Inside the Klavern is an annotated collection of the minutes of a thriving Ku Klux Klan in La Grande, Oregon, between 1922 and 1924. The most complete set of Klan minutes ever uncovered, these documents illustrate the inner workings of a Klan chapter of more than three hundred members at a time when the national membership reached into the millions and the Invisible Empire was at the peak of its power. Through an extensive introduction and conclusion as well as brief notes previewing each installment of the minutes, David A. Horowitz places these unique documents in historical perspective.
The La Grande minutes demonstrate Klan hostility to Roman Catholics, Jews, blacks, and "hyphenated" Americans. But they also explain how the chapter exercised requirements for admission, how officers were selected, and how Klansmen encountered difficulties enforcing the moral standards of their order. Because the Klan kligrapp (recording secretary) Harold R. Fosner recorded not only the official proceedings but also volunteered extemporaneous comments and gossip, readers get a genuine feeling for what it was like to attend the meetings. Through his own obvious excitement and commitment to the cause, Fosner re-creates the flavor, tone, and atmosphere of these meetings: "Tis beyond my power of expression to relate the harmony and fellowship which reigned supreme. . . . Suffice to say that these were the golden moments of our lives."
His evaluation of Klan propaganda, too, is telling: "The weekly newsletter from Atlanta, Georgia, contained a little book, the official message of our emperor, one Col. William Joseph Simmons, read before the most noble band of men ever assembled and for the noblest cause in the world. To my firm belief this book is the leading masterpiece of our day and age."
Horowitz concludes that "although it is tempting to judge Jazz Age Klansmen by the standards of later generations, the story provided by the minutes is a complex one— a chronicle of both compassion and complicity in cruelty, of positive social accomplishment and arbitrary and dysfunctional divisiveness."