WAW chases KKK

This cartoon by Rollin Kirby of The New York World illustrates William Allen White's crusade against the Ku Klux Klan.

Editor’s Note: Racial tension reached the forefront of American consciousness with the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in connection to the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Unfortunately, race relations in this country have a long, complex and often-brutal history. The Lyon County Historical archives researched Emporia Gazette Editor William Allen White’s fight against the Ku Klux Klan to remove them from Kansas.

With the second Knoblock trial going on in Emporia during 1926, William Allen White was forced once again to face the influence of the Ku Klux Klan on residents of this part of Kansas. The first person arrested for the Coffey County murder of Florence Knoblock had been a black man, Sherman Stevens, nicknamed variously “Blackie” or “Deacon.” Later, when no definitive evidence could link Stevens to the murder, the husband, John Knoblock, was accused and brought to trial.

In Knoblock’s testimony in his defense, he admitted that the day of his wife’s death, her aunt had suggested that perhaps the black man had murdered Florence. Knoblock remembered that his wife had given Stevens apples and once fixed strawberries for him. A kindness, but certainly not a motive for murder.

Regardless, Knoblock joined his relatives and some neighbors on an extended search for Stevens, covering three counties the night and next day after the murder. They traveled to Hartford after hearing the rumor that three black men had been arrested there. They also went to Osage City, Lyndon, Strawn and Lebo in hopes of tracking down Stevens.

Why? The prevalent thinking of the day perpetrated by the Klan and other fraternal organizations reflected suspicion of blacks and other minorities. When Knoblock did see Stevens later after his apprehension, Stevens didn’t ask why Knoblock thought he killed Florence, and Knoblock didn’t tell him he thought he was responsible. Both men understood. The two men did speak pleasantly, though.

Forty-six days later, when Stevens was released, he had entirely expected to be strung up. The sheriff’s admonition that he keep in touch left a bitter taste. “Free ain’t free when you was a Negro,” Diana Staresinic-Deane wrote in her account of the murder in her recently published book “Shadow on the Hill.”

White must have been watching it all with interest, too. He had run for governor in 1924 in an attempt to expose the Klan’s prejudices. His son Bill was now covering the Knoblock story for The Gazette. With a hung jury in the first Burlington trial, the second trial had been moved to Emporia in hopes that a more favorable venue would draw a less prejudiced jury.

What had promoted the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas during the 1920s? The original Klan was founded in 1865 by six Confederate army officers in Tennessee. When it was discovered that their costumes had the unexpected result of scaring Negroes into orderly submissive behavior, the Klan began to oppose reconstruction policies following the Civil War. Violent acts against blacks occurred throughout the South until laws passed by Congress in 1870-71 curbed Klan activity. Gradually, the Klan faded.

The new Klan, the “reincarnated Klan,” initiated its first members around a fiery cross on the top of Stone Mountain near Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day of 1915. This group designated its enemies as not only blacks, but also Catholics, Jews, radicals, immigrants, bootleggers, immoral women, unpatriotic citizens, habitual criminals, modernist theologians and assorted other types. This new Klan became much larger than the original group and was more concentrated in rural states.

Perhaps it was a response to the changes American society was facing with a rapidly growing immigrant population. Members saw morals and attitudes changing and viewed these changes as a threat to the status quo. The Klan exploited these fears and apprehensions toward changes in society, arguing that they stood for Protestant, Fundamental Christianity, old-fashioned morality and patriotism.

As a well-organized Georgia organization, the Klan was chartered as a nonprofit eleemosynary (charity) group. Using klectokens (a subscription fee), members could order robes and other paraphernalia, stationary, jewelry, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, circulars and other printed matter from their Georgia headquarters.

In Kansas, Gov. Henry J. Allen was a bitter enemy of the “Invisible Empire” and was determined to oust the organization if it should establish itself in the state. Regardless of his intentions, Allen was notified in July 1921 that kleagles (officers of the Klan) were moving northward from Texas and Oklahoma into southern Kansas. The first organizer of the Klan in Emporia, Fred Abshire, appeared that very month. He tried to get Emporians to join at $10 each. Immediately, William Allen White began a series of editorials against the Klan. In addition, Sheriff Charles Gibson spoke out against the organization, saying he would not stand for its formation in this county.

By April 1922, however, Emporia interest was developing, particularly with anti-black and anti-Catholic sentiment. Fraternal organizations were the target for recruitment with some success; however, many ex-servicemen told the organizer to “go where the fruit buds never freeze.” Nevertheless, there were those who would join the Klan simply to defy the outspoken newspaper editor.

