A call to citizenship: Anti-Klan activism in Missouri, 1921-1928
This dissertation examines the efforts of anti-Klan activists in Missouri to challenge the growth, recruitment, and political ambitions of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s. As a nation-wide organization, the Klan made major inroads in Missouri and built a substantial membership population that replicated similar growth in other states. However, as this dissertation argues, the Klan was unable to translate its recruiting success in Missouri into political power due to significant local opposition. These anti-Klan activists came from diverse backgrounds, and included newspaper editors, members of organizations such as the NAACP, UNIA, Urban League, Catholic Central Verein, Knights of Columbus, and B’nai B’rith, and prominent state politicians such as Governor Arthur Hyde, Senator James A. Reed, and Congressman Harry Hawes. At times, they tried to unite into an interracial, interdenominational, and bipartisan Klan-fighting organization; yet, personal quarrels and internal differences over how best to challenge the hooded order splintered any hope of a singular coalition. Nevertheless, anti-Klan activists did experience some success in using their power in the press, the pulpit, and the polls to stymie the growth of the Klan’s Invisible Empire in the state.