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In 1926, the College of William & Mary accepted and used a flagpole donated by the Ku Klux Klan, but President Julian A. C. Chandler repudiated KKK politics in his remarks during the ceremony. "College presidents sometimes face difficult decisions, knowing that whatever they decide, someone will be angry. Such was the case for William & Mary President Julian Chandler in 1926 when the Ku Klux Klan offered the College a U.S. flag and a flagpole. The Klan, notorious for its anti-black activities in the late 1800s, had revived in the 1920s, broadening its hatred to encompass immigrants and Catholics. Despite his dislike of the KKK, Chandler decided to accept their gifts for reasons he explained in a letter to Richmond newspaper editor Douglass Southall Freeman. More than 5,000 people attended the presentation ceremony. Chandler used his speech to lecture the KKK on the virtues of tolerance and diversity.1

In March 1959, the flagpole was removed from its College Corner location (Jamestown Road side) to be re-erected in the Marshall-Wythe parking lot in order to fly the Virginia state flag. Prior to this time, the state flag had never been flown on campus. 2

Material in the Special Collections Research Center

  • "Flagpoles," University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Office of the President, J.A.C. Chandler Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • The Flat Hat.


  • Conflict and Controversy from the exhibit "A Most Thriving & Growing Place": Williamsburg Before the Restoration.
  • Flat Hat, 1959 March 10 issue, page 11

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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.