KKK Issue Divides Democratic Party Convention
The 1924 Democratic Party Convention was thrown into turmoil over a fight about the Ku Klux Klan. Specifically, the delegates were split over a resolution proposed by northern and western delegates that condemned the Klan by name. Southern segregationist delegates fought back and killed that resolution. After a tumultuous debate, the party adopted a plank on this day that “deplore[d] and condemn[ed] any effort to arouse religious or racial dissension,” but did not mention the Klan by name. (The debate on the Klan and the contentious issue of the League of Nations began on Saturday evening July 5th and did not end until 2 a.m. Sunday morning, July 6th.)
The fact that one of the two major political parties was so seriously divided over the issues was an indication of the political power of the Klan in the 1920s. (See the Klan’s march in Washington, D.C., on August 8, 1925.) The convention selected John W. Davis as its presidential candidate, a prominent Supreme Court litigator who, in his last appearance before the Court, argued in favor of “separate but equal” in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case (May 17, 1954).
Read about the debacle at the 1924 Democratic Party Convention: Robert K. Murray, The 103rd Ballot: Democrats and the Disaster in Madison Square Garden (1976)
Read the 1924 Democratic Party Platform: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29593
Learn more about the history of the Klan: David Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: the History of the Ku Klux Klan (1987)
Watch a documentary on the KKK in the 1920s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQJX8v0sC3Q
Learn more about the Klan today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan