Patricia Bernstein, Houston author and historian, will be reading from her new book, Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Ku Klux Klan, on Friday, March 17, at 7 PM at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet Street. The book is being published by Texas A & M University Press.
Ten Dollars to Hate, in a remarkably apt tale for our own time, tells the story of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan, the only mass-movement incarnation of the Klan with millions of members all across the United States, not just in the Deep South. The 1920s Klan was not only racist, but also virulently anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant. The group also set itself up as a moral arbiter, punishing violators of traditional moral codes, such as bootleggers, moonshiners, vagrants and gamblers, wife beaters and deserters, abortionists and adulterers. The 1920s Klan took over law enforcement and the municipal government of many cities and towns across the country, elected Klan-sponsored governors and sent Klan-sponsored senators to Washington.
The book is framed by the story of one brutal assault by klansmen and the trials that followed. On Easter Sunday 1923, klansmen kidnapped and viciously flogged a young World War I veteran who was accused of having an affair with a local widow. Both were white.
A 29-year old Texas district attorney and forgotten hero, Dan Moody, became the first prosecutor in the U.S. to succeed in convicting klansmen for assault and getting them serious prison time in a series of tense trials in Georgetown. Moody became a national sensation overnight and, in 1926, was elected the youngest governor Texas ever had at the age of 33. There was even talk of running him on a national ticket with Franklin Roosevelt. Moody used his intimate knowledge of the law and his powerful courtroom presence to confront and defeat one of the great evils of his time – serving as an inspiration for our own difficult times.