Inside the Klavern: The Secret History of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s / Edition 1

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Inside the Klavern is an annotated collection of the minutes of a thriving Ku Klux Klan in La Grande, Oregon, between 1922 and 1924. The most complete set of Klan minutes ever uncovered, these documents illustrate the inner workings of a Klan chapter of more than three hundred members at a time when the national membership reached into the millions and the Invisible Empire was at the peak of its power. Through an extensive introduction and conclusion as well as brief notes previewing each installment of the minutes, David A. Horowitz places these unique documents in historical perspective.

The La Grande minutes demonstrate Klan hostility to Roman Catholics, Jews, blacks, and "hyphenated" Americans. But they also explain how the chapter exercised requirements for admission, how officers were selected, and how Klansmen encountered difficulties enforcing the moral standards of their order. Because the Klan kligrapp (recording secretary) Harold R. Fosner recorded not only the official proceedings but also volunteered extemporaneous comments and gossip, readers get a genuine feeling for what it was like to attend the meetings. Through his own obvious excitement and commitment to the cause, Fosner re-creates the flavor, tone, and atmosphere of these meetings: "Tis beyond my power of expression to relate the harmony and fellowship which reigned supreme. . . . Suffice to say that these were the golden moments of our lives."

His evaluation of Klan propaganda, too, is telling: "The weekly newsletter from Atlanta, Georgia, contained a little book, the official message of our emperor, one Col. William Joseph Simmons, read before the most noble band of men ever assembled and for the noblest cause in the world. To my firm belief this book is the leading masterpiece of our day and age."

Horowitz concludes that "although it is tempting to judge Jazz Age Klansmen by the standards of later generations, the story provided by the minutes is a complex one—a chronicle of both compassion and complicity in cruelty, of positive social accomplishment and arbitrary and dysfunctional divisiveness."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ably edited and annotated by Professor David Horowitz of Portland State University, Inside the Klavern takes us inside an Oregon chapter of the Ku Klux Klan during 1922–1924, when that organization was at the height of its political strength. This collection of detailed and informative weekly minutes for ‘Klan No. 14, Realm of Oregon” provides an intimate look at the activities, attitudes, and agendas of Klansmen in the small railroad city of La Grande. In doing so, Inside the Klavern—by far the most revealing of the few 1920s KKK records available—makes an exceptional contribution to our understanding of the Invisible Empire. . . . Horowitz has done us a service with his helpful and judicious editing; the documents speak for themselves. Inside the Klavern sheds much-needed light on an important facet of Oregon history, and it will undoubtedly become a touchstone in future Klan studies nationwide.”Oregon Historical Quarterly

"This important collection presents extremely rare records that shed light on one of the most notorious hate groups in American history. David Horowitz's superb analysis of the Klan's membership and activities makes the volume essential reading for anyone who is interested in the sources of racial and religious intolerance in the 1920s."—Shawn Lay, author of Hooded Knights on the Niagara: The Ku Klux Klan in Buffalo, New York

"This book is a unique contribution to the scholarship on the massive Ku Klux Klan movement of the 1920s. These minutes of one klavern in a state where the Klan flourished do a great deal to demystify the Klan and explain its extraordinary, often complex appeal. Inside the Klavern is destined to become a standard reference for anyone seeking to understand one of the most popular and powerful social movements in twentieth-century American history."—Leonard J. Moore, author of Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921–1928

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809322480
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,420,599
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David A. Horowitz is a professor of history at Portland State University. His books include Beyond Left and Right: Insurgency and the Establishment and the coauthored volume (with Peter Carroll), On the Edge: The U.S. in the 20th Century.

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Table of Contents

Map: Locations of Ku Klux Klan Activity Described in the La Grande Minutes
Introduction: Setting the Context 1
The Minutes 15
Conclusion: The Meaning of the La Grande Minutes 142
Notes 153
Index 171
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