The Washington State Klan during the 1920s was part of the second of three waves of KKK activity in America. The second KKK was founded in 1915 and gained significant membership immediately following World War I. Though short-lived, it was a powerful anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-radical, white supremacist organization that promoted “100 percent Americanism.”
The second KKK claimed over 4 million members across the country; briefly dominated state legislatures of Colorado, Indiana, and Oregon; and in 1924 shaped presidential politics and helped pressure politicians to pass the most severe immigration restriction in the history of the United States. Following immigration restriction and a series of leadership scandals, the second KKK collapsed and was largely moribund by 1928.
The parades in Washington DC were held on the 8th August 1925 and 13th September 1926 and marshalled between 50 000 and 60 000 members. H.L. Mencken described the marches in the New York Sun:
The Klan put it all over its enemies. The parade was grander and gaudier, by far than anything the wizards had prophesied. It was longer, it was thicker, it was higher in tone. I stood in front of the treasury for two hours watching the legions pass. They marched in lines of eighteen or twenty, solidly shoulder to shoulder. I retired for refreshment and was gone an hour. When I got back Pennsylvania Avenue was still a mass of white from the Treasury down to the foot of Capitol Hill – a full mile of Klansmen…