The Washington State Klan in the 1920s Chapter 4 The Strongest Chapter in WA: Bellingham's KKK

KKK Parade Float leading 750 Klan members on a march through downtown Bellingham, May 15, 1926. Courtesy of the Whatcom County Historical Society [Home] [History] [Photos][Documents] [Watcher on the Tower] by Trevor Griffey While other Washington State chapters may have had more members at their peak, probably the strongest and longest lasting Ku Klux Klan presence in the 1920s and 1930s was in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, organized in particular around the towns of Bellingham and Mount Vernon. While many Klan chapters faded in the late 1920s, according to one local resident, the chapters in these counties “never did disband.”[1] Little evidence of Klan activity in these counties exists prior to July 4, 1923, when local Klansmen burned a cross on the top of Sehome Hill in Bellingham and apparently got into a fist-fight with a few angry residents who went to confront them.[2] Following that, a writer going by the name O.V. Davis, “The Hawaiian Delegate”, started offering regular reports of Klan activity in and around Bellingham in the state Klan’s newspaper, The Watcher on the Tower. The Bellingham group held an August 19 membership initiation ceremony at which sailors stationed aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee were made honored guests. It is likely that this meeting was attended by Klan organizers John J. Jeffrey, Luther I. Powell, and J. Arthur Herdon (to organize non-citizens) who were

reported to have visited Bellingham in late August.[3] Following it, Davis announced “our great membership drive this Fall” which likely established Bellingham’s chapter. Other than some Klansmen handing $20 to a pastor at a Sunday service on October 22, 1923, most of the news coverage of the Klan in Whatcom county during 1924 focused on I-49, the anti-catholic school bill which was soundly defeated. But whereas most Klan chapters declined after that election, the Klan in Bellingham and Mount Vernon areas were strong enough to not only continue but draw large crowds at a series of public events that began with a meeting of over a thousand in Stanwood in 1924. And some believe that Marion A. Keyes, who was elected Mayor of Blaine in 1924, was a member of the Klan. On September 26th, 1925, the “largest crowd that has ever assembled in the Lynden District,” estimated between 12,000 and 25,000 people, attended a rally of supposedly 750 members of the Ku Klux Klan at the Northwest Washington Fair Grounds.[4] The vast majority of the 160 people initiated into the Klan that night were, according to the Bellingham Herald (which was a supporter of the Klan) “chiefly from Bellingham, Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Stanwood and Everett.”[5] There was also reportedly “a large delegation from Canada.” The Vancouver, BC Klan held a large march a month later.[6] The following year, the local Klan sought to capitalize upon its gains by incorporating itself into the Bellingham Tulip festival parade. The proposal was initially accepted by the Tulip festival planning committee, but controversy forced the committee to reconsider. To avert a crisis, the Klan decided to pull out of the Festival and stage its own mile-long parade of 762 local Klan members on May 15, 1926 through downtown Bellingham.[7] Immediately following a Klan picnic at Cornwall Park, the parade featured a statue of liberty riding a KKK float, the women’s Klan auxiliary, “Klavaliers” on horses, “three members of the original Klan” (from the 1860s) and other Klan members.[8] Three years later, on July 27th and 28th, 1929, the Bellingham Klan chapter hosted the Washington State KKK annual convention, attended by delegates from dozens of Ku Klux Klan chapters. Bellingham Mayor John A. Kellogg addressed the convention while standing in front of an enormous electric cross, and concluded his remarks by presenting Grand Dragon EB Quackenbush from Spokane with the Key to the City. During his speech, Kellogg also acknowledged Bellingham City Attorney Charles B. Sampley, described by the Bellingham Herald as “a prominent Klansman” who the crowd “hailed as a conquering hero.”[9] A decision to make the KKK less secretive was one of the highlights of 1929 convention. Only women wore robes at the two day meeting, but the conference concluded with a parade through downtown Bellingham with all wearing full Klan regalia. As Gabriel Mayer wrote for the Journal of Whatcom County Historical Society, the decision to be less secret was a strange one given how open the Bellingham Klan was in the late 1920s. Its office in Rooms 212-213 of the Long Building was listed in the phone book, which also listed Klan meetings as happening every Tuesday night at Tulip Hall.

Less is known about what happened to the Whatcom and Skagit County Klan chapters in the 1930s. Though not all of them joined the pro-Hitler Silver Legion in the 1930s, much of the Silver Legion in those two Counties reportedly came from former Klan members.[10] And in 1934, Blanton Lather, a high ranking Klan official, teamed up prominent local conservatives (including the editor of the Bellingham Herald, women from a group called “Pro-America”, and a former officer in the American Legion) to demand the resignation of Charles H. Fisher, the president of Western Washington State College in Bellingham. They accused President Fisher of inviting “members of subversive organizations, and of free love, atheistic, and un-American pacifist organizations” to speak on campus to the exclusion of “pro-Americans.” He was also charged with antiChristian bias; lack of patriotism; and tolerating “anti-American” student groups.[11] Though the school’s Board of Trustees found the allegations groundless, pressure continued for years. According to a historian of the College (now Western Washington University), “the fiery cross on Sehome Hill was a nocturnal spectacle in Bellingham at this time.”[12] And on the diplomatic front, the ad-hoc committee began lobbying Governor Clarence Martin to fire Fisher. In 1937, Fisher’s contract expired though he continued to work without one. In October, 1938, Governor Martin convinced the school’s Board of Trustees to fire President Fisher after he refused to resign.[13] The arc of the Ku Klux Klan in Whatcom County thus bridged a generation of conservative organizing. It began in the wake of the first Red Scare after World War I, and persisted in ways that foreshadowed the intimidation tactics and character assassination of the new anti-communism that emerged after World War II. In 1941, an American Association of University Professors report criticized Governor Martin for failing to protect academic freedom and for capitulating to the Klan and other supposedly patriotic groups when he had Fisher fired.[14] But Martin’s actions were just the tip of the iceberg, and they showed how much influence a fringe group like the Klan could have. When State Legislator Albert Canwell launched an inquiry in 1948 based on the fanciful claim that 150 of the University of Washington’s 700 professors might be communists, he was following in the footsteps of Blanton Lather and creating a model for Joseph McCarthy’s Cold War hysteria at the same time. Next: Ch5 --The Ku Klux Klan and Vigilante Culture in Yakima Valley "The Washington State Klan in the 1920s" by Trevor Griffey includes the following chapters: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Citizen Klan: Electoral Politics and the KKK in WA Luther I. Powell, Northwest KKK Organizer The Ku Klux Klan in Seattle The Strongest Chapter in WA: Bellingham's KKK The Ku Klux Klan and Vigilante Culture in Yakima Valley KKK Super Rallies in Washington State, 1923-24 Social Klan: White Supremacy in Everyday Life The Washington State KKK and the U.S. Navy Non-Citizen Klan: Royal Riders of the Red Robe

