1. The Idea Behind Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain before the Confederate Memorial.
Publication of the Second Founding of the Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mount, GA.
The Organizer and the New Leader of the Second Founding of the Ku Klux Klan

Dublin Core

Title

1. The Idea Behind Stone Mountain

Description

The surrounding area of Stone Mountain has always attracted human settlement for thousands of years. Native Americans from the nations of the Cherokee, Creek and Muscogee had long settled the area at around 8,000 years before white settlers moved in in the early 19th century. White settlers eventually drove the Native American settlers out and by the 1830s established a series of quarries to mine the mountain’s granite. After the Civil War Stone Mountain was sold to the Stone Mountain Granite Corporation for $45,400 in 1867. Then nine years later it was sold again for $70,000 to the Southern Granite Company, owned by the brothers Samuel and William Venable.[1]
After the Civil War a group of former Confederate officers in Pulaski Tennessee, formed themselves into a fraternal social club, named the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). This small club gained popularity and spread throughout the American South during Reconstruction, spreading fear and terror targeting former black slaves. Eventually, by the mid-1870s through Federal action the Klan declined and evaporated.[2]

Early in 1915 a controversial film directed by D.W. Griffith, was released, “The Birth of a Nation”, adapted from the 1905 novel, The Clansman, by the white supremacist politician and Baptist minister Thomas Frederick Dixon Jr. The film depicts a romanticized heroic view of the Ku Klux Klan, the “Lost Cause” and depicts African Americans as brutes and sexual predators. This film was one of the first to be screened at the White House, under President Woodrow Wilson. The president received backlash for the screening, his official response was the screening "...was a courtesy extended to an old acquaintance." His "old acquaintance" was no other than Thomas Frederick Dixon Jr.[3]
Inspired by the film a former religious teacher, William Joseph Simmons, decided to reform the KKK. With a founding membership of 15 individuals on Thanksgiving night on top of Stone Mountain, with permission from the Venable brothers who were also members, a cross was set on fire to commemorate the second founding of the Ku Klux Klan.[4] According to reports of the day the ceremony could be seen all the way to Atlanta. By marking Stone Mountain as the site of the second founding of the KKK, this large granite mountain has became a de facto sacred site of the American white supremacy movement.[5]

Source

1. Powers, Benjamin, “In the Shadow of Stone Mountain: The past, present, and future of the African-American community are nestled beneath the country’s largest Confederate monument”, Smithsonianmag.com , May 4, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/shadow-stone-mountain-180968956/.
2. Michael Martinez, Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan: Exposing the Invisible Empire During Reconstruction. (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007) p. 24.
3. "Dixon's Play is Not Indorsed by Wilson", The Washington Times, Apirl 30, 1915, P. 6,
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/30252267/wilson-and-birth-of-a-nation-at-the/
4. McKinney, Debra "Stone Mountain. A Monumental Dilemma". Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Spring 2018. No. 164, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2018/stone-mountain-monumental-dilemma?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvLDD9KrJ7QIVQxatBh2BPwpoEAAYASAAEgIxB_D_BwE.
5. Loewen, James W., Lies Across America: What our Historic Sites Get Wrong. (The New Press, 1999).

Contributor

Fernando L. Lopez

Identifier

HIST 402A Fall 2020

Coverage

1915-1916

Geolocation