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

By Glenn Feldman | Go to book overview

7
Elite War on the Klan

People all over the country were anxious to quell the Klan in Alabama in part so that the state would conform to national standards. By 1926 the KKK was dead or dying fast in most states but not in the Deep South.1 In fact, it had seen a resurgence in Alabama. With its sweep of the 1926 elections, the Klan had scored a stunning political triumph over its Big Mule/ Black Belt antagonists. The political conflict between Klan and oligarchy allowed the hooded order to extend its influence far longer in Alabama than in other states. During the 1920s, Alabama became the arena in which the oligarchy and the Klan waged a political battle royal. In the politically charged atmosphere, events such as the 1924 national convention, the 1926 state elections, and Oscar Underwood's retirement acquired new meaning.

Considered within the same context, the conviction of Jeff Calloway's floggers marked a major victory for the Big Mule/Black Belt coalition. National and regional editors took their cue about Alabama conditions largely from the patrician press. Both national and regional editors first noticed the "epidemic" of violence in Alabama only after Victor Hanson's newspapers had spoken of one. Now, in the fall of 1927, the victory of good over evil in Alabama was more apparent than real. Actually, the Klan's death was a figment of wishful oligarchical thinking and not reality. The Calloway convictions were undeniably a serious setback for Alabama's KKK but hardly amounted to the death of the secret society. The conflict between Alabama's Klan and anti-Klan forces during the 1920s, usually depicted as a struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, is more complex.

Patrician mouthpiece Grover Hall took the lead in declaring the Klan dead in Alabama. "Wherever the State goes into action against floggers," Hall declared in the pages of the Montgomery Advertiser, "Klansmen are in-

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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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