In May 1922, the Klan organizer Abshire appeared before the Emporia Ministerial Association, defending the Klan and claiming they upheld law and order, opposed Catholicism and recruited primarily among fraternal organizations. He assured that the mask was worn only in rituals, parades and funerals. He stated, at that time, that there were about 150 members in Emporia.

Editor White also spoke to the organization, venting his opposition to the Klan. The following week, the ministerial association passed a resolution condemning the group in Emporia. Despite the stand taken by White and the ministers, the local Klan continued to grow in membership. A second newspaper in Emporia, titled The Emporia Times, cooperated with the local Klan by publishing a membership coupon in June 1922.

Gov. Allen’s decision to seek the KKK’s ouster originated in the activities of the Klan regarding a strike of railway shop crafts workers in Arkansas City.

In July, 71 percent of the shop craftsmen in Kansas had joined a national strike against railroads. Many of those who chose not to strike were black. Realizing that the Klan was playing up to the interests of white Protestant strikers, Allen became aroused when the Klan planned a parade on July 7 in Arkansas City. Though he did not admit it at the time, Allen felt such a parade would menace the peace of the community, especially during the strike, as he believed a main purpose of the parade was to frighten black workers who were not on strike. He anticipated other parades would follow, giving the Klan impetus to build its activities across the state.

When the sheriff of Cowley County informed the local Klan that the governor would employ troops to stop the parade, the parade was called off. On July 8, Allen issued a proclamation prohibiting the appearance on Kansas streets of anyone wearing a mask, arguing that large groups of masked men assembled for parading and so-called ceremonies would contribute to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, particularly in communities where “industrial quarrels” were in progress.

Allen may have been partially responsible for the support the shop craftsmen were giving the Invisible Empire because he himself had been a prime advocate for the Kansas Industrial Court. Industrial court law, growing out of a coal-mining strike of 1919, recognized the right of an individual or group acting “as a result of mutual-interest consultations” to quit work, but denied the right to picket for the purpose of suspending the operation of “essential” industries such as the railroad. It could be that the craftsmen, when denied the right to picket, turned to the KKK, believing that it could be useful in persuading non-striking workers to join the majority.

When unions asked friendly merchants to place placards in their windows supporting the strike, Allen ordered that the signs be taken down. Klans in Ark City and Wellington responded with a letter to the governor showing support of the strikers and advising him to reform.

When subsequent reports revealed that tar and feathering had been threatened to certain individuals, Allen became determined that the group must be eradicated from the state. Regardless of Gov. Allen’s attempts to exclude the Klan from Kansas, it had already entered the 1922 primaries. Allen’s term in office expired that year, and Democrat Jonathan Davis became the next governor of Kansas.

Here in Emporia, Klan organizer Abshire proclaimed that the organization had done more in 30 days to clean up the town than any other group had done in 20 years. The Klan took a strong stand in favor of prohibition, providing county prohibition officers with evidence for arrests, much of which was totally false. Nevertheless, it presented a positive view that the Klan was aiding prohibition officers. It also made a donation to Wesley Hospital in Wichita and helped a local family that was hungry and cold. In a letter to The Gazette, recipient H.W. Thorp thanked the Klan for its help. According to Abshire, Lyon County membership by September 1922 stood near 1,200 men.

That September, the governor was notified that some Arkansas City residents had been threatened with tar and feathers for alleged offenses. In October, Liberty Mayor Theodore Schierlman, a Catholic, had refused to allow the Klan to use a building he owned for its meeting. A group of masked men, believed to be Klansmen, seized and horsewhipped him.

Gov. Allen asserted in a speech in Coffeyville two weeks later, the Ku Klux Klan had “introduced into Kansas the greatest curse that comes to civilized people, the curse that rises out of unrestrained passions of men governed by religious intolerance and racial hatred.” He promised that the Klan would be expelled from the state. Ouster proceedings against the Ku Klux Klan were filed with the Kansas Supreme Court by the attorney general less than a month later.

The Lyon County News published an extensive article Feb. 13, 1923, explaining the Klan’s answer to the state’s suit being prosecuted by the state supreme court. The answer maintained that the Klan was a Georgia corporation with no Kansas charter, no offices or property in Kansas and insisted that none of its agents or members were guilty of violating any Kansas law. Although seven men were being charged by the attorney general with being officers of the state Klan, Klan attorneys denied that they were ever members. The answer further stated that the Klan was a “social, secret, benevolent and eleemosynary organization, that it opposed mob violence and activities, intimidation or threats, believed in enforcement of the law by constituted authorities, and in highest allegiance to the government of the United States.”

