states of the former Confederacy. the second Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1915, was the only mass-movement kkk, seducing literally millions of American men to join their “100 percent American” crusade.

At its peak in the early 1920s, the kkk had a million or more members, not just in the Deep South but up into the Midwest and even on the West Coast. Far beyond the numbers of those who actually joined the Klan, the kkk had an enormous influence on the tenor of the times, dominating the front pages of newspapers across the country.

Almost everyone who first hears the story of Ralph Burleson and Fannie Campbell and their alleged illicit relationship (see chapter 1) assumes that the vicious Klan response occurred because one was white and the other was black. in fact, both Ralph and Fannie were Caucasian, but that did not save them from the rough attentions of the Klan.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.