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The 20th Century Ku Klux
Klan in Alabama

1915 "Second Klan" born atop Stone Mountain, Georgia, on Thanksgiving night after a nearby showing of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation—a silent-picture romanticization of the Reconstruction Klan.

1915-1920 Revised KKK grows slowly under the leadership of Harpersville, Alabama, native and former Methodist minister, the Rev. William Joseph Simmons.

1921-1925 KKK experiences phenomenal growth as a national political, social, fraternal, and terrorist organization after utilizing publicity from a New York World exposť series, congressional investigations, and state-of-the-art marketing techniques of E. Y. Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler. Membership peaks around 1924 at 4-6 million nationally, and 115,000 in Alabama.

1926 Under leadership of James W. Esdale and Horace Wilkinson, Klan plays pivotal role in electing members to the Alabama governorship, the U.S. Senate, and the attorney general's office in state elections.

1927 Feud between Klan political machine and the temporarily unseated Big Mule/Black Belt alliance reaches climax as Montgomery Advertiser editor Grover C. Hall wins Pulitzer Prize for editorial attacks on the KKK, and former Klansman and attorney general Charlie McCall wins historic flogging verdicts against seven Blount County Knights.

1928-1929 Klan plays leading role in 1928 Hoovercrat "bolt" from Democratic party against Catholic presidential candidate Al Smith of New York. Smith narrowly wins in Alabama, thanks to intense efforts of planter-industrialist coalition, but U.S. Senator J. Thomas Heflin and gubernatorial hopeful Hugh Locke are both expelled from the Alabama state Democratic party for parts played in the Klan-led revolt. The 1929 expulsion marks the decline of the second KKK.

1930-1955 Smaller, more militant, KKK survives in Alabama through Great Depression and war years. Liberals, trade unionists, Jews, Communists, and blacks are terrorized throughout the 1930s, especially for any attempts at biracial cooperation. Forties and early Fifties dominated by Klan concerns with increasing black attempts to vote and with Twenties-like enforcement of morality.