Georgetown Press proudly announces the forthcoming release of
Dan Moody: Crusader for Justice
The 1920s Ku Klux Klan was a nation-wide secret organization that openly preached white supremacy and hatred for blacks, Jews, Catholics, immigrants and law-breakers. At its peak in 1925 and 1926, it had up to three million members. It was active in all 48 states.
The Klan controlled state government in Indiana, Oregon and Colorado, it had a strong presence in Chicago (up to 50,000 members), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles. There was enough Klan power to deadlock the 1924 Democratic National Convention and at the height of its national power, Klansman marched 40,000 strong down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Dan Moody was the first district attorney in the nation to successfully prosecute members of the 1920's Klan. After beating them in the courtroom, he engineered a massive electoral defeat of Klan candidates in the 1924 Texas elections. Moody took Texas from being the number-one Klan state at the beginning of 1924 to the most anti-Klan state in the country by the end of 1924. As the first state to deal the Klan a setback, Moody and Texas inspired anti-Klan opponents throughout the United States in their eventually successful attempts to destroy the 1920's Klan elsewhere. Moody also fought the public corruption of the Ferguson administration and, ultimately, was elected Texas' youngest governor.
Konvicted: How Dan Moody Destroyed the Klan in Texas
Imagine 170,000 hate-filled Texans organized
into a secret, very powerful society. A society that openly preached white
supremacy and hatred for blacks, Jews, Catholics and immigrants. A society so
powerful that its members and friends controlled local and county politics,
dominated the Texas Legislature, and elected a U.S. senator. A society that
kidnapped and beat those who disagreed with them and, because they controlled
local law enforcement, did so without fear of prosecution.
That nightmare was reality in Texas in 1922. The Ku Klux Klan controlled politics, committed vigilante violence with impunity, and was poised to take over state government from the governor’s office on down in the 1924 election.
Now imagine Governor Pat Neff just appointed you district attorney of Travis and Williamson counties. Your predecessor resigned mid-term in frustration over his inability to obtain an indictment against Klansmen who had openly committed a murder in downtown Austin. Oh, and the Travis County sheriff and Austin police commissioner, both known Klansmen, had been held in contempt of court for impeding that murder investigation.
That is precisely the situation that confronted Dan Moody in 1922. Here is the story of a remarkable career that saw Moody take on the Klan, first in the courtroom, then at the ballot box, and then fight public corruption to rise from an obscure county attorney to Texas’ youngest governor.
Daniel J. Moody was born on June 1, 1893, to Daniel James Moody and Nancy Elizabeth Robertson Moody in the then-fast-growing railroad town of Taylor, where he would spend his childhood. He attended The University of Texas from 1910-14, where he was a member of the Hildebrand Law Society and later vice president of the Cofer Law Society. Without completing his law degree, he left school, passed the bar exam, and formed a law partnership with Harris Melasky, a childhood friend, in Taylor.
Moody developed a good reputation as a lawyer. During World War I, he recruited a company of soldiers. They were training in Arkansas when the Armistice was declared. Moody returned to his practice.
The year 1920 marked two important events in Moody’s career. He began his political career when, at age 27, he became the youngest person ever to serve as Williamson County attorney. It also was the year the Ku Klux Klan entered Texas.
The original Ku Klux Klan was a relatively short-lived loose confederation of terrorist groups that sprang up in the South as a response to Reconstruction. It originated in Tennessee in 1866 and had ceased to function as an organization by 1870. Atrocities committed during its reign of terror, mainly directed against freedmen but occasionally against white sympathizers, included the murder of 300 blacks in the area outside New Orleans and the murders of 163 blacks in one Florida county.
During the 35 years after the Klan ceased to exist, a myth developed in the South that the KKK was a group of noble heroes who had stopped Reconstruction.
Thomas Dixon’s racist novel, The Clansman, perpetuated this myth when it was published in 1905. The modestly successful novel was adapted into D.W. Griffith’s wildly successful 1915 movie, Birth of a Nation. Suddenly, the myth of the noble Ku Klux Klan jumped the Mason-Dixon line and spread to all of America. ...