Klan lawyers attached the Georgia charter that re-emphasized that the principles of the organization espoused loyalty to the United States with the Declaration of Independence as its political creed. It proclaimed the doctrines of religious freedom, freedom of speech and of the press as essential rights and beliefs. It magnified the Bible as the basis of the American constitution, as the source of “our laws, the sheet anchor of our liberty, the most practical guide of conduct, and the source of all true wisdom.”

The Lyon County News acknowledged that whether a reader approved of the Klan, was opposed to it or did not know enough to be either for or against it, nevertheless, readers were interested in this suit brought by former Gov. Allen and former Attorney General Hopkins.

Circulating in Emporia in February 1923 were copies of The Jayhawker American, a weekly newspaper favorable to the Klan, printed in Newton. This publication boasted a current membership of the national Klan as numbering 2 million, growing at the rate of 10,000 a week. The Jayhawker American took great pains to quote a Catholic periodical, Our Sunday Visitor, explaining Catholic position regarding church and state. According to this newspaper, Pope “Pius IX condemned the proposition that the Church and State must be separate, and this was construed to mean that Church and State must be united.” The Jayhawker American appeared to be trying to incite anti-Catholic sentiments in proving that Catholic teaching misunderstood a basic tenet of the second amendment.

Their interpretation found some reinforcement in a quote from President Harding uttered March 24, 1922: “In spite of our complete divorcement of Church and State, quite in harmony with our religious freedom, there is an important relationship between Church and Nation, because no nation can prosper, no nation can survive, if it forgets Almighty God.” The Klan’s strong Protestant bent was reflected in The Jayhawker American’s quotes from the Catholic magazine that, “Elsewhere in this issue we report a proposal to line up all the protestant churches in an effort to make Protestant church affiliation the test of one’s Americanism and fitness for office.” But then, in a tongue-in-cheek aside, the Catholic publication admitted that this would be a tendency towards union between the state and Protestantism.

At the end of their lengthy article, The Jayhawker American finally quoted the Catholic Our Sunday Visitor as asserting, “We Catholics look upon these Constitutional requirements as practically the best that can be made, where the Catholic faith has never been the religion of the whole nation; and even if the conditions were reversed, and the nations were 99 percent Catholic, we Catholics would be compelled by no tenet of the Catholic religion, by no utterance of the Sovereign Pontiffs, to alter the Constitution. We would consider it wrong to violate the religious liberty, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of worship of even a small minority of our fellow citizens.” Both The Lyon County News, from where columns for this article came, and The Jayhawker American that was quoting Our Sunday Visitor appeared to be trying to cover all sides of the story.

In May 1923, posters appeared all over Emporia and throughout the county advertising a big outdoor initiation to be held by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. This ceremony was to be held on the aviation field two miles west of town on 12th Avenue (perhaps near the Americus Road). “These Klansmen came not on horseback, with rider and horse gowned, stealing in after night in secret. They began coming in great numbers by daylight, in automobiles, and in many cases their families came with them. From early evening, automobiles trickled, then streamed, into the field, until there were hundreds of them. As darkness fell and the glow from the electric cross lighted up the surrounding country, automobile lights twinkled along the road for an hour or more in a steady stream until they filled the road along the edge of the field where the Klan ceremonies were to be held,” wrote The Emporia Times in its May 11, 1923, printing.

According to the newspaper’s estimates, 1,500 cars parked three deep formed the large hollow square, keeping spectators at a distance from the ceremonial work. Only a dozen men wore hoods and gowns, the guards and degree team of the order. Finally, a large number of candidates marched forward for initiation, following the degree team. They proceeded to a place where the shadow of the electric cross widened out, and there the new members took their oath of membership. As the ceremonies advanced, a huge wooden cross burst into flames and red lights were burned.

Most could not see or hear what was happening inside the square of cars, but many would have been excited at the sight of such a huge crowd. Many left following the ceremony to escape the traffic jam, but a large number stayed to hear the national speaker. He claimed the right for the group to organize secretly with restricted membership. He reminded that there were more than 80 secret organizations then in the United States, many of which were contingent on foreign nationality or religious belief. He pointed out the rise of foreign immigration with the population of the country doubling since 1880.

