How far do you agree with the view that in the 1920’s the KKK possessed neither sizable support nor significant influence?
The 1920’s marked a period of great racial tension throughout American Society, with the period often regarded as a melting pot due to such strains and tensions. The immigration of new, non-protestant immigrants such as Catholics and Jews since the turn of the century had brought about large scale unease due to the sheer number of immigrants. Combined with Mexicans, Orientals as well as a rapidly growing black population, these minority groups were to suffer at the hands of those concerned with the values of White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, with these values playing a fundamental role in the American way of life. Arguably, the Ku Klux Klan was formed concerning a culmination of such values, allowing for the tolerance of racist views within the media, literature alongside within formal organisations. Its popularity and influence stemmed from its appeal, which was broadened from blacks to incorporate the views of those who disliked immigrants, catholics, jews, bootleggers etc. Ultimately the KKK’s increase in popularity in the early 1920’s resulted in its influence.
It can be argued that the KKK possessed both sizable support and significant influence due to its popular revival subsequent to WW1, with this having a notable popular impact well into the 1920s. The growing spirit of intolerance which spread across much of America became apparent due to the wartime revival of the the Ku Klux Klan. The organisation was remodeled and reorganised with new techniques used by both Edgar Clark and Elizabeth Taylor in order to sell the Klan to America. A key reason for its rise in popularity came as a result of D.W Griffiths film ‘The Birth of A Nation’ of 1915, due to the fact that it idolised and highlighted previous american values, and although those portrayed in the film were outdated, many americans were reminded of a ‘better america.’ This ultimately increased hatred towards blacks and black american due to an alteration in attitudes, with this film resulting in the view that the American way of life was threatened, with this blame placed upon Negroes, Catholics, Atheists, Bootleggers, Jews and immigrants as a whole. Ultimately, Griffiths film provided a form of ammunition towards those who were not white, anglo-saxon protestants, thus allowing for the ideology of the KKK to become more populous and apparent throughout much of American Society. The group emphasised the notion of 100% Americanism, thus appeal to those who classed themselves as protestant fundamentalists as well as those who believed the traditional moral values reflected in Griffiths film were a key element of American society due to the overwhelming feeling of invasion and being inundated, stimulating a desire to restore the America they knew and loved.
Furthermore, it can be argued that the roots of the Klan were based in the small towns and communities of the Southern states of the Confederacy, thus proving a popular support base through states such as Tennessee and Alabama. The ideology of the party appealed to those who has gone against the abolition of slavery and the libration of blacks, which arose from a sense apparent within rural protestant america in order to act on the defensive before an influx of new immigrants was allowed into the country. This ideology, combined with the war, fed the growth of support for the Klan. The war engendered a form of nationalism, sparking hatred towards those to were not seen as true Americans. This appeal, and popularity was highlighted by the Klans popularity in 1921, which stimulated the development of a structure for the Klan due to the rapid growth in the number of members joining. The movement had 100,000 members, which were each pare of a Klavern, or branch, of the Klan. Furthermore, due to the fact that the KKK’s appeal was mainly sited in the Southern states, where the majority of...
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