Rise of the Second KKK

In its first five years of operation, the Klan attracted about 90,000 people, mainly from the South, but by 1920 growth had leveled off.  So Colonel Simmons (as he called himself) hired Mr. Edward Clarke and Mrs. Elizabeth Tyler to direct publicity, advertising, and recruiting.  Clarke and Tyler instructed Kleagles, Klan salesmen, to sell the Klan in ways most appealing to local communities.  Their campaign strategies achieved monumental success.  The Klan spread rapidly through the South and the Southwest, and by 1921 reached the Midwest, Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific states.  At its peak around 1924, under the direction of Simmons’ successor Hiram Evans, the Klan had about two million members (Jackson, 1967).

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This map (original image) clearly illustrates that the Second KKK of the 1920s was in fact strikingly different from the almost exclusively-southern KKK of the post-Civil War era.  The highest Klan populations were not in southern states, but were rather in the northern-midwest region, with Indiana having by far the largest Klan population of any state.

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