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Journal Article

Review: Ordinary White Protestants: The KKK of the 1920s: The Invisible Empire in the West by Shawn Lay

Reviewed Works: The Invisible Empire in the West by Shawn Lay; Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928 by Leonard J. Moore; Steel Valley Klan: The Ku Klux Klan in Ohio's Mahoning Valley by William D. Jenkins; The Leo Frank Case Reconsidered: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Making of Reactionary Populism by Nancy MacLean
Review by: Stanley Coben
Journal of Social History
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 155-165
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3788348
Page Count: 11
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Ordinary White Protestants: The KKK of the 1920s
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Abstract

During the past fifteen years a large literature has appeared which contradicts, at most important points, previous work on the huge, nationwide Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. The recent literature, unlike its predecessors, depends heavily on analysis of data found on Klan chapter membership applications. This essay reviews nine of the most recent contributions to the revisionist literature. All of these authors found that Klansmen, in a great variety of regions, had the general characteristics of that area's white, native-born male Protestants, except that Klansmen were greatly underrepresented among both elite business leaders and unskilled workers. These predominantly middle-class Klansmen were ordinarily nonviolent outside the South, and much more concerned with moral reform-especially prohibition enforcement-than with the minority groups, particularly Roman Catholics, toward whom they held and expressed traditional white Protestant prejudices. One article demonstrated that a major Klan objective in Georgia was preservation of paternalistic Victorian gender relations. In the northern, industrial areas where non-Protestants and nonwhites predominated, the Klan was either very weak or hopelessly outnumbered and faced with superior firepower. This made the vigilante violence common in Georgia an extremely hazardous activity. Even Klan parades and open meetings often were disrupted by violence in those areas.

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