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

By Glenn Feldman | Go to book overview

I
Origins of the Revised Klan

In 1920 Americans grappled with a bewildering array of changes. The U.S. Census Bureau announced that for the first time in the nation's history a majority of Americans lived in urban settings. Women won the right to vote. Many observers hoped that the "weaker sex" would exert a healing effect on politics, but some believed that exposure to political disease entailed the risk of contamination. The Great War, with its unparalleled waste of human life, shocked a generation. The nation found little solace in the aftermath of war. Domestic violence racked the country as the "red Summer" redefined the meaning and the regional character of racial turmoil. During the world war, Russia's Bolshevik Revolution raised the terrifying specter of "Reds" and anarchists plotting from within. In the postwar period, worry turned to fear, then paranoia, as American authorities brutally stamped out a largely illusory menace in the Red Scare of 1919-1920. Labor and management clashed in a record number of strikes in 1919. Disillusionment set in as people began to realize that the unspeakable violence of World War I had not made the world safe for democracy. America's failure to join the League of Nations only underscored the stinging reality that countries were still at odds after the Peace of Versailles.1

Meanwhile, foreigners continued to pour in from southern and eastern Europe. For many old-stock Americans this new immigration was unwelcome. It contrasted sharply with the earlier, acceptable nineteenth-century immigration of Anglo-Saxons, a movement in which many older-stock Americans had taken part. The new Jewish and Catholic immigrants were strange peoples with strange ways. They huddled together by choice and necessity, often in urban ghettoes. They spoke their own languages, retained their own style of dress and customs, published newspapers in their mother

-11-

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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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