Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Vol 2, No 1 (2011)

Freemasonry and the Second Ku Klux Klan in California, 1921-1925

Adam G. Kendall
Issued Date: 22 May 2011


There is a profound misunderstanding regarding the relationship between
freemasonry and the second Ku Klux Klan that rose to prominence in
1915 and carried on until the late 1920s. Within the long, dark shadow of
American ethnic and cultural conflicts, fraternal and patriotic organizations,
with their own idealized mythological identities combined with the
entrenched and accepted nativist sentiment of that era, became embroiled
in an American struggle for identity. America is a nation of joiners and has
been proud of this distinction, for a large part of its social infrastructure has
been built through the efforts of communal organizations and associations.
Furthermore, these volunteer associations have been influenced by freemasonry
through a natural cross-pollination of members, which, in turn,
has influenced the American character of that auspicious fraternity. This
is especially true during the golden age of American fraternalism into
the early twentieth century. Consequently, confusion has arisen over the
determination of what point certain fraternities’ true purposes begin, end,
and overlap. Analyzing primary documents and correspondence found in
the archives of the Grand Lodge of F & AM of California, this paper will
give a first person overview of the problems that arose when the Ku Klux
Klan attempted to gain prominence in California freemasonry in the 1920s.
Pandering to the societal fears of white Protestants while mimicking the
benevolent fraternal societies, the Klan gained sympathy amongst enough
California freemasons to cause their Grand Lodge to take controversial
action by forbidding its members from being associated with it. The paper
will address the ideologies of the Klan and American freemasonry, and
how its dual members attempted to reconcile and justify their need for both
organizations to compliment one another. Because of their incongruous
core philosophies and purpose, the research demonstrates the success California masons had in ousting the Klan from freemasonry in California.
This success came from the Klan’s own insistence that it was a ‘fraternal
society’ while it did little to eschew its subversive activities, or its hateful
and notorious past. Therefore, the Klan’s subterfuge stood in contrast to
every mason’s promise to submit to the rule of the law of his country.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/jrff.v2i1.123


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy