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 short-lived, it was a powerful anti-immigrant, 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. 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 African-American 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.