The Empire and the Editor: the Ku Klux Klan in Heppner, Oregon
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This thesis identifies the social, economic and political factors in Heppner, Oregon that shaped its lukewarm response to the Ku Klux Klan from 1921-1925. The resurgent Klan in Oregon successfully appealed to Protestant Americans with nativist and anti-Catholic rhetoric. The Klan established chapters in towns across Oregon, controlled state politics and in many cases, dominated local politics as well. Heppner serves as an important counter-example to the trend of the Oregon Klan’s success in small towns: Heppner’s Klan was passive, encountered resistance, organized late, and did not have a measurable effect on local politics. This thesis uses newspaper articles, census data and childhood memoirs to understand the local dynamics that led to the Ku Klux Klan’s uncommon fate in Heppner. This thesis concludes that Heppner’s large Irish community, its spirit of cooperation forged by natural disasters and the presence of an anti-Klan newspaper contributed to the Klan weakness in Heppner.