Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan

In the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan had more than two million members nationwide and was at the peak of its power and influence, Chicago had the largest membership (50,000) of any metropolitan region in the United States. At the time, the “Invisible Empire” was known for anti-Catholicism as much as for white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and Chicago had an abundance of all three targets. The Chicago Klan drew its primary support from lower-echelon white-collar workers, small businessmen, and semiskilled laborers, all of whom resented the growing influence of persons who did not meet the Klan's definition of “one hundred percent American.” Beginning in 1921, various Kleagles (recruiters) set up more than 20 Klaverns (chapters) in the Chicago region, and the organization published a local periodical called Dawn: A Journal for True American Patriots.

The secret order's demise in Chicago was largely the result of the work of the American Unity League, a mostly Roman Catholic organization which published a weekly newspaper, Tolerance, in 1922 and 1923 that printed the names, addresses, and occupations of thousands of Chicago-area Klansmen. The tactic worked, and by 1925 the Ku Klux Klan had almost disappeared from Chicago.

Jackson, Kenneth T. The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915–1930. 1967.