Copyright (©) Trevor Griffey 2007

[1] Donald Stuart Strong. Organized anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice During the Decade 1930-40. Washington, D.C., American Council on Public Affairs, 1941. p. 50 [2] The Hawaiian Delegate. “Caseys Take Pleasant Outing at Bellingham K.K.K. Demonstration” Watcher on the Tower. July 28, 1923, p.3 [3] “Bellingham Provisional Klan Making Great Progress. Many Americans Flocking to Portals of Invisible Empire in Whatcom County.” Watcher on the Tower. Sept. 1, 1923, p.4 [4] “Thousands Gather to Observe Klan: Largest Crowd in History of Lynden Witnesses Demosntration of Order at Fair Grounds.” Lynden Tribune. October 1, 1925, p1 [5] Bellingham American, September 28, 1925, p3; “Open-Air Initiation of Klan at Lynden Is Seen by Large Crowd.” Bellingham Herald. Sept. 28, 1925, p2 [6] “Thousands Gather to Observe Klan” [7] American Revielle. May 16, 1926 p 1 [8] American Revielle., may 17 1926 p8 [9] “Klansmen Convene and Will Stage Parade.” Bellingham Herald, July 27, 1929. p.1 [10] Karen E. Hoppes. William Dudley Pelley and the Silvershirt Legion : a case study of the Legion in Washington State, 1933-1942. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, History, CUNY. p. 202 [11] AAUP Bulletin, Feb 1941 p51 [12] Meyer, p. 35 [13] AAUP Bulletin, Feb 1941 [14] ibid.

Klan Organizing in 1923 (Click on image to view articles from the Seattle KKK paper, Watcher on the Tower)

Description of Fourth of July cross burning. Watcher on the Tower, June 28, 1923, p.3

Watcher on the Tower, Aug 11, 1923, p.5

Watcher on the Tower, Aug 25, 1923, p.5

Watcher on the Tower, Sept. 1, 1923, p.4

Watcher on the Tower, Oct. 6, 1923, p.6

Lynden Rally, Sept. 26, 1925 (Click on image to view articles)

Lynden Tribune, Sept 24,1925, p.1

Bellingham Herald, Sept 28,1925, p.2

Lynden Tribune, Oct 1,1925, p.1

Bellingham Parade, May 15, 1926

Bellingham Herald, April 29,1926, p.1

Bellingham Herald, May 17,1926, p.8

KKK Convention, July 27-8, 1929

Bellingham Herald, July 24,1929, p.2

Bellingham Herald, July 27,1929, p.1

Bellingham Herald, July 29,1929, p.11 http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/kkk_intro.htm

Special Section The Ku Klux Klan In Washington State, 1920s
[History] [Photos] [Documents] [Watcher on the Tower]

Ku Klux Klan Gathering, Crystal Pool (2nd and Lenora) in Downtown Seattle, WA. March 23, 1923. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

This special section of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project documents the history of Washington State's 1920s chapter of the most infamous white supremacist organization in American history, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Washington State Klan during the 1920s was part of the second of three waves of KKK activity in America. The second KKK was founded in 1915 and gained significant membership immediately following World War I. Though shortlived, it was a powerful antiimmigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-radical, white supremacist organization that promoted "100 percent Americanism." The second KKK claimed over 4 million members across the country; briefly dominated state legislatures of Colorado, Indiana, and Oregon; and in 1924 shaped presidential politics and helped pressure politicians to pass the most severe immigration restriction in the history of the United States. Following immigration restriction and a series of leadership scandals, the second KKK collapsed and was largely moribund by 1928. The second KKK was a mass movement that invoked the memory of and built upon the first KKK, which was a terrorist organization founded by white supremacists in the U.S. South. The first KKK's violent "night riding"-- in which hooded vigilantes used lynchings, whippings, and torture to intimidate recently freed slaves and their white allies -- played a crucial role in the disenfranchisement of African Americans at the end of the Civil War in the 1860s and 1870s and laid a foundation for the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the 1890s and 1900s.

White Supremacy in the Pacific Northwest

Unidentified Klansman in Seattle in 1923. Photo from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, courtesy of the Seattle Museum of History and Industry. (Click the image above to go to a gallery of rare photographs of Northwest Klan activities.) Mass Rallies and Public Spectacles

A float in a KKK parade in Bellingham, WA in 1926. The float was barred from the city's Tulip Festival, but Whatcom County continued to be a strong base of support for the State KKK through the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Whatcom County Historical Society.

The second KKK also helped train some of the leaders who later formed the third KKK, a mainly Southern organization that rose up in the decades after World War II to murder and terrorize people in AfricanAmerican communities, particularly civil rights movement activists. Klan members' hoods, white robes, and burning crosses made them icons of American white supremacy and terrorism, and their legacy haunts us to this day. The Washington State KKK during the 1920s was founded by organizers from Oregon, which had one of the strongest Klan chapters in the country at the time. The State Klan organized a series of massive public rallies in 1923 and 1924 that ranged from 20,000 to 70,000 people. While they publicly disavowed violence, Klan members participated in violent intimidation campaigns against labor activists and Japanese farmers in Yakima Valley and probably elsewhere. They put forward a ballot initiative in 1924 to prohibit Catholic schools that voters soundly defeated. And though most of the State's Klan chapters collapsed in rancor following the defeat of their anti-private school initiative, a strong presence persisted in Whatcom and Skagit Counties throughout the 1930s. In the 1930s, some prominent leaders in the region's KKK went on to become involved in the facist Silver Legion, or "Silvershirts," a national movement that, while small, was quite active in Washington State. And there is evidence that the Klan in Bellingham helped pioneer intimidation practices that paved the way for anticommunist witch-hunts in the 1940s. This special section on the KKK was created by Trevor Griffey and "KKK Wedding" in Sedro Wooley, Washington, June 16, 1926. Photo courtesy of the Skagit River Journal.

