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Power Devaluation, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Democratic National Convention of 1924

Abstract

In the early 1920s, millions of American men and women joined the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. As the movement expanded, it became heavily involved in local, state, and national politics. The Klan became the center of controversy at the Democratic National Convention of 1924. An anti-Klan faction proposed a plank to the party platform that, if accepted, would have condemned the Ku Klux Klan by name. After a raucous debate, the plank was defeated by a narrow margin. In this paper I analyze state-level variation in support for the Klan at the convention. Klan support is predicted by delegates' support for prohibition, by party competitiveness in non-Southern states, and by a three-way interaction between increasing numbers of voters, increasing numbers of manufacturing workers, and decreasing farm population within the states. The findings support predictions generated by the status politics model, political mediation theory, and the power devaluation model. I conclude the paper by discussing ways in which the central insights of the status politics model and of political mediation theory can be incorporated into the general framework of the power devaluation model.

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McVeigh, R. Power Devaluation, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Democratic National Convention of 1924. Sociological Forum 16, 1–30 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007655818083

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  • social movements
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • power devaluation