The book “The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest” by Alexander is a comprehensive discussion about the Klan. The book looks at the rise to power of the empire of the Ku Klux Klan in every part of the US, in the early twentieth century.
Alexander tells us of the process that involved very many members worldwide pledging to its doctrine; the hostility targeted at African Americans, Roman Catholics, foreign immigrants, and ideological radicals in addition to an aggressive, often fierce, resolve to safeguard conventional moral values and impose the new nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages.
The book by Charles Alexander, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest, written in 1965 was one of the waves of revisionist scholarship that obliterated the theories carried by early scholars, that the Klan secret society was tremendously rural and fundamentalist. Other books that did the same were The Ku Klux Klan in the City by Kenneth Jackson in 1967, and Crusade for Conformity by Alexander Charles in 1962.
Unlike the other two books, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest does not discuss the events that took place in west of Texas. The book portrays the Klan as urban, national and organized, unlike the earlier scholars viewed it. According to Alexander, the Klan activities in some parts of the South like Oklahoma and Texas showed little hostility towards the Negroes.
Alexander tells us that the Klan was more focused with reform in terms of “preserving premarital chastity, marital fidelity, and respect for parental authority; to compel obedience of state and national prohibition laws; to fight the post-war crime wave; and to rid state and local governments of dishonest politicians”.
The book informs the reader of the many implications of the Klan, among them being their close association with the local law enforcement, which made them a part of the state government. In addition to this, the book examines factors leading to the rapid growth of the Klan, from a small regional organization in the early twentieth century, (1910s), to a large and national group in the 1920s, including the effect of the First World War.
In his book, Alexander argues that in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, the main incentive for the unusual expansion was the focus on the moral status quo. The book focuses its study on a particular region, which helps the author, Alexander, to expound on the processes of how the “Klan’s night-riding vigilantism, political activism, fraternal fellowship, substantial charitable work, and vocal support for what it defined as Protestant Americanism appealed to a disillusioned, post-World War middle-class society”.
Alexander’s book is quite detailed though the author failed to look into the Klan trials in the Walton papers. This can be due to his unawareness of the location of the Klan trial transcripts. I recommend this book to people who would like a comprehensive report of the Klan activities, since Alexander carried out an extensive research on the topic.
Alexander is however, no different from other historians. This is because his book focuses on Walton’s political intentions in attacking the Klan. This perspective leads him to conclude his book in a manner similar to other historians in the early twentieth century, claiming that political concerns led to tragic penalties. “Walton picked up the Klan as the issue to recoup his failing political fortunes. His irresponsible actions brought the state close to civil war”.