The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland
Published by: Indiana University Press
"Who is an American?" asked the Ku Klux Klan. It is a question that echoes as loudly today as it did in the early twentieth century. But who really joined the Klan? Were they "hillbillies, the Great Unteachables" as one journalist put it? It would be comforting to think so, but how then did they become one of the most powerful political forces in our nation's history?
In The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland, renowned historian James H. Madison details the creation and reign of the infamous organization. Through the prism of their operations in Indiana and the Midwest, Madison explores the Klan's roots in respectable white protestant society. Convinced that America was heading in the wrong direction because of undesirable "un-American" elements, Klan members did not see themselves as bigoted racist extremists but as good Christian patriots joining proudly together in a righteous moral crusade.
The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland offers a detailed history of this powerful organization and examines how, through its use of intimidation, religious belief, and the ballot box, the ideals of Klan in the 1920s have on-going implications for America today.
1. The Klan Arrives
2. The Dangers to America
3. To Hell in a Handbasket
4. The Politics of Mediocrity
5. Stephenson Goes Down
6. The Klan's Enemies Step Up
7. The Klan Returns
8. The Klan is Dead
Bibliography: Learning More about the Ku Klux Klan
"Scholars and general readers alike will profit from distinguished Indiana historian James Madison's excellent account of the 1920s Klan and its troubled legacy in the Hoosier state. Grounded in thorough research and expressed in direct, vivid prose, The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland documents the Invisible Empire's impact on Indiana institutions and culture from state politics to small town life. Unsparing in his exposure of Klan bigotry, Madison also attempts to understand ordinary Klan members who believed themselves to be good citizens and kind-hearted neighbors. That paradox has informed changing perceptions of American identity and privilege over the past century."~Thomas R. Pegram, Loyola University Maryland, author of One Hundred Percent America: The Rebirth and Decline of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1920s.
"James Madison, author of the classic A Lynching in the Heartland, gives a sweeping portrayal of the ugly role of The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland and its blot on American history. He portrays its rise to power in Indiana in the 1920s, and its current iterations in "graffiti of Nazi flags painted outside a Hamilton county synagogue in 2018" and in "Klan recruiting notices that appeared across town" in Bloomington in 2019. This book burns."~Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties, and Going All The Way.
""In examining the motivations and methods of the Ku Klux Klan, Madison's lively, accessible and all-too-timely account, explores how previous generations have grappled with the age-old question "who is an American?"; a question that continues to define and divide the nation today. Whether addressing politics, media, religion or basketball, this meticulously researched and expansive work brilliantly illustrates how, through the Klan, we can better understand American history today.""~Tom Rice, University of St Andrews, author of White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making of the Ku Klux Klan
""Our democracy demands that we open all the pages in the book of history," James Madison writes in this important study of the Klan in Indiana. In his reading of these pages, Madison counters many of the common myths surrounding the origin, power, and appeal of the Klan to Midwesterners in the 1920s. Madison's focus is on the robed men and women, neither naïve nor particularly duped by a charismatic leader, who belonged to the organization, and on the political turmoil surrounding prohibition, suffrage, economics, and religion that caused them to join. The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland sheds much-needed light on the un-read pages of our past that continue to reverberate into our present. "~Susan Neville, Butler University, author of Indiana Winter