A forty-foot electric cross displayed at a KKK rally outside Seattle in 1923. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.

Newspaper: The Watcher on the Tower

includes three historical essays courtesy of Trevor Griffey, Brianne Cooke, and Kristin Dimick. It presents dozens of rare photographs, newspaper articles, and documents thanks to gracious contributions from the Washington State Archives, the Washington State Historical Society,the Whatcom County Historical Society, and the Skagit River Journal.

The Washington State Klan in the 1920s. By Trevor Griffey The Washington State Klan had a meteoric rise and fall in the 1920s. The organization's history shows how the Klan skillfully used spectacular mass meetings to gain members and influence public opinion. The Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Catholic School Bills of Washington and Oregon, By Kristin Dimick The Oregon State Klan led a successful campaign in 1923 that made private schools illegal. In 1924, the Washington State Klan tried to duplicate this anti-Catholic campaign but voters rejected the initiative 2-1. Washington KKK Newspaper: The Watcher on the Tower, By Brianne Cooke From 1923 to 1924, the Washington State Klan published a newspaper out of Seattle called The Watcher on the Tower. Its propaganda shows how white supremacists in the Pacific Northwest promoted an organization associated with the U.S. Front cover of the Washington State KKK monthly publication, The Watcher on the Tower, circa 1923. The center features Uncle Sam, flanked by American Presidents, and wearing a Klan robe. Courtesy of the Washington State Archives. (Click the image above to go to a gallery of articles from The Watcher on the Tower.)

South.

Photographs: Rare photos courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society, the Skagit River Journal, and the Whatcom County Historical Society. Documents: Rare letters and telegrams to Governor Louis Hart regarding the Klan. Courtesy of Washington State Archives; Clippings from regional newspapers in Whatcom, King, and Thurston counties about Klan activities; and clippings regarding the Klan-supported anti-Catholic Initiative 49, which failed in 1924. The Watcher on the Tower: Selected 1923 clippings from the Washington State Klan's weekly newspaper.

Whatcom County Newspaper Clippings
Newspaper clippings on Klan activities from Whatcom County, from the "Bellingham Herald," the "Lynden Tribune," and the "Bellingham Reveille." This album is part of the larger Ku Klux Klan in Washington State project. Digitization made possible by Microfilm and Newspaper Collection, University of Washington Library; and the Washington State Newspaper Collections at the Washington State Archives. Copyright (c) reserved. http://depts.washington.edu/labpics/repository/v/KKK/documents/bellingham/

Documents from the Washington State KKK in the 1920s
Documents from the Washington State Klan, including communications between the Klan leadership and the State Governor; clippings from regional newspapers relating to Klan activities in Whatcom County, Pullman, Colfax, Seattle, and Yakima; and newspaper clippings relating to the failed anti-Catholic School Initiative 49 of 1924, which was supported by the Klan. For a history of Klan activities in Washington State, see the larger Ku Klux Klan in Washington State project. Digitization made possible by Microfilm and Newspaper Collection, University of Washington Library; and the Washington State Newspaper Collections at the Washington State Archives. Copyright (c) reserved. http://depts.washington.edu/labpics/repository/v/KKK/documents/

The Washington State Klan in the 1920s The Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Catholic School Bills of Washington and Oregon
[Home] [Photos] [Documents] [Watcher on the Tower]

by Kristin Dimick During the Ku Klux Klan's revival during the 1920s, the organization formed a strong presence in the Pacific Northwest. In Washington, the majority of the Klan’s work was devoted to passing an anti-Catholic school initiative and attempting to spread their particular brand of white, Protestant supremacy. Yet while Oregon passed an antiCatholic school bill in 1922, heavily backed by the Oregon Klan, Washington voters rejected a similar measure--and the influence of the Washington Klan--two years later. This paper argues that the reason the bill, known as Initiative 49, did not pass in Washington State is, first of all, poor timing. Because it was placed on the ballot two years after the passing of the Oregon bill in 1922, the United States Federal Court had moved in the interim to declare the bill unconstitutional. The initiative also failed because it faced strong opposition, not only by Washington Catholics, but by many other powerful groups. The Federal Court's ruling on the Oregon bill, the strong opposition to the initiative by powerful groups in Washington politics, and the negative press reported by the majority of Washington newspapers combined to doom Initiative 49 in Washington State and to greatly limit the Klan’s ability to grow by the late 1920s. The Ku Klux Klan that surfaced in the 1920s formed the second wave of Klan activity in the United States. Unlike the first emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, formed in the South

