Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Mark Pittenger, History

Second Advisor

Fred Anderson, History

Third Advisor

Rubén Donato, Education

Fourth Advisor

Marco De Martino, History

Abstract

During the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan reemerged in the United States. This second manifestation of the Invisible Empire spread from its traditional homeland in the South to almost every other region in the United States. It gained tremendous support through shrewd campaigning, using modern forms of advertising and by diagnosing local issues in communities and offering idealistic solutions. Racial superiority remained a part of the national platform, but other forms of intolerance came to the forefront. Anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, and nativism became segments of a larger “100 percent Americanism” ideology that the Klan hoped to spread throughout the country. Additionally, Klan leaders used a more conservative form of Protestantism to attract more moderately minded white men and women. Other issues that the Klan argued for were improved law and order, education reform, moral authoritarianism and civic engagement.

One area in Colorado, Boulder County, had significant Klan activity during the 1920s. The cities of Boulder, Lafayette and Longmont all had local Klan lodges. In different ways, the Invisible Empire’s ideology resonated with some inhabitants of the Boulder County. Unfortunately, this history has been relegated to a few paragraphs in local histories. This thesis analyzes the development of the Klan in each city and provides some preliminary reasons behind the Klan’s ascension and decline in the county.

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