The 1941 text describes the organizations and is clear about their methods and how the community perceived their power. From page 126:
The Ku Klux movement included a number of secret organizations of which the Ku Klux was the best known, and of which the Knights of White Camellia were the most numerous. [...] In general, the Ku Klux was the organization of north Alabama and Tennessee, and the Knights of the White Camellia was the organization of south Alabama and of Louisiana. In any case, the purpose of all these organizations was much the same. Night riding, intimidation, and whippings were sometimes resorted to, but the very names of the organizations sufficient to improve the behavior of many wrongdoers.
um... if these shadowy groups were running around intimidating and whipping citizens, exactly whose behavior needed "improving?"
The Ku Klux movement eventually disbanded for several reasons. First, there grew up the false klans, groups of men who used the robes of these organizations to rob and to revenge personal spites.
Nice to know the KKK was so assiduous in guarding their good name and reputation, isn't it?
Second, the spectacular methods of the Ku Klux furnished ammunition for propaganda for the radicals to use to convince the voters in the North that they should send soldiers into the South.
There's that word again: spectacular.
Third, more effective means of restoring white rule were found in the later work of the White Man's Movement. These were unspectacular but effective methods of political cooperation...
Their "unspectacular" crowning achievement? The 1901 Alabama Constitution that plagues us even today.
Ok. Now let's fast forward (assuming that's even possible in Alabama) to 1961, a scant 20 years later. Somehow, a textbook written during Alabama's days of infamy as ground zero of the Civil Rights Movement manages to gloss over the role of the KKK and other domestic terrorist organizations.
While the 1941 text spent several of its 400 pages discussing the "spectacular" efforts of the Klan, Alabama History for Schools totally disses the role of the night riders. They get just a few paragraphs. From page 344:
There were also many smaller organizations which had no formal connections with either the Ku Klux or the Knights, but the purposes of all were similar.
And those were? I guess with only 644 pages in the book, there just wasn't room to describe them.
The Ku Klux movement should not be confused with the organization after World War I which borrowed its name and its methods for different purposes.
What were those methods again? oops... no space available!
The Ku Klux of Reconstruction days was not anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, or anti-foreign. It was anti-Radical.
The most important reason for the ending of the Ku Klux movement was that a better method of combating Radicals was discovered in the one-party system. Men, who before the war had been Whigs, Democrats, Know Nothings, Secessionists, and Anti-Secessionists all banded together as Conservative Democrats. Many Negroes supported them.
Define "many," please. Yikes... there's that space problem again... And hey! Looks like membership in the early Klan was open to Catholics, Jews, and foreigners. Wonder how many joined?
Notice that the 1961 text (both books were written by the same author, Charles Grayson Summersell), deleted any sort of description of the "methods" of the KKK and how "spectacular" they were.
Rewriting history.... one of the world's oldest sports.
In Part 4 - which I promise won't take a year to write - we'll find out more about the state got saddled with our 1901 Constitution. Here's a hint: according to the "history books," it's all the "Negroes" fault....
Oh, and hats off to Mark Kelly at Weld for Birmingham. Quite independently of our LIA series, he found an old Alabama history book and was as horrified as I was.
Tattered Pages of Checkered History
..I was struck by the thought of how many of Alabama’s white children of that era had their minds warped by a system that was supposed to be fulfilling the higher mission of education — that is, inculcating a notion of the broadness and fullness of the world and providing students with the intellectual grounding to function as productive members of the human enterprise. Instead, we got a generation of white kids who were urged to think about how neat it would have been to grow up the scion of a slave owner.
Yep. And we're still fighting that battle today.