In a particularly wry reflection, he stated that it took 21 years to grow a native-born American citizen, but the average immigrant who came to the United States after he was 14 years of age was allowed to become a citizen in only seven years. He restated the Klan’s basic tenets: white supremacy, belief in the Christian religion, protection of pure womanhood, loyalty to the constitution of the United States, sovereignty of state’s rights. He assured that the purpose of the Klan was benevolent.

With an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in attendance, the crowd maintained perfect behavior. Applause greeted the procession of the candidates onto the field, and a spirit of friendliness prevailed. According to the reporter, all who attended were deeply interested in the ceremony. Emporia politics of 1923 saw the entrance of Klan-supported Earl Hawkins running for mayor against Gazette-supported Jason Austin. Hawkins defeated Austin by a margin of 337 votes. Hawkins soon found himself involved with several hearings involving the Klan. He insisted he didn’t know the names of local Klan officers and that he was not a Klan member, but he did admit to taking an oath from Klan organizer Abshire. In a story printed in The Emporia Gazette, Hawkins related that he did not feel the Klan received fair treatment. He felt the Klan would benefit from more lectures giving a better understanding of the motives of the group. The Emporia board of education then granted permission to the local Klan to use the high school auditorium for a free lecture at the usual rental fee of $25.

A Ku Klux Klan convention was held at Emporia’s Broadview Hotel in November 1923. The hotel was so packed with two groups, the Klansmen and the members of an Italian musical organization, that they even had to turn away other guests.

William Allen White, in an attempt to disclose names, sent a reporter to copy the names on the guest register. When the management discovered the reporter at work, they locked the book and threw the reporter out of the building. White retaliated by explaining that if they were denied the names, the hotel would never benefit from advertising in the Gazette again.

Since the Klan was a secret organization, wearing robes and hoods and never revealing names, this was White’s opportunity to expose many promising young political crooks wrangling power through the Klan. White’s strategy was to simply print a few lines telling that the Grand Konklave of the Ku Klux Klan and the Italian musicians had packed the hotel, leaving room for no other guests, and the following list of persons had registered. Anyone could then cross off the Italian names and read the list of leading Kansas Klansmen. It was his opportunity to blast the careers of those hiding behind their secret identity.

By the end of 1923, there appeared to be some hope in Emporia. According to White, “Emporia’s Kluxer mayor has appointed a Catholic chief of police — and a dandy one, too, and a colored man assistant chief, and he’s a daisy. The world is in pretty bad shape. The Emporia end of it is all to the good.”

White also skirmished with an anonymous letter to the editor telling of a Klan gift to a local Baptist church and asking how much The Gazette had donated. White replied that The Gazette had donated 66 inches of news space in the paper, and 528 lines of advertising space that would have cost the church $63.36, 4 1/2 times more than the Kluxers gave, “and we didn’t have to pull out our shirttail to do it.”

In early 1924, reports spread that the Emporia Klan was split, with members wondering where their money was being spent. Nevertheless, the Klan entered numerous candidates in the elections that year. After spreading gray slips of paper with a list of the Klan’s candidates, the August primary saw nine Klan candidates winning out of a group of 19. Of the nine who won, four had run unopposed.

Gubernatorial candidates for 1924 Ben Paulen, Republican, and Jonathan Davis, Democrat, each received Klan endorsement. Because neither candidate disclaimed Klan association, White could sit by no longer.

In support of his dear friend, retired Gov. Allen, White decided to enter the race. When asked why he was running, he explained, “I want to be governor to free Kansas from the disgrace of the Ku Klux Klan. And I want to offer Kansans afraid of the Klan and ashamed of that disgrace, a candidate who shares their fear and shame.”

Because he was not in the race to become elected, White made no effort to create a true political organization. His goal was to publicize a cause. To this end, his staff consisted only of Calvin Lambert as his press agent and son Bill White as chauffeur.

His short six-week campaign was followed by national press that delighted in his colorful Klan descriptions. Parodying the various names used by the Klan’s Imperial Wizards, White wrote about the cow-pasture edicts of a handful of cheap ignorant “genii, whangdoodles, wizards, willopsies-wallopsies, shirt-tail rangers” who were scaring the life out of Kansas politicians. As a proud Kansan all his life, the very thought that Kansas should have a government beholden to a “hooded gang of masked fanatics, ignorant and tyrannical in their ruthless oppression” called White to stand up against the Klan’s practice of terror and force. Instead, he determined to walk the path of duty in going into the race. He asked all fellow Kansans to stand with him for free government and righteous guarantees of the constitution to all citizens.

