When the Klan came to recruit in New York City

You have to hand it to John F. Hylan, the city’s mayor in the early 1920s.

When a Klan recruitment office reportedly opened in 1922 in the Hotel Hermitage on Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, Hylan, a Tammany politician, ordered his police commissioner to “drive them out of our city.”

“The people of the city of New York will not tolerate their existence within the confines of our metropolis,” he wrote in a telegram reprinted in the New York Times.

“Do not leave a stone unturned to ferret out these despicable, disloyal persons who are attempting to organize a society the aims and purposes of which are of such a character that were they to prevail, the foundation of our country would be destroyed.”

The Klan fired back. A minister representing them said he intended to continue his “campaign for members.”

The campaign didn’t seem to amount to much, according to a look back at Times articles.

In December 1922, the pastor of the tony Washington Avenue Baptist Church in Clinton Hill invited a robed and masked Klansman to speak to his congregation.

That month, the Times also spoke to an Upper West Sider, A. Edward Wupperman, who was holding Klan meetings in his luxury apartment building at 57 West 75th Street (above).

And in June 1923, a headline proclaimed that “100,000 Klansmen” planned a parade in the city, but there’s no evidence a parade of any size actually happened.

Until 1999, that is. That’s the year when 18 Klan members, vastly outnumbered by protesters and media, held a silent hooded rally near City Hall (right, in a UPI photo)

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5 Responses to “When the Klan came to recruit in New York City”

  1. M.M. Says:

    While the mayor’s sentiment is admirable, it isn’t much of a surprise. The Klan in those days was heavily anti-Catholic as well as anti-Jewish and anti-black. I would presume that Tammany as well as the police department had lots of Irish Catholics who weren’t going to put up with that stuff.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Yes, thanks for writing in about that. I guess what surprised me is that he was very firm off the bat about not wanting them in NYC. I doesn’t seem as if he wasted a second making it clear they are not welcome.

  3. Ruth Edebohls Says:

    A. Edward Wupperman was the brother of actors Francis Wupperman (Frank Morgan) and Rafael K. Wupperman (Ralph Morgan). Frank was, of course the original Wizard of Oz in the 1939 movie. All three are buried in the family plot at Green-Wood cemetery. I will be visiting their grave this Saturday, Sept. 17, on a tour I’m giving at Green-Wood.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for the info. I guess Wupperman was not a very Hollywood-friendly name back then.

  5. Klan a Point of Contention at the Democratic National Convention | The Gatsby Gazette Says:

    […] When the Klan came to recruit in New York City Ephemeral New York (Blog) […]

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