Indiana had the largest and most politically significant state
organization in the massive national Ku Klux Klan movement of the
1920s. Using a unique set of Klan membership documents,
quantitative analysis, and a variety of other sources, Leonard
Moore provides the first comprehensive analysis of the social
characteristics and activities of the Indiana Klan membership and
thereby reveals the nature of the group's political support.
Challenging traditional assumptions about the Klan, Moore argues
that in Indiana the organization represented an extraordinarily
wide cross section of white Protestant society. More than 25
percent of native-born men in the state became official members.
Indeed, the Klan was many times larger than any of the veterans'
organizations that flourished in Indiana at the same time and was
even larger than the Methodist church, the state's leading
The Klan's enormous popularity, says Moore, cannot be explained
solely by the group's appeal to nativist sentiment and its
antagonism toward ethnic minorities. Rather, the Klan gained
wide-spread support in large part because of its response to
popular discontent with changing community relations and values,
problems of Prohibition enforcement, and growing social and
political domination by elites. Moreover, Moore shows that the Klan
was seen as an organization that could promote traditional comunity
values through social, civic, and political activities.
It was, he argues, a movement primarily concerned not simply with
persecuting ethnic minorities but with promoting the ability of
average citizens to influence the workings of soiciety and
government. Thus, Moore concludes, the Klan of the 1920s may not
have been as much a backward-looking aberration as it was an
important example of one of the powerful popular responses to
social conditions in twentieth-century America.