Political aspirations

The Politikal Blog. (2010). [Map of the 1924 and 1928 Presidential Elections].  Retrieved from  http://mypolitikal.com/2010/11/09/a-regional-party-limited-to-the-south-the-democrats-in-the-1920s-part-3/

Historians across time are in agreement that gaining political power was extremely important to the 1920s Klan.   There were three overarching political motives of the KKK:

  1. Destroy the power of the Catholic church
  2. Keep the political influence of minority and ethnic groups in check
  3. Remove all other corrupt politicians

Interestingly, local political races the Klan was often involved in focused on law enforcement, abolishing the spoils system, healthy public schools, and proper moral surroundings for children (Rice, 1962).

To increase their visibility and status and to spread the word that, according to an official Klan publication from 1925, “soon all political parties would have to reckon with the Klan” (Rice, 1962, p. 30), the KKK organized a variety of very public and very visible marches and demonstrations on Washington.

Image 1                                                                             Image 2

This are photographs – a still frame of reality as it was in 1924 – and ones that could rather quickly and easily be distributed through the burgeoning newspaper industry.  Widespread newspaper coverage was a rather new and novel way to quickly spread images and stories, and hopefully, power and influence.  These  photographs are striking because of what to our modern eyes appears to be something that is incongruent – thousands of Ku Klux Klansmen marching peacefully in the shadow of the United States Capital building. The Capital building is significant in that it is a symbol of law, justice, and power. The American flag is a symbol of national pride. Klan robes and hats are pure white – but the faces of the Klansmen are not covered. These picturse make much more sense given the historical context in which they were taken – the Capital building, the American flags, the white robes, the uncovered faces — their very public presence was meant to send a message to politicians that they were a political force to be reckoned with; a moral majority so to speak, of the 1920s.

Image 1:

Semantink.  (2012).  [Photograph of 1925 KKK March on Washington].  Retrieved from http://semantink.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/kkk_1925.jpg

Image 2:

FBI. (1924). KKK March on Washington. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2010/april/klan2_042910/image/kkk500.jpg


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