Founded at Clinton, Iowa in 1887, the APA was an anti-Catholic secret society motivated by fears that the Roman Catholic Church sought to dominate American politics and erase barriers between church and state. It pursued immigration restrictions, removal of tax exemption from Catholic churches, and “public inspection of all private institutions where persons of either sex are secluded, with or against their will” (a reference to media stories about Catholic monasteries and nunneries). By 1896 it had a membership between one and two million, and could count 20 known members in the US Congress.
Unlike the revived Ku Klux Klan, which took up the anti-Catholic banner after the First World War, the APA did not combine its anti-Catholicism with racism; in northern states, black men were admitted to full membership, while south of the Mason–Dixon line the APA organized separate white and black Councils (local lodges). The APA remained a significant force in American politics until the First World War but was eclipsed thereafter.
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