Klansman's Manual (1925)
Excerpted from the
Electronic Text at archived at
for History and New Media.
The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s directed its hostility to immigrants and Roman Catholics as well as African Americans. Also, some of its appeal was the fraternalism, philanthropy, and ritualism that it shared with more mainstream organizations like the Masons. Millions of white Protestant Americans joined -- including many elected officials and community leaders.
III. Its Nature
1. Patriotic. One of the paramount purposes of this order is to "exemplify a pure patriotism toward our country." Every Klansman is taught from the beginning of his connection with the movement that it is his duty "to be patriotic toward our country."
2. Military. This characteristic feature applies to its form of organization and its method of operations. It is so organized on a military plan that the whole power of the whole order, or of any part of it, may be used in quick, united action for the execution of the purposes of the order.
3. Benevolent. This means that the movement is also committed to a program of sacrificial service for the benefit of others. As a benevolent institution, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan must give itself to the task of relieving and helping the suffering and distressed, the unfortunate and oppressed.
4. Ritualistic. In common with other orders, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan confers ritualistic degrees and obligations, and commits its grips, signs, words, and other secret work to those persons who so meet its requirements as to find membership in the order. The ritualistic devices become the ceremonial ties that bind Klansmen to one another.
5. Social. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan endeavors to unite in companionable relationship and congenial association those men who possess the essential qualifications for membership. It is so designed that kinship of race, belief, spirit, character, and purpose will engender a real, vital, and enduring fellowship among Klansmen.
6. Fraternal. The order is designed to be a real brotherhood. Klansmen have committed themselves to the practice of Klannishness toward fellow-Klansmen." By this commitment they have agreed to treat one another as brothers. Fraternal love has become the bond of union. And this requires the development of such a spirit of active good will as will impel every Klansman to seek to promote the wellbeing of his fellow-Klansmen "socially, physically, morally, and vocationally."
. . . .
OBJECTS AND PURPOSES ( ARTICLE II, THE CONSTITUTION )I. Mobilization
This is its primary purpose: "To unite white male persons, native-born, Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person, or people; whose morals are good; whose reputations and vocations are respectable; whose habits are exemplary; who are of sound minds and eighteen years or more of age, under a common oath into a brotherhood of strict regulations."
. . . .
The movement is designed to create a real brotherhood among men who are akin in race, belief, spirit, character, interest, and purpose. The teachings of the order indicate very clearly the attitude and conduct that make for real expression of brotherhood, or, "the practice of Klannishness."
"To relieve the injured and the oppressed; to succor the suffering and unfortunate, especially widows and orphans."
The supreme pattern for all true Klansmen is their Criterion of Character, Jesus Christ, "who went about doing good." The movement accepts the full Christian program of unselfish helpfulness, and will seek to carry it on in the manner commanded by the one Master of Men, Christ Jesus.
1. The Home. "To shield the sanctity of the home." The American home is fundamental to all that is best in life, in society, in church, and in the nation. It is the most sacred of human institutions. Its sanctity is to be preserved, its interests are to be safeguarded, and its well-being is to be promoted. Every influence that seeks to disrupt the home must itself be destroyed. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would protect the home by promoting whatever would make for its stability, its betterment, its safety, and its inviolability.
2. Womanhood. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan declares that it is committed to "the sacred duty of protecting womanhood"; and announces that one of its purposes is "to shield . . . the chastity of womanhood." The degradation of women is a violation of the sacredness of human personality, a sin against the race, a crime against society, a menace to our country, and a prostitution of all that is best, and noblest, and highest in life. No race, or society, or country, can rise higher than its womanhood.
3. The Helpless. "To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal." Children, the disabled, and other helpless ones are to know the protective, sheltering arms of the Klan.
4. American Interests. "To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the states and the people thereof from all invasion of their right from any source whatsoever."
"To maintain forever white supremacy." "To maintain forever the God- given supremacy of the white race."
Every Klansman has unqualifiedly affirmed that he will "faithfully strive for the eternal maintenance of white supremacy."
OFFENSES AND PENALTIES
I. Two Classes of Offenses
"Offenses against this order shall be divided into two classes‹ major and minor offenses."
II. Major Offenses"Major offenses shall consist of:
1. "Treason against the United States of America."
2. "Violating the oath of allegiance to this order or any supplementary oath of obligation thereof."
3. "Disrespect of virtuous womanhood."
4 "Violation of the Constitution or laws of this order."
(a) By conspiracy:
(b) Relinquishment or forfeiture of citizenship:
(c) Support of any foreign power against the United States of America:
(d) Violating the bylaws of a Klan of this Order.
(e) Habitual drunkenness:
(f) Habitual profanity or vulgarity:
5 Unworthy racial or Klan conduct: "Being responsible for the polluting of Caucasian blood through miscegenation, or the commission of any act unworthy of a Klansman." White men must not mix their blood with that of colored or other inferior races.
THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
1. The Klansman's pledge of secrecy pertains to all matters connected with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
(a) He is sworn to keep solemnly secret the symbols of the order. This means that he will not disclose the signs, words, or grip.
(b) He is solemnly sworn to keep sacredly secret all information that he may receive concerning the order. The alien world is eager to learn all it can of the inner secrets and workings and plans of the organization. The Klansman who is enlightened as to these matters is obligated to keep his information both sacred and secret.
. . . .
1. Social: A true Klansman will not injure a fellow Klansman. He will not slander him. He will not defraud a Klansman.
2 Physical: Every Klansman is pledged to go at any time without hesitation to the assistance or rescue of a Klansman in any way. With uplifted hand, every Klansman has committed himself; "at his call I will answer." The Klansman is sworn to be Klannish toward Klansmen in all things honorable.
. . . .
(b) The true Klansman is pledged to absolute devotion to American principles. Before the sacred altar of the Klan, face to face with the Stars and Stripes, and beneath the holy light of the Fiery Cross, he pledged himself in these words; "I swear that I will most zealously and valiantly shield and preserve, by any and all justifiable means and methods, the sacred Constitutional rights and privileges of . . ."
1 Free public schools.
2 Free speech and free press.
3 Separation of church and state.
Return to the Hanover College History Department.