in 1868 and mainly concerned with keeping black people from exercising their new freedoms, the second wave of the Ku Klux Klan focused their efforts on a wider range of issues. This new wave portrayed themselves as a race-protecting group that “espoused a virulent form of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-immigrant sentiment.”[1] Secondly, they saw themselves as “moral, law-abiding citizens dedicated to political and civil reform, civic improvement, and the defense of traditional American values.”[2] The second Ku Klux Klan also differed from the first in that it was spread out all over the United States. The Pacific Northwest was home to a large Klan membership, and for a few years in the early 1920s, Klan members were active in the Oregon State government. The Ku Klux Klan first came to the Pacific Northwest in 1921, appearing in the Oregon towns of Medford, Klamath Falls, and Tillamook.[3] The Klan was brought to Oregon by Luther Powell, a Klan organizer who had worked in California and Louisiana. Powell visited Medford in January to scout out new areas where he could start new branches of the Klan, called “klaverns.” During his stay in Oregon, with the help of a local named P.S. Malcolm, Powell formed Oregon’s first klavern of 25 members.[4] Medford's klavern was quickly emulated in other parts of the state. As Klan members reported, “The Oregon Klan had 14,000 members including the mayor of Portland, many politicians, and police officers.”[5] The members of the Ku Klux Klan saw themselves as “real” Americans and protectors of what they saw as the American way of life. Due to their sense of duty, the Klan targeted groups that were not like the majority of white Americans and attacked them. The Oregon School Bill was one way in which they did this. The Oregon School Bill aimed to close private Catholic schools in Oregon and have the children sent to the public school system. Since public schools taught state-mandated curricula, the Klan saw this measure as a way to “Americanize” Catholic children and limit the amount of "non-Protestant" instruction they received. Oregonians who supported the Compulsory Education Bill, including the Oregon Klan, made the argument that private and parochial schools were often controlled by non-American organizations that emphasized foreign ideologies over traditional American values.[6] It's plausible that, since a majority of Oregon's population was Protestant, that there was some pre-existing hostility toward Catholics that could explain the support for, and eventual passage of, the explicitly anti-Catholic measure.[7] However, the determining factor does not seem to be religious hatred as much as the large Klan following in Oregon. Not only were there 14,000 members in the state by the early 1920s, but there was an even larger swath of citizens sympathetic to Klan ideas and propaganda. The Klan's anti-Catholic propaganda campaign in the Northwest led to the formation of a few new groups targeting private and parochial schools on anti-Catholic grounds, including the National League for the Protection of American Institutions, which expressly hoped to guard the public schools against Catholic ideology.[8] Backings from other national organizations like the National League provided the Klan with the guidelines they needed to help them craft the Anti-Catholic School Bill in 1922. The Oregon Compulsory Education Bill was initiated not by the Klan, but by the Scottish Rite Masons, an anti-Catholic fraternal organization who hoped its passage would act as a model for other states to follow.[9] The Oregon School Bill required every child between the ages of eight and sixteen to attend public schools in their districts,

assimilating immigrant children into American (and Protestant) institutions. The Klan supported the bill as a legislative tool they could use to promote their hatred of Catholics, and shifted attention away from the fact that the Bill would close all private schools and focused on the perceived threat of Catholicism to Oregon’s public schools.[10] The Masons shared the Klan’s nativist ethos, and saw the bill as a way to stop immigrants and ethnic communities from forming “foreign” organizations and schools in the United States.[11] Opponents of the bill stressed the amount of money it would cost to carry out the mandate. Funding for public education comes out of the state budget, and it would fall to Oregon taxpayers to pay for the costs of more schools, buses, books, and other supplies necessary to accommodate all of the students who previously attended private schools. As historian M. Paul Holsinger writes, “The bill’s opponents also tried to appeal to the voter’s pocketbooks. Pointing out that there were over 12,000 students in the state enrolled in private schools, the initiative’s foes argued that the inclusion of these children in the public system would mean an addition of millions of dollars from increased taxes to pay for their education.”[12] Another argument against the bill was that children in private schools received “more personal attention, often from better educated teachers, than they did in the state’s schools.”[13] Opponents also argued that the bill was an “infringement of the constitutional freedoms guaranteed to all Americans.”[14] This was an argument made against the Washington bill two years later, and was the basis for the lawsuit testing the constitutionality of the Oregon bill after it was passed in 1922. Despite the arguments of its opponents, however, the Oregon Compulsory School Bill was passed in November 1922. The bill was to take effect in 1926, and plans were made to start closing all the private schools in Oregon and begin moving children into public schools. After the passage of the bill in November, action was taken almost immediately to test the law’s constitutionality. On January 15, attorneys representing the Hill Military Academy of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary argued for an injunction against Oregon’s Governor Pierce, Attorney General Van Winkle, and District Attorney Myers.[15] The plaintiff’s argument was that the law “is now causing damage to the plaintiffs because patrons of their schools are already seeking schools in other states and the plaintiffs are prevented from carrying out improvements required by the normal development of their schools.”[16] A week later, new arguments were filed in the brief: first, that the bill violated the constitution of the state of Oregon, Section 20 of Article IV; and second, that it would introduce undue economic hardship to Oregon taxpayers to accommodate the new ruling. [17] After three months, the Federal Court ruled unanimously that the new law be declared void, on the grounds of violating the United States Constitution, basing their decision on the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution which guarantees the liberty of schools to teach and the right of parents to enroll their children where they wish.[18] The bill was then taken to the United States Supreme Court, who also ruled it unconstitutional, although not before Washington voters voted on Initiative 49 in 1924.

The initial success of anti-Catholic organizing in Oregon motivated the Klan to spread into Washington and see if similar legislation could be passed there. The leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon, Luther Ivan Powell, moved to Washington in order to organize a strong Klan force in the state, declaring himself King Kleagle of Washington and Idaho.[19] Due to Powell’s efforts, there was an increase in Klan membership in the state and the subsequent drafting of Initiative 49, modeled after Oregon’s School Bill. Unlike in Oregon, in Washington, the Ku Klux Klan themselves drafted the bill and put it on the ballot; the measure was often referred to as the, “K.K.K. Anti-School Bill.”[20] Like the Oregon bill, the language of the bill’s presentation was deceiving, omitting the enforced closures of private schools that would occur and mentioning only the requirement of public schooling until age sixteen, exemplified in this 1924 article in the Seattle Daily Times: This is a measure initiated to the ballot by petition. It is an act compelling children between the ages of 7 and 16 years to attend public schools. The measure makes it mandatory that parents and guardians of children between the ages fixed in the act send these children to the public schools for the full time such schools shall be in session.[21] To those not reading closely, it seemed only to require children to be schooled full-time through their sixteenth year, not seeming to mention the subsequent closing of all private schools. Too, though the Klan was motivated by anti-Catholic nativism, the language of the bill makes no mention of it. Despite the potentially deceiving language, there was strong opposition to the initiative, leading to the bill’s eventual failure in Washington. A large amount of the opposition was led by the Catholic Northwest Progress, a newspaper that kept the Catholic community apprised of the proceedings of the Oregon bill through the Federal Court and of Klan efforts to pass a similar measure in Washington. The Progress explicitly called out the Klan’s anti-Catholic motivation, and acted as a galvanizing force for opposition to Initiative 49, bringing together major newspapers in the State, Catholic and Protestant clergy, mason organizations, labor groups, the mayor, and other state officials. It was not just the Catholic Northwest Progress that opposed Initiative 49, but most newspapers in Washington: reported the Progress in January of 1924, “Newspapers of Washington were practically unanimous in condemning the action of the five Tacoma men who last week filed a petition for an initiative bill in which the destruction of freedom of education in this state is proposed.”[22] Further, newspaper officials renewed their pledges of unity at the annual press association, held at the University of Washington’s School of Journalism. The President of the Washington Press Association, Chapin D. Foster, reported the Progress, “has declared his opposition to the proposed initiative measure advocated by the Ku Klux Klan for the destruction of private schools in the state of Washington.”[23] Foster and other leaders of the press went on to say that putting Initiative 49 on the ballot in November would destroy the unity which the press of the state had been working on in Washington, and marked that the only newspapers editorializing in favor of Initiative 49 were either Klan-controlled or proKlan.[24] The unity of the press was essential to Initiative 49’s failure, as their articles likely swayed many voters’ opinions.

