Laura Martin Rose served as the historian and president of the Mississippi Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and wrote a textbook in which she defended the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. Rose also belonged to the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) and the Mississippi Memorial Literary Association.
Born on 18 September 1862 outside Pulaski, Tennessee, Laura Marcella Martin married fellow Tennessean Solon Edward Franklin Rose, who became a planter in Lowndes County, Mississippi. They had three children. In 1909 Laura Rose published a pamphlet on the Ku Klux Klan, with proceeds from its sale supporting the construction of a Confederate monument at Jefferson Davis’s Mississippi home, Beauvoir. In response to the popularity of this pamphlet, Rose wrote a textbook, The Ku Klux Klan, or Invisible Empire (1914), which she intended for southern children to read. The UDC endorsed the textbook at its 1913 national convention and advocated its use in southern schools. Rose echoed sentiments expressed by novelist Thomas Dixon and Dunning School scholars, arguing that African Americans, encouraged by carpetbaggers, terrorized law-abiding southern whites during Reconstruction and that the Klan sought to restore order and preserve the purity of the white race. According to Rose, the Klan committed acts of violence only after exhausting all other options. This interpretation constructed African American men as responsible for racial violence during Reconstruction. Rose believed that her work offered southern boys a model for proper behavior—that is, they should commit acts of violence if necessary to preserve justice and defend southern women from the advances of African American men.
In recognition of her efforts to preserve the southern past, Rose succeeded Mildred Rutherford as the historian-general of the UDC in 1916, but her tenure was cut short by her death on 6 May 1917.
- Karen Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (2003)
- James B. Lloyd, ed., Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817–1967 (1981)
- Mrs. S. E. F. Rose Subject File, Mississippi Department of Archives and History