The Fool of the Family: Nativism and the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon's 1922 Election
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This thesis examines the intersection of national nativist trends with local peculiarities in Oregon's 1922 election. A surge of nativism in the United States during the post World War I period aided in the rapid expansion of the Second Ku Klux Klan, which came to be the prevailing political force in Oregon in the early 1920s. The KKK did not bring nativism to Oregon; rather, the state's unique social and political culture, coupled with the refusal of sitting Governor, Ben W. Olcott to recognize the Klan as a threat to social harmony, aided in the achievement of unprecedented Klan success in Oregon. The scope of this success is witnessed in the 1922 election, which resulted in a victory for a Klan backed governor, Walter M. Pierce, and the passage of the nation's first Compulsory Education Bill. To understand the prevailing sentiments before, during, and after the election this thesis analyzes the correspondence and speeches of both governors, as well as contemporary newspapers. As Oregon attempted to answer questions of the relationship between state and identity plaguing the nation it took actions that retain significance not only for Oregonians, but all Americans.