Another group that stood up against the bill was the masons. This was significant, since the Scottish Rite Masons in Oregon were the people who first petitioned for an antiCatholic school bill in Oregon. As the mason’s statement read, Catholics of the State of Washington are not alone in the fight against the Initiative 49 which is proposed to destroy private and parochial schools; hundreds of Masons will ask no higher privilege than to give of their efforts and of their time and of their money to defeat this iniquitous, false and unfair bill which is subversive of constitutional guarantees and is aimed at the liberty of our country.[25] Lutherans and Adventists were also against the passing of Initiative 49 because of its infringement on religious liberties.[26] The protection of religious liberty was important to all of the religious groups of Washington, and was protected by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. As the masons, Lutherans, and Adventists realized, the passing of Initiative 49 would have been detrimental to more than just the Catholics, for if passed it could have led to other initiatives targeting other religious groups in Washington. Labor organizations, like the Seattle Central Labor Council, also opposed the initiative, arguing that it attacked “fundamental liberties” and restricted the ability of parents to raise their children in the way they saw fit, following the stand taken by the American Federation of Labor on the issue.[27] The Labor Council adopted a resolution opposing the Klan’s attempt to place the measure on the ballot, and went further in denouncing the Klan’s efforts to “stir up strife and dissension” by pushing the anti-Catholic initiative.[28] The support of non-religious groups, such as the Labor Council and American Federation of Labor broadened the opposition to the initiative to include civil, as well as religious, liberties. That so many different groups in Washington opposed this initiative is vital to the fact that it did not pass. Not only were different religious groups, both Catholic and Protestant, coming together in opposition to the bill, but there was also a strong voice from other groups that had no religious affiliation. Along with the labor and newspaper groups opposing the initiative, the large cities of Spokane, in eastern Washington, and Tacoma, in western Washington, took stands opposing the measure. Reported the Catholic Northwest Progress in June of 1924, “Spokane Citizens are organized to fight Ku Klux Klan Bill. Two thousand workers volunteer—withdrawals come in rapidly.”[29] A month later, the paper reported that the people of Tacoma also rallied together in support of the fight against Initiative 49.[30] These are just a few of the main indicators of widespread opposition to the bill before it was voted on in November. The only real backer of Initiative 49 in Washington was the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan argued that public schools and public education were the “nurseries of democracy,” and children in private schools were learning to place loyalty to foreign institutions above loyalty to the United States. Further, they argued that parochial school instruction was harmful to children, and that the schools have “failed to keep step with the progress of society in Spain, France, Italy, South America, Mexico, and in the United States. Where they rule, the percentage of illiteracy and ignorance is on the increase.”[31]

The Washington Klan also argued that the Oregon bill that was ruled unconstitutional and Initiative 49 were completely different. The Klan contested that Oregon’s “decision was rendered by the lowest Federal court in that State,” and that, “no court save the United States Supreme Court can finally construe the Federal Constitution.”[32] They also argued that the wording of the two bills was completely different, and that the main problem with the Oregon bill was not the thrust of its legislation, but the particulars of its wording.[33] The Ku Klux Klan faced a lot of hardships throughout their campaign of Initiative 49 in Washington. Despite their arguments, the fact that they were the only backer of the measure and a known terrorist group did not help the initiative’s chances of winning broader support. Not only did they face a strong opposition force by different groups throughout Washington State and the nation, but they also had internal problems that hindered their ability to work well together and present a united front to the public. After the filing of their petition to get Initiative 49 on the ballot in November, the press reported that the Klan had gathered many of the signatures needed to file the petition under false pretenses. Several articles in the Catholic Northwest Progress were devoted to exposing this: one headline stated that, “thousands declare circulators of Klan Bill deceived them. Exposure of fraud to continue.”[34] One example of people signing under false pretenses was when “two negroes appeared at the City clerk’s office, demanding that their names be withdrawn. One had been induced to sign by a Klansman who said he had the ‘Bone Bill’. The other Negro said he was asked to sign if he wished every child to have an education.”[35] This is just one example of many of these deceitful methods of the Klan to get the measure approved for the ballot, and speaks to the Klan’s inability to win most people to their nativist, supremacist program. In the months leading up to the election on November 4, 1924, there was a sharp increase in activity opposing the bill and urging voters to vote against it. On August 1, it was announced that Initiative 49 would be on the ballot in November.[36] As soon as August 15 there were advertisements in the Catholic Northwest Progress urging all people who were not registered voters to register before the deadline. One article began, “REGISTER!! Every citizen who has not registered since January 1, 1924, should REGISTER IMMEDIATELY,” and ended with, “If you have not registered since January 1, 1924, DO NOT FAIL TO REGISTER BEFORE THE BOOKS CLOSE NEXT TUESDAY.”[37] Another article that appeared in the paper a couple of weeks later read, “An Important Duty. YOU, Mr. and Mrs. Citizen, have an important duty to perform next Tuesday, September 9. You must cast your vote in the primary election…it is the privilege and the duty of every citizen to vote.”[38] The closer the date came to November 4, the more direct the articles telling voters to vote down Initiative 49 became. Northwest newspapers lived up to the “unity of the press” they had agreed upon a few months before. The Catholic Northwest Progress had articles with headlines that read “A Treacherous Ballot Title,” and included a facsimile of the ballot, clearly marked “no,” on the page.[39] The Seattle Daily Times also had articles telling people to vote against Initiative 49. In the Daily Times’ advisory ballot, the newspaper had the following advice for how to vote for Initiative 49: “Initiative Measure No. 49—the Ku Klux Klan Bill— VOTE AGAINST. The title of this bill is deceptive. The purpose of the bill is to destroy all private schools. Increase taxes and deliver the government of the State of Washington into the hands of a secret society.”[40] There was also a paid advertisement from the