In an Oct. 1, 1924, speech in Pittsburg, White told his audience that Davis, the present governor, received much help from the KKK and thousands of labor votes when he promised to reduce taxes and abolish the industrial court, but he had utterly failed, achieving neither goal.

White revealed that the Klan had sent its attorney, who also represented Associated Industries, out on the stump to defend the KKK and to attack the child labor amendment to the constitution. The next week, Ben Paulen, the Republican candidate, encouraged voters who could not vote for him to go ahead and vote for Democratic Gov. Davis. They were both endorsed by the KKK, and White said, they were both false faces for the Associated Industries in Kansas that had been fighting legislation to protect men, women and children laborers for a dozen years. It was truly a bi-partisan conspiracy to take Kansas out of the hands of the people, and put it into the hands of those who would exploit the people, White felt.

White promised, “If I am elected, no man shall go to jail under the industrial court law as it now stands for calling a strike or going out on strike. I further promise that I shall ask the Legislature to repeal the law and rewrite a law which will affect both sides equally but will protect absolutely the right of free speech, free assemblage and free dissemination of news and information about any industrial dispute in any orderly and legal way.” White maintained that both candidates were trying to exploit Kansas. “They are trying to make Kansas read ‘Klansas.’” While the Klan rules, he wrote, “the sinister forces that control the Klan will rob the people. Only by breaking loose from both gubernatorial puppets of the Klan can the people of Kansas save their state from the impending bipartisan disgrace.”

Already Oregon was under Klan domination. It was reaching for control in Indiana and Colorado. Kansas might be next, White realized. The purpose of his six-week campaign was to keep the topic before the people constantly, he said. He did not want to win the race, but he did want to remove from the small towns of Kansas the curse of silence the Klan had held over the people. Never again should a group of hooded men feel the power to interrupt a Neosho Rapids church service with their call to membership.

Finally, in a state notorious for its party loyalty, around a quarter of the electors jumped their tickets to vote for the independent White. They were registering their newfound contempt for the “thriving and profitable hate-factory and bigatorium” that seemed to have taken over their old parties. White wrote, “With all my heart I desired to protest against the un-American influence of the Klan in politics. I am proud I could serve those who felt as I feel.”

David Hinshaw quoted White in his biography, A Man from Kansas: The Story of William Allen White: “As to the immediate result, it is unimportant. The seed is sown. The fight must be fought out. It will come up next year in the struggle for nomination. Then we shall finish what we started. The Republican Party must not be mortgaged to the Ku Klux Klan. The war on that crowd is only well begun.”

White was right. In January 1925, with KKK supporters in control of the state Senate and a large number of seats in the House of Representatives, the Invisible Empire turned to the state Legislature to compel the charter board to grant the KKK a charter in Kansas. The bill would have taken away the board’s powers of investigation and discretion in granting charters to organizations. This bill was openly debated in the Senate and passed. It remained for the House to narrowly defeat the bill after vigorous debate.

With the state Legislature unable to assist the Klan, an appeal was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, an action that would take more than two years. In the meantime, the Klan continued to try to operate in Kansas. The Klan again filed a petition with the charter board to continue to conduct business in the state. That group, too, turned down the Klan’s request, citing that it stirred up religious hatred and racial prejudice, creating dissension, discord and ill feelings in every community of the state. To give the Klan recognition while its appeal was pending before the Supreme Court was contrary to public policy.

Less than a month after the conclusion of the second Knoblock trial in Emporia, White was to witness one more large display of Klan power in a huge parade through downtown June 23, 1926. More than 6,000 men and women were registered for the event with an estimated 4,000 actually marching, according to The Emporia Times. The Emporia Gazette counted exactly 1,229 masked participants, several horses and a group of horseback riders who were not masked.

After being notified of the planned parade, Mayor Oliver Atherton agreed as long as no masks were worn for the event, as per city ordinance. When Klansmen objected, the mayor appealed to the Kansas Attorney General Griffith who brought an injunction against the Klan. At the same time, city Police Chief Charles Gibson sought to enforce a law regulating parades. Both local officials had their appeals overridden by District Judge I.T. Richardson, who blocked the attorney general’s attempt to deliver an injunction. He then issued a restraining order forbidding city and county officers from interfering with the parade.

In the end, nearly everybody in Emporia turned out for the parade that Wednesday night. The parade moved north on Merchant Street to 12th, then east to Commercial and south to Fourth Avenue. Participants marched four abreast, most in full regalia, for nearly a mile’s length. The parade was orderly and no rioting took place, probably because of the patrolmen stationed all along the streets. There was much hand-clapping as various units marched past. Klans from all the nearby towns were present along with delegations from Great Bend, Hutchinson, Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City, Junction City, Independence, Fort Scott, Eureka, Osage City and other cities across the state.

