Ku Klux Klan pamphlet, early 1930s

The original Ku Klux Klan had died out in the 1870s, but made a big comeback around the time of World War I. This time, the movement spread beyond the South to bring in large numbers of members in the Midwest and on both coasts. In the early 1920s, the angry message of the new Klan had recruited two million members nationwide.

Around 150,000 Texans were members of the Klan's so-called "invisible empire." They held parades wearing hoods and sheets and burned huge crosses to intimidate blacks, Catholics, Jews, and others who disagreed with their definition of "traditional morality." For a time, the Klan had great success in getting its members elected to public office. Following the 1922 election, the Klan had the majority in the Texas House of Representatives, controlled the city governments of Dallas, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, and a number of small towns, and had installed one of their own, Earle Mayfield, as U.S. Senator.

The Klan looked forward to even bigger triumphs in 1924. However, their opponents organized against them. That year, Miriam A. Ferguson defeated Klan candidate Felix D. Robertson for the Democratic nomination for governor. Internal dissension and public disgust caused the Klan to fall apart. By the late 1920s, membership had fallen to 2500.

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Ku Klux Klan pamphlet

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Ku Klux Klan pamphlet, early 1930s, Ku Klux Klan Papers, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 24, 2011