Ku Klux Klan stages huge rally in Issaquah on July 26, 1924.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 9/22/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1682

On July 26, 1924, the Ku Klux Klan, an all-white, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic organization, promises to "put Issaquah on the map" with a rally that draws onlookers conservatively estimated at 13,000. (Issaquah is located in King County, east of Lake Washington and just south of Lake Sammamish.)

According to the Issaquah Press, those attending are "entertained" by "stirring, patriotic music" from a 32-piece band, a play by school children, and speeches "on Americanism" so that "law-abiding citizens" can "get first-hand evidence by which they may form their opinions of the Klan." The event is announced ahead of time in the Issaquah Press and in the Seattle Star. A similar rally will take place the following night in Chehalis.

The Klan was and is a racist organization which originated in the South during Reconstruction after the Civil War as a means of terrorizing freed slaves and Union sympathizers. The original Ku Klux Klan disappeared by the 1880s, but it was resurrected in 1915. The Klan's racism reflected a defensive attitude by Protestants in small towns against the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (1917) and against Irish Catholic immigrants who arrived in America during the nineteenth century and Eastern Europeans, Italians, and Jews who arrived from the 1880s to 1920.

They Did Not Show Their Faces

Members of the Ku Klux Klan wore white sheets and hoods as a uniform and to conceal the identities of members -- some of whom were community leaders and officers of the law -- when they committed illegal, often violent acts, and when they terrorized African Americans, Jews, Roman Catholics, foreign-born immigrants, and organized labor. As many as 4,000,000 Americans joined the Klan in the 1920s, and almost every American small town saw some Klan activity.

The Klan organized in Issaquah in April 1924 at a meeting upstairs in the Mercantile Building on Front Street. The rally in July was staged one mile west of Issaquah (near the present [1999] Park and Ride lot) and was designed as a "Konklovation" in which 250 Klansmen were to be initiated. As part of the ceremony a "fiery" electric cross 40 feet high and 27 feet wide was illuminated and the show climaxed with a $1,000 fireworks show. Deputy sheriffs maintained order and hooded Klansmen directed traffic, which clogged roads for two hours following the rally.

Klan Harasses Issaquah Catholics

A Catholic store owner in Issaquah was harassed by Klansmen. Klansmen made midnight visits to Catholic families in the area. Catholic dairy farmers experienced difficulties in having their milk picked up, and instead it was allowed to spoil.


Sources:

Issaquah Press, July 24, 1974; Ibid., March 12, 1980.


Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You