Episode 98 continued: D.C. and D. W.

First entry for episode 98: D. C. Stephenson and the Klan

A Secret Society History of the Civil War * Mark Lause

Just like hobos, tramps, and bums, there is a difference between carpetbaggers and scalawags. Carpetbaggers were whites from the North who supported Reconstruction and the Republican Party, and scalawags the same from the South. That’s a simplistic definition; here’s the more complete economic and political picture from history.org.

Origin of the sheets: The Klan wanted to scare blacks by pretending to be ghosts of soldiers from the Battle of Shiloh. Because they haven’t been through enough to be properly cowed.

Forrest_&_Maples_listingThe Best Friend, Joshua, again helped with the research, and dug deeper into the fact that the First Imperial Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was dismayed by the ugly direction that the Klan took:

General Nathan Bedford Forrest versus the Ku Klux Klan

Forrest’s speech to the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association (which became the NAACP), July 5, 1875:

Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself.

Coverage of the speech in the Memphis Daily

So, yes, the first head of the Klan changed his mind about racism. He really did. People can change, yo.

Thank you, Joshua, as usual and always.


Okay, deep breath. Second wave: Welcome, D. C. Stephenson. I use the word welcome very, very loosely.

He ruined the Klan’s image as law-abding citizens by murdering Madge Oberholtzer, and snitching (I just wanted to use the word snitch today, thank you for that) and taking half of the politicians of Indiana down with him. Also, by letting the cat out of the bag with regards to the Klan’s appointed titles. No one was too impressed to find that they had been doing underhanded political dealings with someone who referred to himself as the Grand Cyclops. That last part is my story and I am sticking to it.

Klan titles and vocabulary

But, before he kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered his friend, Madge Oberholter, he attended a play by Thomas Dixon, Jr, The Clansman. So did D. W. Griffith, who secured its rights and turned it into the racist-inspiring movie Birth of a Nation.

Thanks to archive.org, D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) is available to view online. It may be the most racist footage to ever come out of Hollywood (if it’s not, please school me), but I think it is important to at least view as much of it as you can stand. Its propaganda sheds a lot of light on the strength of the Klan, the Omaha Riot, and other such events where violence was easily encouraged by suggesting that white vaginas were endangered by marauding black men who lack all self-control

A television miniseries was made about Madge’s murder: Cross of Fire. She was played by Mel Harris, D. C. by John Heard.

Examination of another secret society that flourished in the wake of the Civil War: Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War * David Keehn

Given the timing of this entry, with the GOP debate, I leave you with this quote from the Socialist Oscar Ameringer, who got caught up in this perfect storm:

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.

Next post for 98: my mother and mother-in-law’s personal Klan stories, from the 1930’s and the 1960’s.




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