Women participated in many of the activities of the day, including women’s marching units. They also helped at the Wigwam, registering the many participants. The Wigwam was a building at 411 Merchant used by many secret societies. Some participants, following the parade, returned there to sign out.

A cross, lighted by electricity, was erected in the northeast corner of Fremont Park. Most marchers proceeded there, where they took off their regalia and then gathered around the bandstand to listen to a 65-minute talk delivered by preacher Dr. Floyd John Evans of Junction City. Prior to the beginning of his talk, the crowd sang two stanzas of “America.” This was the last big Klan gathering in Emporia.

The final effort made by the Klan in Kansas was to again try to secure pro-Klan nominees for attorney general and secretary of state in the 1926 primaries. William Allen White wrote, “The Ku Klux Klan has made its own issues in Kansas. When it endorsed Max Anderson as the Ku Klux candidate for attorney general and Ewing Herbert as the Ku Klux candidate for secretary of state, it endorsed the two men whose duty it is to vote yes or no on granting the Klu Klux Klan a charter in Kansas.” Kansans saw through this tactic and nominated anti-Klan candidates.

In February 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the KKK’s appeal on the grounds that a question of federal law was not involved in the ouster suit. All legal grounds were exhausted, and the KKK was legally ousted from Kansas. The New York Times noted that month, “Everywhere it shows signs of dissolution; nowhere are there indications of gain.”

Charles William Sloane, Jr. wrote in the Kansas Historical Quarterly in autumn 1974, numerous causes for the decline of the Klan. “It could not restore the primacy of the Bible in the public schools, limit the activities of minority groups, nor halt the social changes of the 1920s. Also, it simply could not keep its members interested in doing little more than ‘repeating an eight-page ritual four times a month and passively awaiting election day.’ Its terrorist activities and internal quarrels over financial matters affected its decline in other states as in Emporia.

“Most Kansas Klansmen were decent, hard-working and patriotic, if narrow-minded; only a lunatic fringe caused thousands to leave the Imperial Empire. Those who threatened, boycotted, tarred and feathered, hog-tied, mutilated and occasionally murdered spoiled it for everyone else.”

Gov. Allen had predicted a grim future if the Klan had succeeded in Kansas in a speech he made as early as October 28, 1922. “We allow the beginning of a feud that is racial and religious, we justify the establishment of a quarrel that leads to group formation, make civil war upon each other in the name of racial and religious bigotry. We teach to our young men and young women the dangerous doctrine that violence and hatred are justifiable, that mob law is consistent with freedom, that lawlessness is to be met by lawlessness, and that self appointed guardians of other people’s rights may set themselves above the sacred duty of constitutional authority.”

How foresighted he was.

In a democracy, he said, “men…must have a love of liberty, and this love must extend to the liberty of others.” His dear friend William Allen White took this message on the road to all corners of the state in his six-week campaign in 1924.

In consulting the Encyclopedia Britannica, Hinshaw found that the Klan had been very successful in controlling local politicians in the election of 1924, but by 1928 its power had waned. “This rapid disintegration is difficult to account for… .”

To Hinshaw, the real reason the Klan disintegrated “was that a local editor of a small-town Kansas newspaper had used his rich gifts and his rare wit to laugh it off the political map — off the earth.”


“The Ku Klux Klan in Eastern Kansas during the 1920s” by Lila Lee Jones, a graduate study printed by Emporia State Research Studies, Winter, 1975.

“The Autobiography of William Allen White: The Last Two Decades” by W.L. White, 1946.

“A Man from Kansas: The Story of William Allen White” by David Hinshaw, 1945.

Kansas Historical Quarterly: “Kansas Battles the Invisible Empire: The Legal Ouster of the KKK from Kansas, 1922-27” by Charles William Sloane Jr., autumn 1974.

The Emporia Gazette, various articles and editorials, 1922-27.

The Emporia Times, 1920-22.

The Lyon County News and The Emporia Times, September 1922 to February 1923.

The Lyon County News, February 1923 to April 1923.

The Emporia Times, May 1923 to March 1925.

The Emporia-Lyon County Times, 1925-27.

“Shadow on the Hill” by Diana Staresinic-Deane, 2013.

(1) comment


What an insult to WAW and to good people of Kansas when the Klan wanted to march in a Salina parade several years ago.

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