By Nancy K. MacLean
On Thanksgiving evening, 1915, a small band of hooded males collected atop Stone Mountain, an impressive granite butte simply outdoor Atlanta. With a flag fluttering within the wind beside them, a Bible open to the 12th bankruptcy of Romans, and a flaming go to gentle the evening sky above, William Joseph Simmons and his disciples proclaimed themselves the hot Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, named for the notorious mystery order within which lots of their fathers had served after the Civil warfare. uncertain in their footing within the New South and eager for the provincial, patriarchal international of the previous, the boys of the second one Klan observed themselves as a military in education for a conflict among the races. They boasted they had bonded into ''an invisible phalanx...to stand as impregnable as a tower opposed to each encroachment upon the white man's liberty...in the white man's kingdom, lower than the white man's flag.''
Behind the masks of Chivalry brings the ''invisible phalanx'' into vast sunlight, culling from heritage the names, the lifestyles tales, and the riding passions of the nameless Klansmen underneath the white hoods and gowns. utilizing an strange and wealthy cache of inner Klan files from Athens, Georgia to anchor her observations, writer Nancy MacLean combines a fine-grained portrait of a neighborhood Klan international with a penetrating research of the second one Klan's rules and politics national. No different right-wing stream has ever accomplished as a lot strength because the Ku Klux Klan of the Twenties, and this booklet exhibits how and why it did. MacLean finds that the circulate mobilized its thousands of yank fans principally via campaigns waged over concerns that this day will be referred to as ''family values'': Prohibition violation, premarital intercourse, lewd video clips, anxieties approximately women's altering roles, and concerns over waning parental authority. Neither elites nor ''poor white trash,'' lots of the Klan rank and dossier have been married, middle-aged, and heart type. neighborhood conferences, or klonklaves, featured readings of the mins, plans for recruitment campaigns and Klan barbecues, and distribution of academic materials--Christ and different Klansmen was once one renowned tome. still, as mundane as lawsuits frequently have been on the neighborhood point, crusades over ''morals'' constantly operated within the carrier of the Klan's better time table of virulent racial hatred and middle-class revanchism. the lads who deplored intercourse between adolescents and sought to revive the facility of husbands and fathers have been additionally sworn to reclaim the ''white man's country,'' striving to take the vote from blacks and bar immigrants. evaluating the Klan to the eu fascist events that grew out of the crucible of the 1st global struggle, MacLean keeps that the amazing scope and frenzy of the stream mirrored much less on participants' strength inside of their groups than at the demanding situations to that strength posed by way of African american citizens, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and white girls and adolescence who didn't obey the Klan's canon of appropriaite behavior. In vigilante terror, the Klan's evening riders acted out their movement's brutal selection to keep up inherited hierarchies of race, category, and gender.
Compellingly readable and impeccably researched, The masks of Chivalry is an unforgettable research of a very important period in American heritage, and the social stipulations, cultural currents, and traditional males that outfitted this archetypal American reactionary flow.
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Extra resources for Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan
More important, fellow Klansmen were on hand in times of trouble. When a member fell sick, his brothers came to visit. When his family lost a loved one, they sent flowers and expressions of sympathy. And when he died, they stood ready to conduct a stately funeral. When crisis struck, Klansmen dug into their pockets for one another. When the bicycle of a local minister's son was stolen, for example, his fellow Klansmen voted to buy the boy a new one. After £. D. Todd lost his home in a fire, the chapter established a committee to inform his fellows of his needs.
The chapter also undertook a massive, successful voter-registration drive in 1919. In one month, they bought over a thousand new black voters to the polls in Atlanta— more than double the number who had taken part in some past elections. This campaign caused panic among leading whites, who hauled out their white employees to offset black votes. 18 The proportion of blacks involved in such outspoken protest was tiny; the challenge their undertakings posed to the status quo was great. Even more fearsome to racist whites than the NAACP were black veterans of the Great War.
13 But the bravest statement of black aspirations came in politics, as some pushed to open a second front in President Wilson's "war for democracy": below the Mason-Dixon line. 15 Contemporaries did not. " exclaimed a member of the Augusta NAACP. "Augusta is almost a different town. " In the three years after 1916, the number of NAACP branches in the South jumped from six to 155. Together, they amassed a dues-paying membership of over 42,000. For the first time, Southerners now dominated the organization's 28 Context and Motive rank and file.