During the late the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, French Canadians migrated to the United States to fill existing labor gaps in New England’s textile mills. By the 1920s, French Canadians and Franco-Americans dominated textile labor in Maine. Despite its general rural cultural landscape, the modernism of the 1920s did come to influence the lived-experience of Maine’s French-speaking population. Urban centers like Lewiston-Auburn, Portland, and Bangor were urban-industrial towns that tended to be oppositional to the state’s more rural and conservative demographic. This sparked a general counter-movement among Maine’s conservative Protestant population. Similar to other rural regions in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan played a role in this conservative backlash against Maine’s immigrant and Catholic population. Historians of race hatred, immigration, modernism, and labor articulate that the desire for an unskilled labor force, mixed with fears of modernism and Catholicism created a scenario for the Ku Klux Klan to oppose French Canadians and Franco Americans in Maine for a brief, but significant part of the 1920s.
Dr. Brian Payne, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Thomas Nester, Committee Member
Dr. Leonid Heretz, Committee Member
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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Best, Erin. (2018). “Only a Passing Idiocy”: The Ku Klux Klan in Maine State Politics. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 411. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/411
Copyright © 2018 Erin Best