Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Mark Pittenger

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Motter

Third Advisor

Matthew Gerber

Fourth Advisor

Nicholas Villanueva

Abstract

The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s far exceeded its traditional Southern base. Historians agree that much of the Klan’s efforts were put toward harassing European-born Catholics and Jews, as well as African Americans. However, Colorado was a unique setting for the Klan in terms of location and population. Colorado met World War One’s demands for both soldiers and goods with patriotic fervor. As there was an increase in demand for both, Colorado companies looked to Mexicans and Hispanos to fill in the gaps. Recruiters set out in Mexico and the Southwest to find people to work in industries previously dominated by European immigrants. As more and more started to immigrate to Colorado, Anglo residents raised complaints. The racial tensions were then coupled with those brought on by the first Red Scare of 1919 and 1920. The Red Scare created an environment ripe for nativist and one hundred percent American sentiments, and cemented an intense fear of “radical aliens” in Anglo-Coloradans’ minds. Nonetheless, Mexicans and Hispanos continued to be recruited and immigration to the state further increased. These communities were often associated with crime and faced heavy discrimination throughout the state.

By 1921, the Ku Klux Klan surfaced in Colorado under Grand Dragon John Galen Locke. Over the next four years, the Klan came to dominate the political scene throughout Colorado, as they promised reform and safety. Many of the Ku Klux Klan rallies and demonstrations were held in cities and towns with large Hispanic communities. This thesis analyzes the growth of Mexican and Hispano communities in Colorado in relation to the success of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s.

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