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2 – Due March 25

Historical background:

origins and development of the Klu Klux Klan

Sources: Digital″>; and New Georgia”> March 12,

From 1868 through the
early 1870s the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) functioned as a loosely organized group of
political and social terrorists. The Klan’s goals included political defeat of
the Republican Party and the maintenance of absolute white supremacy in
response to newly gained civil and political rights by southern blacks after”>Civil War
(1861-65). They were more successful in achieving their political goals than
they were with their social goals during”>Reconstruction

The KKK was formed as a social group in
Tennessee in 1866. The name probably came from the Greek word kuklos,
meaning “circle.”

Klan was an alliterative version of
“clan,” thus Ku Klux Klan suggested a circle, or band, of brothers.
With the passage of the Military Reconstruction Acts in March 1867, and the
prospect of freedmen voting in the South, the Klan became a political
organization. Former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest probably served
as the Grand Wizard, or overall leader, of the Klan and certainly played a
significant role in its organized spread in early 1868.

Under Bedford Forrest’s leadership, the Klan
used terrorist tactics to intimidate former slaves. A new version of the Ku
Klux Klan arose during the early 1920s. Throughout this time period,
immigration, fear of radicalism, and a revolution in morals and manners fanned
anxiety in large parts of the country. Roman Catholics, Jews, African
Americans, and foreigners were only the most obvious targets of the Klan’s
fear-mongering. Bootleggers and divorcees were also targets.

Contributing to the Klan’s growth was a
post-war depression in agriculture, the migration of African Americans into
northern cities, and a swelling of religious bigotry and nativism in the years
after World War I. Klan members considered themselves defenders of Prohibition,
traditional morality, and true Americanism. The Klan efforts were directed
against African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and immigrants.

In 1920, two Atlanta publicists, Edward Clarke,
a former Atlanta journalist, and Bessie Tyler, a former madam [that is, a
female manager of a brothel], took over an organization that had formed to
promote World War I fund drives. At that time, the organization had 3,000
members. In three years they built it into the Southern Publicity Association,
a national organization with three million members. After the war, they
bolstered membership in the Klan by giving Klansmen part of the $10 induction
fee of every new member they signed up.

During the early 1920s, the Klan helped elect
16 U.S. Senators and many Representatives and local officials. By 1924, when
the Klan had reached its peak in numbers and influence, it claimed to control
24 of the nation’s 48 state legislatures. That year it succeeded in blocking
the nomination of Al Smith, a New York Catholic, at the Democratic National

The three million members of the Klan after
World War I were quite open in their activities. Many were small-business owners,
independent professionals, clerical workers, and farmers. Members marched in
parades, patronized Klan merchants, and voted for Klan-endorsed political
candidates. The Klan was particularly strong in the Deep South, Oklahoma, and
Indiana. Historians once considered the Ku Klux Klan a group of marginal
misfits, rural traditionalists unable to cope with the coming of a modern urban
society. But recent scholarship shows that Klan members were a cross-section of
native Protestants; many were women, and many came from urban areas.

The leader of Indiana’s Klan was David Curtis
Stephenson, a Texan who had worked as a printer’s apprentice in Oklahoma before
becoming a salesman in Indiana. Given control of the Klan in Indiana in 1922
and the right to organize in 20 other states, he soon became a millionaire from
the sale of robes and hoods. A crowd estimated at 200,000 attended one Klan
gathering in Kokomo, Ind., in 1923.

A public defender of Prohibition and womanhood,
Stephenson was, in private, a heavy drinker and a womanizer. In 1925, he was
tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and sexually
assaulting 28-year-old Madge Oberholtzer, who ran a state program to combat
illiteracy. Stephenson’s downfall, which was followed by the indictment and
prosecution of many Klan-supported politicians on corruption charges, led
members to abandon the organization in droves. Within a year, the number of
Klansmen in Indiana fell from 350,000 to 15,000. By 1930, the Klan had just
45,000 members in the nation as a whole.

in the Klu Klux Klan

Source: Digital History.″> (Accessed March 12,

Soon after [the KKK] was
revived in 1915, women, already active in the temperance and suffragist
movements, began forming groups with Klan-like tenets; in 1923 these groups
developed into the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), which lasted until the
Depression and enrolled hundreds of thousands of recruits.

