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Word Count: 675
The Ku Klux Klan was very prominent and active in Southern Illinois in the 1920s Many head officials and authorities were sympathizers of the Klan or part of the Klan themselves However one might ask how the Klan rose to such a high position in this area of the country during the time period especially in the town of Herrin Illinois Because the Klan promised many different improvements to the people of Herrin the Klan was able to control the town as its own and was accepted as ultimate authority In 1923 when the KKK rose to power in southern Illinois their beliefs were eye to eye with the townspeople Both were primarily Protestant and both hated and resented immigrants especially Italians who drank wine and made up twenty percent of Herrins population Among the Klan rose fear of all who were not Protestant calling all other religions crazy Patriotism was also a key element of the Klan in post World War I era and hatred for immigrants from Europe was popular and in full force The Klan slogan of 100 percent American became a common saying and allowed others to take out their misfortunes on the immigrants Because of a similar religious and cultural background and an overwhelming patriotism the Klan was able to prosper in southern Illinois After the passing of the 18th amendment Prohibition crime was at an all time high Bootlegging gambling and prostitution were common especially at roadways and other secret hideouts Gangsters such as Charlie Birger and the Shelton Brothers enjoyed extreme power and were often above the law due to bribes and corruption The crime ring seemed to center around Williamson County Illinois and the townsfolk grew restless as it struggled continuously to control it In spite of this drastic problem the Klan offered a simple and swift solution They proposed that a series of raids would take place under federal authority and stop all illegal and undesirable
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