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A Kleagle is an officer of the Ku Klux Klan whose main role is to recruit new members.[1][2]

Incentives and recruitment strategies[edit]

Kleagle members were typically paid by commission and received a portion of each new member's initiation fee,[2] similar to multilevel marketing schemes in later years.[citation needed]

KKK members were encouraged to recruit others by framing economic, political and social structural changes in favor of and in line with KKK goals. These goals promoted "100 percent Americanism" and benefits for white native-born Protestants.[3] Informal ways Klansman recruited members included "with eligible co-workers and personal friends and try to enlist them".[4] Protestant teachers were also targeted for Klan membership.[4]

Bloc recruitment[edit]

Particularly in the 1920s, the Klan used a technique referred to as bloc recruitment. This term was coined by sociologist Anthony Oberschall.[5] Bloc recruitment refers to "the way in which social-movement organizers often recruit members and participants among groups of individuals already organized for some other purpose."[5] This strategy was advantageous to the Klan because it allowed them to recruit large groups of members from one source instead of being faced with the difficult task of recruiting individuals one by one. This strategy was also effective because it allowed the Klan to build upon the solidarity already in place from other organizations.

The KKK usually targeted fraternal lodges and Protestant church members for bloc recruitment. Protestant ministers were offered free membership and powerful Chaplain status within the KKK. Recruitment also involved recruitment drives that toured the United States.[6] Members of organizations like churches and fraternal lodges, were easily accessible by Kleagles or Klan recruiters because they were already socially active in public issues through their involvement in these organizations. These recruitment efforts were very successful, as such Klan membership soared. A primary recruitment leader during the 1920s, Edward Young Clark, reported that the Klan had gained 48,000 members in just three months.[3] Klan leaders took advantage of this success and used membership fees to finance large purchases such as the Klan Krest, a new home for Imperial Wizard Simmons (founder of the 2nd KKK).[6]


In addition to recruitment drives and alliances with fraternal lodges and Protestant churches, the Klan also used controlled instances of violence to attract members.[3] Violence was pronounced in areas of high KKK activity, intimidating opponents of the KKK and impressing future members. Violence was a method to demonstrate commitment to the Klan philosophy; however, its use was monitored closely by Klan Leaders to discourage government intervention and to "avoid a backlash from the general public that could damage recruiting efforts".[7]

Charity work and recruitment[edit]

To off-set violent acts, the KKK participated in charitable activities. In 1922, the Klan "contributed $25 each to the Volunteers of America and to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, an offer which Webster said proved that the Klan was not anti-black".[4] The charitable activities demonstrated that the KKK was committed to the welfare of the nation and also "served as an effective public relations device by creating a more favorable opinion of the secret order and attracting new members".[4]

Other recruitment factors[edit]

The allure of the "invisible empire" and its public anonymity were also appeals for potential Klansmen.[3] In addition to the empowerment of membership in an empire that was secretive, Klansmen also enjoyed a kin-ship bond from membership. The activities and events Klan members were impressive to future recruits as they included family picnics and other social events that built solidarity.[3]


King Kleagles[edit]

King Kleagle was the head of the Kleagles for a geographic area:[1][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Henry P. Fry. The Modern Ku Klux Klan. ISBN 1-110-51474-3. The 'Kleagle' or field man makes his reports to the 'King Kleagle' only. All communications sent to or received by him from the headquarters come through ...
  2. ^ a b Newton, Micheal; Anne, Judy (1991). The Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc.
  3. ^ a b c d e McVeigh, Rory (2009). The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right Wing Movements and National Politics. 32. University of Minnesota Press.
  4. ^ a b c d Goldberg, R. "The Ku Klux Klan in Madison, 1922–1927," The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 31–44, JSTOR, Wisconsin Historical Society,https://www.jstor.org/stable/4634926
  5. ^ a b McVeigh, Rory (2009). The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right Wing Movements and National Politics. 32. University of Minnesota Press. p. 34.
  6. ^ a b Quarles, C. (1999)The Ku Klux Klan and Related American Racialist and Anti-Semitic Organizations: A History and an Analysis, McFarland and Company Inc. Publishing
  7. ^ McVeigh, Rory (2009). The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right Wing Movements and National Politics. 32. University of Minnesota Press. p. 166.
  8. ^ Pianin, Eric. "A Senator's Shame: Byrd, in His New Book, Again Confronts Early Ties to KKK", Washington Post, 2005-06-19, pp. A01. Retrieved on 2006-10-03.(English)
  9. ^ Byrd, Robert C. "Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields", West Virginia University Press; 1st Edition (May 1, 2005) (English)
  10. ^ "Ku Klux Klan To Work With Officers Here: Head of the Oregon Organization Tells Peace Authorities of Plans; Says Stories of Violence Unfounded". Portland Telegram. August 2, 1921. Retrieved 2009-10-20. While stories were traveling over news wires yesterday telling of outside-of-the-law activities credited to the Ku Klux Klan in other parts of the United States, local peace officers met the head of the Oregon Klan and heard him declare that the klan stands for law and order. "Ninety-five per cent of the stories are false," insisted the King Kleagle, nameless officer at the head of the Ku Klux Klan in the state. City, county, and federal executives were in the group that met the King Kleagle and the Cyclops of Portland Klan No. 1. ... Although the King Kleagle said the organization intended to work with the regularly constituted authorities, he declared openly that in some matters where the law did not reach it would administer its own justice. "There are some cases, of course," he said. "In which we will have to take everything in our hands. Some crimes are not punishable under existing laws, but the criminals should be punished."
  11. ^ "Jersey Klan Head Sued by Ziegler Kin. Eloping Pastor's Parents Seek $1,596 Paid, They Say, to Avert Embezzlement Action. He Was Freed By Court. Couple Declare They Acted Without Advice. Minister and Wife Now in Virginia". New York Times. 1926-03-13. Retrieved 2008-06-14. Alleging that they paid $1,596.96 to Arthur H. Bell of Long Branch, King Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey, to save their son, Roscoe Carl Ziegler, from prosecution on a charge of embezzling Klan funds, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Ziegler of Milford, Pa., filed suit today in the Court of Chancery here to recover the money.
  12. ^ "Jersey King Kleagle Hurt by Auto". New York Times. September 9, 1922. Retrieved 2009-10-20. King Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan for the realm of New Jersey, is in the North Hudson Hospital in a critical condition from ...