Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Humphrey, Thomas

Subject Headings

American History, American Studies, History, Modern History


White nationalism has played a critical role in shaping United States politics for over 150 years. Since the Reconstruction era, whites have fought to maintain their power and superiority over minorities. They influenced U.S. politics by attempting, and in some cases succeeding, to prevent minorities from voting. Moreover, politicians began to help them. This became most evident in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when Republican Donald J. Trump appealed to racist white voters, gained their support, and won the election. Those voters, who united as the Alt-Right, supported Trump because he appealed to them by playing on their fear of becoming a minority in their country. This thesis traces white nationalism back to Reconstruction. It analyzes the memberships of separate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederates, and Citizens’ Councils to show how and why those various groups united as the Alt-Right to support Trump in the 2016 election. This study examines the writings of various white nationalists, including their Twitter accounts, to identify their goals and how they spread their ideology. This work also analyzes race as a political concept and identity by investigating how politicians appealed these groups. Ultimately, this thesis illustrates the presence and significance of white nationalism in United States politics and how it culminated in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.