A competitor to the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Order of Clansmen was founded in San Francisco in 1915 as a “patriotic, social and benevolent secret society.” The year is significant, since 1915 saw the appearance of the movie Birth of a Nation, a masterpiece of racist propaganda that portrayed the original Ku Klux Klan of the post-Civil War South as heroic defenders of white culture against bestial black hordes. Birth of a Nation inspired Col. William Simmons to launch the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the most successful Klan revival, in Georgia, and probably played the same role on the other side of the country in bringing the American Order of Clansmen into being.
Under pressure from the revived Klan, the American Order reorganized itself as a fraternal beneficiary order in 1919, discarded the white robes and hoods of the original Klan, and focused on patriotic causes. Never very large or successful, it seems to have gone out of existence sometime in the 1920s.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006