The Klan’s Fight for Americanism (1926)

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February 15, 2008 – Précis Homework

The Klan’s Fight for Americanism (1926)

The revival of the Ku Klux Klan arose after World War I when American’s were back lashing against “alien” groups and infestation of the American way of life. This group had originally died out in 1900, but patriotism fostered from World War I brought it back. It adopted a broader agenda than the original organization and its members grew in size. Tolerance now went beyond blacks to include Jews, Catholics, communists, and labor unions. Hiram Evans, a Texan dentist, assumed leadership of the organization in 1926. This segment was a speech he gave supporting the protest against all of the “ills” associated with modern culture. He mentions that the Klan does not try and represent any people besides the Nordic race. Where as in past years, the group’s opinions were straight forward and clear, it was now full of confusion in thought and opinion, hesitancy about national affairs and private life as well. He also threatens that old-stock Americans are learning to arm themselves for this new type of warfare led by the false ideas a philanthropy that put aliens ahead of their own children. The Klan gave direction to old-stock Americans, providing them with leadership towards fulfilling their “racial and national destiny.” And the ultimate goal was “Native, white, Protestant supremacy.” This is extremely important as America had begun to move away towards the extreme racism that was present in earlier years. But with the revival of the Klan came the heavy racism towards all non-whites, which were now present in larger numbers. During a time when American should have been pulling together, hence patriotism, they were creating their own domestic issues.

The Need for Immigration Restriction (1923)

The Red Scare after World War I engraved a fear of losing jobs in many American’s minds, and this caused many to shun immigrants. Immigrants from Asia and Easter Europe were especially disliked, as they couldn’t assimilate into US culture easily. These concerned paved the way for restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924. In 1921, the act limited the number of any country to 3% of that nation’s proportion of the Americans population in 1910. The 1924 act proved to be even more restrictive. This selection explained the context of the law specifically, written by the federal official in charge of immigration policy of the time. A literacy test for aliens was a common weapon to reduce the amount of “new” immigrants streaming into America. Cleveland and Taft and Wilson all vetoed the act, but Congress passed a general immigration bill which included the new literacy provision. But the barrier couldn’t stand up to the amount of Europeans that would be attempting to come to America to get away from war-stricken areas at home, so a new bill was passed to suspend practically all immigration. This extended until June 30, 1924, and some amendments were added. New monthly quotas were decreased, and several exceptions to the rules were given. For example government officials, aliens visiting the US as tourists, and aliens who have resided in Canada, Newfoundland, Cuba, Mexico, or Central/South America would bypass the law. The quota limit law was an addition to, and not a substitution for the provisions of the immigration laws. This selection seemed important as it shaped America today, in a way. Had we let more immigrants into our country, would our population be significantly larger? Or would there be less native Americans? These acts halted the “new” immigrants, which at the time seemed to have a negative effect of American society, so was viewed as a positive thing. Also, the laws allowed for tourists and such to enter, so that the US would still be making money form those who simply had the desire to visit.

The Immigration Act of 1924

Economic recession and ethnic tensions spawned a new wave of anti-immigration sentiment, which led to the Immigration Act of 1924. Only six Congress voted again this act, including Robert H. Clancy – a Republican congressman from Detroit. On April 8, 1924, he gave a speech to Congress criticizing the quota provisions of the new immigration act for being racially discriminatory and “un-American.” He spoke about how in years past, the discrimination was towards the Irish and Germans, but now it has broadened to include Italians, Spanish, Poles, Jews, Greeks, Russians, and so forth. He believed this bill was an example of discrimination at its worst. Clancy particularly spoke about the Jews, Italians, and Poles in Detroit. He believed that Jews were some of the greatest judges, and were in no way a hinder to the city’s well being. The Italians fill up the city in every form from hard labor to medicine to banking. They were rapidly becoming Americanized and making themselves into good citizens. And last, the Poles were believed to be as industrious and frugal as any other immigrant. They adapted to the language and took pride in America. He makes an important statement at the end of his speech: “Every American Has Foreign Ancestors.” And I think this line is what makes this selection important. That is one common thing that all Americans share. Although we may have been born here, we all came from other countries, the same countries that, to this day, we discriminate against. I don’t know how Congress’s opinions changed once hearing this speech, and relating it to their own personal background, but that line could have set the pavement for the country we are today. I think this speech was finally a way for even the most discriminatory American to understand how wrong it really was.

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