Ku Klux Klan auxiliaries

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Ku Klux Klan auxiliaries are organized groups that supplement, but do not directly integrate with the Ku Klux Klan. These auxiliaries include: The Women of the Ku Klux Klan, The Jr. Ku Klux Klan, The Tri-K Girls, the American Crusaders, The Royal Riders of the Red Robe, The Ku Klux balla, and the Klan's Blind Colored Man auxiliary.

The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan emerged in the 1930s and was officially branded as "the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." Its membership was restricted to American-born white, Protestant males over the age of 18. There are also organized Ku Klux Klan sanctioned auxiliary chapters across the Atlantic spread throughout European countries, in French-Canada, and Mexican cities.

Background[edit]

The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s existed during a Progressive Era, a period of great optimism in the ability of people to improve society. During this period, some believed that eugenics could improve society by increasing the desirable characteristics of the population thus reducing crime, poverty and other social problems.

The 1920s were also characterized by profound social changes that disturbed many of America's largely rural, white, Protestant population. They feared the potential power and influence of: African-Americans, southern Europeans, Roman Catholics, Jews, Bolshevists, and potential and leftist labor unions. The Klan saw itself as defending American culture against dangerous foreigners and their ideas. It carried the American flag rather than the Confederate flag that later followers adopted.

This group believed that it was defending traditional American values; however, it often violated some of those values. Drinking alcoholic beverages was suddenly disdained publicly as a symbol of southern Europeans, Catholics and Jews. They not only strongly supported national prohibition of alcohol, but actively enforced it, sometimes with violence.

Women[edit]

The Women of the Ku Klux Klan auxiliary was open to white, Protestant, American-born women "of good character" over the age of 18 who owed no allegiance to any foreign government or sect, such as Catholicism, Socialism, and Communism. It is estimated to have had over one million members, a quarter of whom lived in Indiana. Women made up almost half of the total Klan membership in Indiana, but in other states, they remained a tiny minority. These women were drawn to the Klan by claims that membership would ensure that white Protestant women would gain women's rights.

The founding of a women's auxiliary of the Klan was modeled on an earlier group of organized women calling themselves the Ladies of the Invisible Empire. Chapters were founded throughout the country with the Portland, Oregon chapter initiating more than one thousand women into their order in a single month in 1922. Initiation into these chapters required the women to detail their family, religious, and political background, as well as swear allegiance to Christianity and the principles of "pure Americanism". Unsure about the competition that the Ladies of the Invisible Empire and other women's organizations would create, the Klan promoted the idea of a single women's auxiliary, now known as the formal women of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan felt that by including women in their political agenda, women's suffrage could not only be safeguarded, but could also encourage development of other women's legal rights, while working to preserve white, Protestant supremacy. The women of the Klan were to be assistants to the Klansmen in their 100% American mission. Not all Klansmen were in favor of officially including women within their group. Some felt that allowing women to be involved in the political realm, including allowing them to vote, would foster masculine boldness and independence and depreciate the decency of womanhood. As a result, some women felt alienated, and in 1922 they wrote letters to the editor of The Fiery Cross protesting their exclusion from the Klan.[1] The wives of Klan members were not always happy staying at home with the children and wanted to be involved in the new white Protestant movement along with their husbands.

Women were recruited into the Women's Ku Klux Klan by hired female kleagles, who used the same campaigning methods as their male counterparts. Recruitment was conducted through social contact using personal, family, and work connections as well as through existing organizations. Open meetings were also held for the politically inactive and women currently not in Klan families. In four months, the Women's Ku Klux Klan had successfully doubled its previous membership, now bringing the total to 250,000 women. By November 1923, thirty-six states included female chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.[1]

There were a number of female Klan auxiliary organizations in the 1920s before the foundation of the official Women of the Ku Klux Klan. These groups included Kamelia, Ladies of the Invisible Empire, Ladies of the Invisible Eye, Dixie Protestant Women's League, Grand League of Protestant Women, White American Protestants, Queens of the Golden Mask, and Hooded Ladies of the Mystic Den[2]

Royals Riders of the Red Robe[edit]

The Royal Riders of the Red Robe was open to English-speaking people who were "Anglo-Saxon" but not technically native-born Americans. Many branches of the Royal Riders were separated only by title. Some would even share meetings, offices and perform similar rituals. The Royal Riders were even listed in the Klan's Pacific Northwest Domain Directory. The Royal Riders stretched beyond the Northwestern United States, and even had branches in British Columbia, Vancouver and Victoria.[3][4]

Other auxiliaries[edit]

The Junior Ku Klux Klan was for white, Protestant, American boys aged 12 to 18.

The Tri-K Girls was for white, Protestant, American-born girls aged 12 to 18.

The American Krusaders was open to white, Protestant, naturalized American citizens of foreign birth.

The Ku Klux Kiddies was for kids 3-11 and the Klan's Colored Man auxiliary was for African-American men.[5] Little is known about these auxiliaries.

In Oregon the Junior Order of Klansmen was for teenagers.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Blee, Kathleen M. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
  2. ^ Alan Axelrod International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders New York; Facts on File, inc 1997 pp.126144
  3. ^ "Non-Citizen Klan: Royal Riders of the Red Robe". The Washington State Klan in the 1920s. University of Washington. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Bevan, Dane (2004). "Portland KKK". Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Paul Gillette and Eugene Tillinger. Inside the Ku Klux Klan. NY: Pyramid, 1965, p. 41
  6. ^ Toy, Eckard. "Ku Klux Klan". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 22, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003
  • Gusfield, Joseph R. Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1963.