Excerpted from the Digitized
Text at archived at the Michigan
State University Libraries.
In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan directed its hostility to immigrants and Roman Catholics as well as African Americans. Millions of white Protestant Americans joined -- including many elected officials and community leaders. Some of its appeal was the fraternalism, philanthropy, and ritualism that it shared with more mainstream organizations like the Masons.
THE ORDER (Article I, The Constitution)
III. Its Nature
Six outstanding features are particularized in describing the nature of this Order. Klansmen will do well to fix them in mind so that they will know the kind of an order they have joined.
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. The Klan motto (Not for self but for others) must be translated into real, active, unselfish helpfulness. 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."
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OBJECTS AND PURPOSES ( ARTICLE II, THE CONSTITUTION )
Klansmen must know the objects and purposes of this order, if their energies in connection with the movement are to be conserved, and if their activities are to produce the desired results. . . . These [nine] purposes are fundamental and should enlist the interest, and enthusiasm, and responsive activity of every true-hearted Klansman.
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." . . .
As stated by the Constitution, the cultural purpose of the movement is "to cultivate and promote patriotism toward our civil government." . . .
. . . 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."
IV. Beneficent. . . The supreme pattern for all true Klansmen is their Criterion of Character, Jesus Christ, "who went about doing good." The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in making effective its beneficent purpose, will emphasize the need of helpful service to the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the oppressed. 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. . .
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.
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is the chivalrous response of red-blooded, true-hearted American manhood to the cry of American womanhood that she be protected in her rights, her liberties, and in her person. The Knights of the Ku Klux Kan demands reverence for American womanhood, and insists that her person shall be respected as sacred, that her chastity be kept inviolate, and that she not be deprived of her right to the glory of an unstained body.
"To maintain forever white supremacy."
. . . Every Klansman has unqualifiedly affirmed that he will "faithfully strive for the eternal maintenance of white supremacy." The Constitution of the order clearly commits the movement to a racial program. The official pronouncements of the Imperial Wizard further indicate the racial mission of the Klan. And the movement is dedicated to the task of preserving the blood-purity, the integrity, the traditions, the ideals and the heritages of the white race in America.
"To teach and faithfully inculcate a high spiritual philosophy through an exalted ritualism." Spirituality is the ultimate aim of Klankraft. . . .
"To create and maintain an institution by which the present and succeeding generations shall commemorate the great sacrifice, chivalric service, and imperishable achievement of the Ku Klux Kan of the Reconstruction period of American History . . . that their valiant accomplishments be not lost to posterity. . . ."
"To aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws, and to preserve the honor and dignity of the state by opposing tyranny. . . ."
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is sworn to the chivalric task of suppressing all menaces to the integrity of America and the rights, liberties, and privileges of the American people.
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