Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
P. David Dillard
John Joseph Butt
Steven W. Guerrier
Hate groups are often portrayed as the province of men. Yet wives have not only supported their husbands in these groups, they have had their own organizations. These groups proclaim that their goal is not the propagation of hate, but some higher purpose, such as protecting America from that which is un-American. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) sought to preserve the memory of the Confederacy, through memorials, parades, and the teaching of catechisms to the children ensuring that the right history was conveyed. Among many things, the children were taught to hate Northerners. Later during the 1920s, many of the UDC joined the newly formed Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK.)
This paper will examine why normal, educated white women joined first the UDC then the WKKK, becoming spreaders of hate in the name of good. The major sources will be the primary sources, the publications of the UDC and WKKK, as well as the newspapers of the KKK. The significant secondary sources for the UDC are Karen Cox, Dixie's Daughter: the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture; Drew Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, and Charles Wilson, Baptized in Blood: the Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920. For the WKKK, Kathleen Blee, Women of the Ku Klux Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s; Arnold Rice, The Ku Klux Klan in American Politics, and Wyn Wade, The Fiery Cross: the Ku Klux Klan in America.
Common elements among the women in both groups: no regret or shame in having belonged, along with the ability to dissemble over their complicity in the on-going lashings, lynchings, arson and the ruining of businesses and reputations. They believed their organizations were performing a public good, that they were showing their patriotism as well as defending morality and God's divine law of natural order. Hate can be addictive, especially when it is nurtured by family, friends and associates. For both the UDC and WKKK, the end justified the means.
Dorn, Constance A., "Teaching hate in the name of good" (2017). Masters Theses. 482.