Friends of Educational Freedom, which said “INITIATIVE 49 Would Injure Public Schools. Vote “AGAINST”. Initiative 49 would INJURE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS FINANCIALLY by decreasing the amount now available for educating each child in public schools.” The article ended by adding that “Initiative 49 is condemned by the National Education Association, by business men, labor organizations and by ministers of all Protestant denominations.”[41] These articles show the widespread, and often strong, opposition to the bill. The headline on the front page of the Catholic Northwest Progress on November 7 read, “WASHINGTON DECISIVELY DEFEATS KLAN BILL.”[42] The votes for the initiative were as follows: 131,691 for the initiative to 190,823 against. While the initiative was voted down by a little over 59,000 votes, in some counties and cities it was decisively closer. Eight of the thirty-nine counties in the state voted for the initiative, and in seven of the counties (including four of the counties that passed the bill), the vote for or against was within a margin of one hundred votes. The counties that passed the initiative were: Adams County, Chelan County, Cowlitz County, Douglas County, Grant County, Grays Harbor County, Wahklakum County, and Whitman County. The counties in which the vote was decided by a margin of one hundred votes or less were largely rural counties: Cowlitz County, Franklin County, Grays Harbor County, Lewis County, Mason County, Wahklakum County, and Whitman County.[43] In the cities of Kent and Auburn, the vote was also quite close: Kent, a major center of Klan activity, passed the measure by 416 to 399, and Auburn passed it by a similarly close margin of 795 to 675.[44] The decline of the Ku Klux Klan came rather rapidly after 1924, and not only in Washington State. Klan membership, while it remained high in Whatcom County, dropped considerably after the defeat of Initiative 49 in Washington State. Throughout the United States, the Klan also lost a big majority of its members, largely because of national scandals and corruption of its leadership. The Klan faced a huge decrease in the size of its secret society, going from over two million members to only a couple hundred thousand within a year.[45] Too, the Immigration Act of 1924 sharply restricted immigration to the United States based on a regressive and unwieldy quota system that limited immigration to 2% of that race or nationality’s population according to the 1890 census and excluded East Asians and Asian Indians completely. [46] Though Klan activity in Washington had centered on anti-Catholicism, the Act nationally neutralized one of the Klan’s main platforms for recruitment, namely, the threat of large-scale immigration.[47] The internal conflicts among members of the Klan and public scandals involving its leadership added to its decline in the mid-1920s. The Ku Klux Klan from the beginning was a corrupt organization, where its leaders cared more about personal gain than from the benefits of the organization as a whole, despite the organization’s preaching about living a corruption-free life. Also, the loyalty to the local group far outweighed the loyalty to the national organization, which made it hard for national leaders to exercise control and consistency of the group as a whole. It also led to factions of the group breaking off and forming groups similar to the Klan, which the Klan did not tolerate. The corruption from the top since the beginning led to many public battles, which did not bode well for a secret organization like the Klan. As historian David Chalmers writes,

Almost invariably internal disputes brought a flurry of charges and countercharges in the press and in the courts. Not only was it harmful to the Klan to have its dirty linen always being washed in public, but the spectacle of a secret, terrorist organization settling its internal problems in court was not one to inspire fear or respect.[48] A perfect example of corruption from the top happened in 1927 when, as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center, A group of rebellious Klansmen in Pennsylvania broke away from the invisible empire and [Imperial Wizard Hiram Wesley] Evans promptly filed a $100,000 damage suit against them, confident that he could make an example of the rebels. To his surprise the Pennsylvania Klansmen fought back in the courts and the resulting string of witnesses told of Klan horrors, named members and spilled secrets. Newspapers carried accounts of testimony… and the enraged judge threw Evans’ case out of court.[49] In general, the nature of the Klan as a violent, secret organization with little national power as an organization and a corrupt and power-hungry leadership led to its ultimate decline during the mid-to-late 1920s. In Washington State, the defeat of Initiative 49, combined with the scandals, worked together to reduce the Klan’s size and power drastically. Initiative 49 in Washington and the anti-Catholic bill in Oregon are an example of how far some groups will go to force their ideology onto others. The Ku Klux Klan wished for all children between the ages of seven and sixteen to attend public schools in their district because they believed that this would assimilate the Catholic children into proper Americans and stoke anti-Catholic fears among a wider layer of people who could be won toward Klan ideas. Yet by the time the bill was proposed in Washington, the Klan faced a strong coalition of forces, bringing together labor, religious, governmental, and media organizations in the state. That the Klan could not put together a similar coalition of forces in support of the bill shows their inability to win broad layers of supporters to their political program and anti-Catholic ideology. This coalition, combined with the Federal Court’s ruling against the Oregon School Bill, combined to defeat the Klan’s initiative and to hinder the dissolution of the Klan in Washington State. Copyright (c) 2006, Kristin Dimick History 498B, Fall 2006

[1] David Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley: A 1920s Phenomena,” White River Journal (January 2004), White River Valley Museum, WA: [http://www.wrvmuseum.org/journal/journal_0104.htm]. [2] Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley,” 2.

