Event Title

#38 - The Past is a Foreign Country They View Things Differently There: The Perception of “The Invisible Empire of The Ku Klux Klan” as a Benevolent Secret Society from 1915 to 1965

Faculty Mentor

Dr. McClelland-Nugent

Proposal Type

Poster

Start Date

2-11-2019 10:20 AM

End Date

2-11-2019 11:30 AM

Location

Cleveland Ballroom

Abstract

This paper looks at the history of Americans’ changing attitudes toward the Ku Klux Klan. It contributes to the scholarships on Civil War history and domestic terrorism through the case of the KKK. In this paper I used primary and secondary sources such as news footage and articles. The journalist Edward Pollard’s book, The Lost Cause: a new Southern history of the War of the Confederates (1867), influenced generations of Americans both South and North by writing a revisionist history of the Civil War painting confederates as rebels who should still fight to maintain white supremacy. This belief in this “lost cause” led many Americans, in the South especially, to support and have positive attitudes toward the KKK. However even as the Klan claimed to support the ideals of the lost cause, their actions often undermined their claims of benevolence and of the upholding of Southern value. The Klan, especially after its revival post-WWI, terrorized through violent acts anyone they deemed not “pure American.” By the 1920s, they had taken over state governments and law enforcement institutions. Americans began to see through their web of lies and their violence. The public realized that the perfect life the Klan extolled did not exist and had never existed in the past. For many Americans, in part thanks to the work of African American civil rights activists, the crimes the leadership of the Klan committed and encouraged were too great to go unpunished. With positive perceptions of the Klan declining by the 1930s the ideals of the Klan would not resurface again for several decades. Today, it is unlikely the Klan will ever be regarded as positively as it once was even if similar hate groups still plague our society.

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Nov 2nd, 10:20 AM Nov 2nd, 11:30 AM

#38 - The Past is a Foreign Country They View Things Differently There: The Perception of “The Invisible Empire of The Ku Klux Klan” as a Benevolent Secret Society from 1915 to 1965

Cleveland Ballroom

This paper looks at the history of Americans’ changing attitudes toward the Ku Klux Klan. It contributes to the scholarships on Civil War history and domestic terrorism through the case of the KKK. In this paper I used primary and secondary sources such as news footage and articles. The journalist Edward Pollard’s book, The Lost Cause: a new Southern history of the War of the Confederates (1867), influenced generations of Americans both South and North by writing a revisionist history of the Civil War painting confederates as rebels who should still fight to maintain white supremacy. This belief in this “lost cause” led many Americans, in the South especially, to support and have positive attitudes toward the KKK. However even as the Klan claimed to support the ideals of the lost cause, their actions often undermined their claims of benevolence and of the upholding of Southern value. The Klan, especially after its revival post-WWI, terrorized through violent acts anyone they deemed not “pure American.” By the 1920s, they had taken over state governments and law enforcement institutions. Americans began to see through their web of lies and their violence. The public realized that the perfect life the Klan extolled did not exist and had never existed in the past. For many Americans, in part thanks to the work of African American civil rights activists, the crimes the leadership of the Klan committed and encouraged were too great to go unpunished. With positive perceptions of the Klan declining by the 1930s the ideals of the Klan would not resurface again for several decades. Today, it is unlikely the Klan will ever be regarded as positively as it once was even if similar hate groups still plague our society.