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Anna Yang

Period 5


The Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1866, was a group of white supremacists whose
membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide, at its peak in the 1920s. Confederate
veterans, in Pulaski, Tennessee, were the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1866. The
confederates started Ku Klux Klan as a social club, they derived the name from the Greek word
kyklos, meaning circle, it was also informally known as Klan or the hooded order. The
organization began during the second phase of post civil war Reconstruction. Most of the
members saw themselves in holding American values and Christian mortality.

The first Ku Klux Klan sought to restore white supremacy with the use of threats and
violence, along with murder, towards mainly African Americans. Klan groups spread throughout
the South during the Reconstruction era. The United States sought to suppress Klan activity by
enforcing the Force Act in 1870-1871. This prosecution of Klan crimes were able to suppress
Klan activity, however in 1874 new active paramilitary organizations emerged such as the White
League and the Red Shirts. This contributed to segregationist white Democrats regaining
political power. In 1915, the second Klan was founded in Atlanta, Georgia. They grew rapidly,
adapting as a modern business system spreading nationwide, and mainly in cities. Their
purpose of their rekindling were from social tension and vast immigration. The second KKK
worshiped the idea of "One Hundred Percent Americanism," and ordered for the purification of
politics, calling for strict morality and better enforcement of prohibition. Some local groups took
part in attacks on private houses and carried out our violent acts. These violent acts mostly
occurred in the South. The Second Klan were the first to embrace a burning Latin cross. The
cross represented the Klan's Christian message, and the light from the burning cross was
accompanied by prayer and singing of hymns. The third KKK which came to in 1950s-1960s,
these local groups opposed the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation. Many members of
the KKK groups were convicted of murder in deaths of civil rights workers and children in the
bombing of 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham.

Many perceived the KKK as a "terrorist organization," due to their commitments of
robbery and blowing a natural gas processing plant. The klan members adopted masks and
robes that hid their identities and added to the drama of their overly exaggerated night rides.
The Klan normally operated in small towns and at times their faces were still recognizable.
Many Ku Klux Klan night riders were claimed as "ghosts of Confederate soldiers." They were
mainly known to attack black members of the Loyal League and were hostile figures towards
Southern Republicans and Freedmen's Bureau workers. In 1868 two years after the Klan's
creation their activity actually began to decrease they began using the mask and robe in a way
to hid from prosecution from any of their violent activities. While the people used Klan as a mask
for nonpolitical crimes, state and local governments rarely acted against them. Then there was
the Second Klan who saw a threat in every direction. Which is when they established anyone
who wasn't white they had to be diminished, they were also known as white supremacists. Due
to the massive immigration of Catholics and Jews from eastern and southern Europe which lead
to fears among Protestants. The Klan organizers would sign up hundreds of members, who paid
initiation fees and received KKK costumes in return. The Klan's growth was later on affected by
the mobilization of World War I and postwar tensions. Historians have agreed that the Klan's
reemergence in the 1920s was aided by the national debt over prohibition.


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Ku Klux Klan. (2014, January 1). . Retrieved June 1, 2014, from

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