[3] Francis Paul Valenti, The Portland Press, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Oregon Compulsory Education Bill: Editorial Treatment of Klan Themes in the Portland Press in 1922 (University of Washington, 1993), 68. [4] M. Paul Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy 1922-1925,” Pacific Historical Review, no.37 (1968): 333. [5] “Document #8. The Bitter and the Sweet: Minutes from the LaGrande KK Meeting, January 26, 1923.” [http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/OSC/document8.htm], August 18, 2005. [6] Valenti, The Portland Press, 86. [7] Valenti, The Portland Press, 83 [8] Valenti, The Portland Press, 84. [9] Valenti, The Portland Press, 85. [10] Valenti, The Portland Press, 86. [11] Valenti, The Portland Press, 87. [12] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [13] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [14] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [15] “Action Started to Test Validity of Oregon Law, Hill Military Academy and Holy Names Ask Injunction,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924. [16] “Action Started to Test Validity of Oregon Law, Hill Military Academy and Holy Names Ask Injunction,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924. [17] “New Arguments in Amended Brief Filed at Portland,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 25, 1924. [18] “Strong Decision Upholds Parental and School Rights,” Catholic Northwest Progress, April 4, 1924. [19] Ryan Kuttel, Preserving Public Morality: The Ku Klux Klan of Washington and their Anti-Catholic School Bill, (Bellingham: Western Washington University, 2000), 15-16. [20] “Father of Anti-School Petition Drops Dead in Home,” Catholic Northwest Progress, February 8, 1924. [21] “Problems Voters Must Decide,” The Seattle Daily Times, November 2, 1924. [22] “State Press Condemns Ku Klux Efforts to Stir up Hatred,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924.

[23] “Washington Newspaper Men Renew Pledge to Promote Spirit of Unity,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 14, 1924. [24] “Washington Newspaper Men Renew Pledge to Promote Spirit of Unity,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 14, 1924. [25] “Masons will Oppose Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 16, 1924. [26] “Lutherans and Advents Oppose Ku Klux Measure,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 7, 1924. [27] “Labor Council Opposes K.K.K. Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 23, 1924. [28] “Labor Council Opposes K.K.K. Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 23, 1924. [29] “Spokane Organized to Fight Klan Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 20, 1924. [30] “Tacoma to Carry on in Fight on Klan School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, July 4, 1924. [31] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [32] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [33] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [34] “Publication of 350 Names Leads Many to Withdraw,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 6, 1924. [35] “Publication of 350 Names Leads Many to Withdraw,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 6, 1924. [36] “Klan Anti-School Bill will go on November Ballot,” Catholic Northwest Progress, August 1, 1924. [37] “REGISTER!” Catholic Northwest Progress, August 15, 1924. [38] “An Important Duty,” Catholic Northwest Progress, September 2, 1924. [39] “A Treacherous Ballot Title,” Catholic Northwest Progress, September 9, 1924. [40] “Shortest, Safe Way to Vote,” Seattle Daily Times, November 2, 1924. [41] “Initiative 49 Would Injure Public Schools Vote ‘AGAINST’,” Seattle Daily Times, November 3, 1924. [42] “Washington Decisively Defeats Klan Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, November 7, 1924.

[43] J. Grant Hinkle, Washington Secretary of State “Abstract of Votes Polled in the State of Washington at the General Election Held November 4, 1924.” [44] Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley,” 7. [45] “Document #8. The Bitter and the Sweet: Minutes from the LaGrande KKK Meeting, January 26, 1923.” [http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/osc/document8.htm], August 18, 2005. [46] Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton Unviersity Press, 2004), ch. 1. [47] Ngai, Impossible Subjects, ch. 1. [48] Chalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987), 296. [49] Southern Poverty Law Center. “A Hundred Years of Terror,” [http://www.iupui.edu/~aao/kkk.html], 2001. Copyright (c) 2006 Kristin Dimick History 498B, Fall 2006

[1] David Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley: A 1920s Phenomena,” White River Journal (January 2004), White River Valley Museum, WA: [http://www.wrvmuseum.org/journal/journal_0104.htm]. [2] Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley,” 2. [3] Francis Paul Valenti, The Portland Press, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Oregon Compulsory Education Bill: Editorial Treatment of Klan Themes in the Portland Press in 1922 (University of Washington, 1993), 68. [4] M. Paul Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy 1922-1925,” Pacific Historical Review, no.37 (1968): 333. [5] “Document #8. The Bitter and the Sweet: Minutes from the LaGrande KK Meeting, January 26, 1923.” [http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/OSC/document8.htm], August 18, 2005. [6] Valenti, The Portland Press, 86. [7] Valenti, The Portland Press, 83 [8] Valenti, The Portland Press, 84. [9] Valenti, The Portland Press, 84.

[10] Valenti, The Portland Press, 84. [11] Valenti, The Portland Press, 85. [12] Valenti, The Portland Press, 86. [13] Valenti, The Portland Press, 87. [14] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [15] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [16] Holsinger, “The Oregon School Bill Controversy,” 333. [17] “Action Started to Test Validity of Oregon Law, Hill Military Academy and Holy Names Ask Injunction,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924. [18] “Action Started to Test Validity of Oregon Law, Hill Military Academy and Holy Names Ask Injunction,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924. [19] “New Arguments in Amended Brief Filed at Portland,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 25, 1924. [20] “Strong Decision Upholds Parental and School Rights,” Catholic Northwest Progress, April 4, 1924. [21] “Strong Decision Upholds Parental and School Rights,” Catholic Northwest Progress, April 4, 1924. [22] Ryan Kuttel, Preserving Public Morality: The Ku Klux Klan of Washington and their Anti-Catholic School Bill, (Bellingham: Western Washington University, 2000), 15-16. [23] “Father of Anti-School Petition Drops Dead in Home,” Catholic Northwest Progress, February 8, 1924. [24] ”Father of Anti-School Petition Drops Dead in Home,” Catholic Northwest Progress, February 8, 1924. [25] “Problems Voters Must Decide,” The Seattle Daily Times, November 2, 1924. [26] “State Press Condemns Ku Klux Efforts to Stir up Hatred,” Catholic Northwest Progress, January 18, 1924. [27] “Washington Newspaper Men Renew Pledge to Promote Spirit of Unity,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 14, 1924. [28] “Washington Newspaper Men Renew Pledge to Promote Spirit of Unity,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 14, 1924. [29] “Masons will Oppose Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 16, 1924.

