The Klan of Terror

Topics: Ku Klux Klan, Racism, Southern Poverty Law Center Pages: 7 (2624 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Klan of Terror

Over the years many people have created groups to support their beliefs. These groups allow people with the same ideas to gather together and work out plans to advance their ideas. All of the groups that have been established have not necessarily gained a positive image from the public. One example is the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan originated over one hundred years ago and has gone through many eras and changes since its beginning. Although many people know the Ku Klux Klan exists, they do not understand its purpose or how it has changed throughout its life.

After the Civil War ended, the Southern states went through a time known as Reconstruction. Ex-Confederate soldiers had returned home now, and they were still upset about the outcome of the war. It is at this point in time that the Ku Klux Klan became a part of everyday life for many Southerners. In the beginning the Ku Klux Klan was started to be a way for people who had the same views to spend time together. The original members meant of the Ku Klux Klan to be a "hilarious social club" that would be full of aimless fun (Invisible Empire, p.9), though in later years the Ku Klux Klan became known for their violence against people outside the white race and people who associated with them. Contrary to what most people believe, the Ku Klux Klan was started because of a few people wanted to have some innocent fun, not because they were intending to start a chain of violence on anyone outside the white race.(The Klan, p.2)

The Ku Klux Klan began in Pulaski, Tennessee, a small town south of Nashville. On the night of December 24, 1865 six ex-confederate soldiers were sitting around a fireplace it the law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones.(Invisible Empire, p.9) These six friends were having a discussion and were trying to come up with an idea to cheer themselves up. One of the men suggested that they should start a club and the rest of the men agreed with the idea. After discussing the mew idea, the men decided to meet again and retired for the night. The second meeting was again at Judge Thomas M. Jones' law office and was attended by the same six men. During this meeting the group decided it needs a name. After many hours of deliberating they decided on the name derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle Ku Klux.("Intro. to the Knights of the KKK", p.2) The group later added "Klan" to the word to make the phrase complete. At this time the group decided what to call the different ranks of the members, starting with the leader, the Grand Cyclops, all the way down to the ghouls, or members of no rank. When the men had finished organizing, they were overjoyed about their group, and they decided to show everyone their creation. The members wrapped themselves and their horses in sheet and rode through the small town and terrified everyone, especially Negroes. No doubt, this is the harmless little club that later would be taken to extremes by its members.

Admittedly, the Ku Klux Klan did become out of control in later years, but when it was first created it had no specific meaning; it was a way just to have fun. After the members saw the effect the group's appearance had on people, they began to use the results to their advantage. Because the Klan resembled ghost, many of the citizens of Pulaski believed them to be dead soldiers of the Confederate Army when they saw them riding on their horses through the small town. While Negroes were busy avoiding the Ku Klux Klan, its purpose changed. The Ku Klux Klan began aiming its violent actions toward Negroes, Jews, Orientals, and various other members of society that did not belong to the white race. Although violence was already occurring against non-whites before the organization of the Ku Klux Klan, the Klan used this fact as a way to keep their "enemies" under control. No one denies that the Ku Klux Klan became a brutal force over the years, but the fact remains that violence was not...

Bibliography: New York: Franklin Watts, 1981.
Connecticut: John E. Edwards, 1969.
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