Honors College Theses

Date

2021

Major

History (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Lisa Denmark

Abstract

In 1915, William Simmons reestablished the Ku Klux Klan atop Stone Mountain after 50 years of inactivity. By the 1920s, the organization’s membership grew from a few thousand to several million across the United States. During its expansion, the Klan shifted from a fraternal organization into a vigilante group. The intensification of Klan violence coincided with the election of Thomas William Hardwick as governor of Georgia. In response to an uptick in Klan-associated crime, Hardwick attempted to establish anti-Klan policies. Klan members criticized Hardwick throughout his term and supported his opponent, Clifford Walker, a Klan member, for governor in 1922. Hardwick's political career never fully recovered from his fight with the Klan.

Thesis Summary

As governor of Georgia, Thomas Hardwick established anti-Klan policies in response to an increase in Klan-associated crime. In return, the Klan criticized Hardwick throughout his term and supported his opponent, Clifford Walker, a Klan member, for governor in 1922. Hardwick's political career never fully recovered from his fight with the Klan.

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