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History of the Ku Klux Klan

By Maria_1969 Oct 22, 2014 1593 Words

Alejandra Gonzalez
History 108
25 August2014
Ku Klux Klan
In 1865, a native-born American racist terrorist organization that became known as the Ku Klux Klan was founded by William Nathan Bedford a former confederate general. The Ku Klux Klan is one of the oldest and most feared groups in America. The KKK is a group that has used violence and actions above the law to support their cause. It was after the Civil War when the clan grew out from the South, with the purpose to “protect and preserve the white races and the termination of blacks, Catholics, and Jews”. They were motivated by the dream of a world with only one race. Ever since 1866 in the year 1870 the Ku Klux Kan extended into almost every southern state and was said that helped overthrow republican reconstruction era policies in the south (Remini 219). Then once again the KKK revived in the 1920’s after a period of declined. The KKK movement revived and became a “Nationwide political power”. Although, it may be hard to believe the Klu Klux Klan started as an aimless and fun Social Club. That fun Social Club with the years became known for it’s violence against people who were not white and even those who associated with them. The clan identified themselves as the White Knites, they dressed themselves and their horses in white sheets as they rode around neighborhoods, specificaly those where African Americans lived. However the Klan was known to be very secretive and careful for others to know their real identity, for which they gained the name of “The Invisible Empire”. It somewhat became the sensation, and the KKK movement quickly began to grow with the help of their leader William Nathan Bedford. Although, slavery was abolished, unfortunatly racism was not. This movement wanted to overtun the new Republican state goverment and “ eliminate black men out of politics, control black labor,and restore black subordination. It was founded by a group of six ex former confederate officers as a way to “ relieve the stress of the time” (Maclean 142). What began as a simple idea to cheer people up after the horyfying after math of the Civil War, soon turned out to be an attempt to bring back the old South. After the Civil War, Southerners were greatly affected by the Civil war especially since most of the war took place in the South. Many lost thier homes and plantations as well as their loved ones due to the war. The name of the Klu Klux Klan arose derived from the Greek word ‘ klyklos’ meaning circle (Remini 209). The first KKK movement arose in 1865 as a result of the post-Civil War known as the Reconstruction. One of the most radical aspects of the Reconstruction in the late 1860’s was African Americans’s involvement in the south , as the blacks won election to southern state goverments and even to the U.S congress (MaClean52). The KKK threatened to get rid of everyone in th South who did not support them. Therefore, the Klan created and underground campainge of violence against both white and black Republican leaders and voters, with the purpose of reversing the Radical Reconstruction policies and restore white supremacy in the South. The Klan’s threats were not only verbal, actions were taking place. They began to bring fear to people by stealing their goods, beating them, and even killed them. The Klan used lynching as their form of murder, they dragged the person to the center of the town and hung them in front of everyone. People were lynched, and beaten for no more than being a certain race, nationality or religion. Latinos, Jews, Roman Catholics were also KKK targets. Regions in the South in which blacks were a minority group had strong Klan activity. In 1871, South Carolina had the strongest Klan activity. With such violence, Radical Republicans struck back in Congress, passing the Enforcement and Ku Klux Klan Acts. This Act to protect African American rights and as well report the Klan’s violence. This helped to bring a decline in violence but enough to completly terminate it. With the white supremacy gradually reasserted its hold on the South as support for Reconstruction in 1871, by the end of 1876, the entire South was under Democratic control once again. The Klan spread all across the country and ran many towns. The Klan had spread to the Midwest and any place that had the same views and conflicting pespective of African Americans migrants and European and Asian immigrants. The Ku Klux Klan’s was taking control, their power became stronger than the town's own government and law itself. In 1915, the silent film ‘Birth of Nations’ inspired by D.W Griffith potrayed hatred towards African Americans and glorified the KKK as the ones who restored the Southern rights. In Georgia William Richard Simmons revived the Klan in 1915. (David 132). Woodrow Wilson was a pro Klan follower and stated that "The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation ... until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country” (Remini 269). The second arising of the Klan in the 1920’s was had a much greater goal than the first movement. While the first movement of the KKK focused specificaly on the termination of blacks in the south, the new Klan’s goal focused on freeing America of all non-white, Christian Americans. It was said taht the new Klan was much greater and powerful than the one from the Reconstruction Era. There were about “ 4 million Klansman in 1920 , with it’s increasing in growth in just a few years there was 6 million Klansman by 1924” (Remini 269). Especially since during the the 1920’s several politicians honored the Klan. Aside from Woodrow Wilson, President Harding was said to be and honoring Klansmen (Remini 218). The Klans greatest influence was developed in smalled towns and rural areas. They beleived that not everything said in the bible was true, they had a fundamentalist perspective. In 1925, fundamentalist pushed a law that prohibited public schools to teach about the theory of Darwin; ‘survival of the fittest’ in the legislature of Tennesee. The Ku Klux Klan movement was at it’s peak. During 1954, the Klan continued to boost up when the Supreme Court supported the ruling that public school being segregated. The Klan had more power than even the Supreme Court and even the Goverment because many were more afraid of the ‘ Invisible Empire’s ‘ threats of death if they did not support their patriotic views. When the Civil Rights Movement flowered in the Deep South in the 1960s, the Klan was there to meet it. Its members enjoyed what initially amounted to general immunity from arrest, prosecution and conviction. However, in Missisipi and Alabama the Ku Klux Klan’s violence was all around the newspaper and television. In 1964, the Klans violence helped create Public Accomidations, and the Civil Rights Bill (Voting) in 1965 (Jackson 63). After so long federal troops were able to helpe the Mississippi establish terms with the civil rights revolution due to the Klans fear. However, the Klan continued to stand strong and a reinterpretation of the fouteenth Amendment and of the Reconstruction Era Civil Right laws was asked to the Supreme Court by the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1968, the court broadened the federal power to protect civil rights and suggested that the Congress pass more protective law (Jackson 70). In the late 1900’s, several murder cases were collected in State Courts and political changes arose in the South. As well as the south in 2005, the Missisipi finished off the “Philadelphia Klan trials with the conviction of Edgar Ray Killen” (Remini 300). Even though the KKK is great weakened compared to the 1920’s the twenty-first century still holds the sharing of the “anti-Semitism, anti-Latino and other ideologies of the Aryan Nations, Christian Identity, neo-Nazis and other violent organizations of the extreme right” (Wade 83 ). Today the Ku Klux Klan still commit acts of intimidation and violence. Even without funds and scattered participation, it has not been an impediment for the Klan to nonetheless remain an atual and historic symbol of racist terrorism today. The Ku Klux Klan’s ideology was and continues to be that “All of Christian Civilization depends upon the preservation and upbuilding of the White Race, and it is the mission of the Ku Klux Klan to proclaim this doctrine until the White Race shall come into its own” (George152 ). The KKK beleives that the distinction among the races are not accidental if not desined. They stand strongly for white supremacy, although it may be in silence they will be the dark side to American History and reamain as “ The Invisible Empire”. Wor Cited

David Mark Chalmers. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke University Press, 1981. George, John, and Laird M. Wilcox. American extremists: Militias, supremacists, klansmen, communists & others. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. Jackson, Kenneth T. The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930. Vol. 123. Rowman & Littlefield, 1967. Remeni, Robert Vincent, and Robert Vincent Remini. A Short Story of the United States New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.Print. MacLean, Nancy. Behind the mask of chivalry: The making of the second Ku Klux Klan. Oxford University Press, 1995. Wade, Wyn Craig. The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America. Oxford University Press, 1998.

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