Assigned Reading:

Brief biography of
Kathleen M.”>

Blee, “Women in the
1920s Klu Klux Klan Movement” (24 pages), located in the Readings Folder at our
class website.

Essay instructions:

Until recently,
scholars of women’s history focused on the demographics,
activities, and beliefs of women liberals. Blee broke with this pattern by
analyzing the activities of conservative and even ultra-conservative women,
including female members of the Klu Klux Klan.

Before ratification
of the 19th Amendment, women of all political persuasions were
unified by their commitment to winning the vote. But as Blee tells us, this
unity broke immediately after women had won the vote. Liberal and conservative
suffragists divided over a number of issues, including the question of racial
equality and immigration. Among the conservatives were female Klan members.
Blee reports that they had campaigned for the vote because they wanted
political leverage, with which they would advocate on behalf of their families
and communities.

In two-to-four typed,
double-spaced pages, please write an essay that weaves together your responses
to the following questions:

What sort of women joined the Klu Klux

Why did they join?

What were the social and political
beliefs of female Klan members?

Would you describe women in the Klan as Feminists
or Maternalists?

Your discussion should be reasoned in
precise/specific terms – no empty generalizations. Please see the attached
writing guide on page 4 for additional tips.

Worksheet for Reading Essays

paragraph: this should provide your readers with a road map to what you will
explain or argue.

  1. Provide
    essential information about the reading or sources that you will discuss
    1. Identify
      the author and title of the reading that you will discuss.
    2. Report the author’s topic and
      his/her particular focus on that topic. Paraphrase!
  1. Forecast
    your argument by stating what you will argue or explain (based on the
    reading). Make sure that your argument or explanation is relevant to the
    assignment questions.

the reading for your readers who have not read it.

  1. Report
    the author’s argument in no more than one or two paragraphs. (Imagine
    that you are teaching the article to someone who has not read it.)

  1. Report
    the facts of the argument rather than your assessment of its merits. No
    editorializing about the article


In “No
Allusions in the Classroom,” Jaimie O’Neill concludes students cannot
learn if they do not share a foundation of common knowledge with the teacher.
As he sees it, students often do not ask questions; and consequently, teachers
assume that students have more background knowledge than they do. O’Neill’s
evidence includes personal observation, data from recent polls, and other
scholars’ opinions. His purpose in writing is to persuade teachers that they
must assess students’ background knowledge before teaching them new content
and skills.

the historical background to whatever the author is analyzing. Authors report
this information in order to explain the cause and effects of
whatever event, idea, or development s/he is discussing. This information
sets the stage for what you will argue about the past.

  1. Provide the following information as
    concisely as possible:
    1. Who did what? Or, what happened?
    2. When and where did they do it? Or, when and where did it happen?
    3. How and whydid they do it? Or, How and whydid it happen?
    4. What, specifically,
      were the consequences of these developments, particularly for the topic
      that the author is discussing?

  1. Report
    historical events in the sequence that they occurred.

and report your reasoning in order to answer the assignment questions.

  1. Read through the article to locate
    content that is relevant to the questions. Summarize it.
  2. While discussing each point, answer
    these questions:
    1. What
      specifically will you report from the author’s argument?
    2. What
      are your reasons for reporting this information? Put differently, what
      is it that you will argue or explain based on this information?
    3. What
      evidence in the reading supports your explanation or argument?
  3. Check
    that you answered the assignment questions in a focused, clear, and
    logically sequenced argument.


  1. Restate your
    main points about the author’s argument.
  2. Explain the
    significance of your reasoning for our understanding of the author’s
  3. Identify
    how writing this essay has deepened your understanding of the author’s
    argument. Be specific!

After writing the
first draft, use Spell and Grammar Check – a computer tool – and have someone
proofread the 1st draft. Ask him or her to identify sections of the
essay that are unclear or confusing to them. Likewise, have them identify
sentences that are “clunkers” – that is, statements that are incomplete,
unclear, or awkwardly structured.

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