[30] “Lutherans and Advents Oppose Ku Klux Measure,” Catholic Northwest Progress, March 7, 1924. [31] “Labor Council Opposes K.K.K. Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 23, 1924. [32] “Labor Council Opposes K.K.K. Anti-School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, May 23, 1924. [33] “Spokane Organized to Fight Klan Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 20, 1924. [34] “Tacoma to Carry on in Fight on Klan School Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, July 4, 1924. [35] Ben H. Britton et al, “Arguments on Behalf of Proponents of Initiative Measure Number Forty-Nine”, filed on July 17, 1924, in the State of Washington Pamphlet for the November 5, 1924 election, compiled by Secretary of State J. Grant Hinkle (Olympia: Frank M. Lamborn, 1924), 5. [36] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [37] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [38] Britton, “Arguments,” 5. [39] “Publication of 350 Names Leads Many to Withdraw,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 6, 1924. [40] “Publication of 350 Names Leads Many to Withdraw,” Catholic Northwest Progress, June 6, 1924. [41] “Klan Anti-School Bill will go on November Ballot,” Catholic Northwest Progress, August 1, 1924. [42] “REGISTER!” Catholic Northwest Progress, August 15, 1924. [43] “An Important Duty,” Catholic Northwest Progress, September 2, 1924. [44] “A Treacherous Ballot Title,” Catholic Northwest Progress, September 9, 1924. [45] “Shortest, Safe Way to Vote,” Seattle Daily Times, November 2, 1924. [46] “Initiative 49 Would Injure Public Schools Vote ‘AGAINST’,” Seattle Daily Times, November 3, 1924. [47] “Washington Decisively Defeats Klan Bill,” Catholic Northwest Progress, November 7, 1924. [48] J. Grant Hinkle, Washington Secretary of State “Abstract of Votes Polled in the State of Washington at the General Election Held November 4, 1924.”

[49] Norberg, “Ku Klux Klan in the Valley,” 7. [50] “Document #8. The Bitter and the Sweet: Minutes from the LaGrande KKK Meeting, January 26, 1923.” [http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/osc/document8.htm], August 18, 2005. [51] Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton Unviersity Press, 2004), ch. 1. [52] Ngai, Impossible Subjects, ch. 1. [53] Chalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987), 296. [54] Southern Poverty Law Center. “A Hundred Years of Terror,” [http://www.iupui.edu/~aao/kkk.html], 2001.

Initiative 49, proposed and backed by Washington State's Klan chapters, was aimed at marginalizing Catholics, and would have eliminated private schools and forced those children into public schools. I-49 faced widespread opposition, and this cartoon from the Seattle Daily Times, November 2, 1924, illustrates one of the main arguments against the Initiative: that the measure would force giant tax increases onto state taxpayers in order to move children from their current schools into the public system. (c. 1924) [Click on images to enlarge]

Part of the Seattle Civil Rights Project's special section, The Washington State Klan in the 1920s Click the link above to go to the special section, which includes rare photographs, newspaper clippings, and documents on the Klan in the 1920s; histories and research reports; and a gallery of newspaper clippings related to the Initiative 49 campaign.

A copy of Initiative 49, containing arguments for and against the bill, which was put to a vote on November 4, 1924. Click the image to view the whole document as a pdf. (Courtesy of the Washington State Archives).

Luther I. Powell, the leader of the Washington Klan organization. The Klan hoped to build support for its nativist program by passing the anti-Catholic school Initiative 49, modeled after a similar law that passed in Oregon in 1922. However, they failed to build much support outside of their own organization, and the bill was defeated, followed shortly by the withering of Klan activity in the state. (Image is from the Klan's newspaper, Watcher on the Tower, August 27, 1923, p. 3.)

An anti-Initiative 49 advertisement from the Bellingham Herald, which ran on page 12 of the paper the night before the election on November 4, 1924. The advertisement

shows the widespread opposition to the bill, and argues against it on the basis of taxpayer spending and education.

This article from the Bellingham Reveille, from September 24, 1924, (page 1), reports on a coalition of religious leaders in Seattle who opposed the Initiative en masse. In addition to federal courts that declared a similar bill, passed two years earlier in Oregon, unconstitutional, religious, publishing, and civic leaders opposed the bill as an attack on civic liberties and Catholics.

An article from the Yakima Morning Herald from August 10, 1924, arguing against Initiative 49 "because citizens--no matter who they are--have the right to educate their children in either public or private schools" deemed adequate by authorities. Despite the Klan's efforts to tap into anti-Catholic hysteria to bring in support for the bill, newspapers and educators came together to defend both Catholics and civic liberties around education.

The Catholic Northwest Progress, the main Catholic newspaper in the Northwest, played a large role in informing Northwest Catholics about the passage of a similar bill in Oregon in 1922 and the Klan's efforts to pass one in Washington State. On the front page of their October 3, 1924 issue, they printed a large article urging citizens to register in order to vote against the bill.

An article from the Northwest Progress from October 24, 1924, reporting on the formation of a new Voters' Educational League foremd in Pierce County to oppose the Klan's I49. Note their rejection of anti-Catholic propaganda.

An October 24, 1924 article from the Catholic Northwest Progress, reporting on Catholic-school-educated Babe Ruth's recent visit to Seattle, in which he argued against Initiative 49.

A November 3, 1924 editorial in the Bellingham Herald that condemns the KKK as part of the "crowd that has captured and is running Seattle," and advocates voting against I49 to limit the power of Seattle over the rest of the state. Contrary to how we would see things today, the KKK is lumped together here with other progressive reformers interested in more state control over citizens' affairs.

The front page of the Catholic Northwest Progress from November 7, 1924, announcing that "Washington Decisively Defeats Klan Bill."

On November 6, 1924, just after the defeat of I49, the Bellingham Reveille argued that the measure's defeat would allow many of the Klan's followers to drop away from the organization. The defeat of the measure showcased the Klan's ultimate political ineffectiveness in the state, and marked their decline in Washington.

The official tally of votes, organized by county, from the November 1924 election. Initiative 49 was roundly defeated, and only eight out of forty-nine counties in the state passed it. (Courtesy of the Washington State Archives) http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/kkk_i49.htm