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An overview of the ku klux klan clan

See Article History Alternative Title: One group was founded immediately after the Civil War and lasted until the 1870s; the other began in 1915 and has continued to the present.

The organization quickly became a vehicle for Southern white underground resistance to Radical Reconstruction. Klan members sought the restoration of white supremacy through intimidation and violence aimed at the newly enfranchised black freedmen. A similar organization, the Knights of the White Camelia, began in Louisiana in 1867.

  • A similar organization, the Knights of the White Camelia, began in Louisiana in 1867;
  • See Article History Alternative Title;
  • AP Images The Klan was unable to stem the growth of a new racial tolerance in the South in the years that followed;
  • AP Images The Klan was unable to stem the growth of a new racial tolerance in the South in the years that followed.

Library of Congress, Washington, D. The group was presided over by a grand wizard Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest is believed to have been the first grand wizard and a descending hierarchy of grand dragons, grand titans, and grand cyclopses.

Dressed in robes and sheets designed to frighten superstitious blacks and to prevent identification by the occupying federal troops, Klansmen whipped and killed freedmen and their white supporters in nighttime raids. The 19th-century Klan reached its peak between 1868 and 1870. A potent force, it was largely responsible for the restoration of white rule in North CarolinaTennessee, and Georgia. Local branches remained active for a time, however, prompting Congress to pass the Force Act in 1870 and the Ku Klux Act in 1871.

These bills authorized the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpussuppress disturbances by force, and impose heavy penalties upon terrorist organizations. Grant was lax in utilizing this authority, although he did send federal troops to some areas, suspend habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties, and appoint commissioners who arrested hundreds of Southerners for conspiracy.

Word Origin

In United States v. Harris in 1882, the Supreme Court declared the Ku Klux Act unconstitutional, but by that time the Klan had practically disappeared.

  • It disappeared because its original objective—the restoration of white supremacy throughout the South—had been largely achieved during the 1870s;
  • A burning cross became the symbol of the new organization, and white-robed Klansmen participated in marches, parades, and nighttime cross burnings all over the country.

It disappeared because its original objective—the restoration of white supremacy throughout the South—had been largely achieved during the 1870s. The need for a secret antiblack organization diminished accordingly.

Ku Klux Klan

The 20th-century Klan had its roots more directly in the American nativist tradition. It was organized in 1915 near AtlantaGeorgia, by Col.

The new organization remained small until Edward Y. Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler brought to it their talents as publicity agents and fund raisers. The revived Klan was fueled partly by patriotism and partly by a romantic nostalgia for the old South, but, more importantly, it expressed the defensive reaction of white Protestants in small-town America who felt threatened by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and by the large-scale immigration of the previous decades that had changed the ethnic character of American society.

Griffith Corporation This second Klan peaked in the 1920s, when its membership exceeded 4,000,000 nationally, and profits rolled in from the sale of its memberships, regalia, costumes, publications, and rituals.

Ku Klux Klan

A burning cross became the symbol of the new organization, and white-robed Klansmen participated in marches, parades, and nighttime cross burnings all over the country. The Klan enjoyed a last spurt of growth in 1928, when Alfred E. Smitha Catholic, received the Democratic presidential nomination. A Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony, 1920s. There were numerous instances of bombings, whippings, and shootings in Southern communitiescarried out in secret but apparently the work of Klansmen.

Johnson publicly denounced the organization in a nationwide television address announcing the arrest of four Klansmen in connection with the slaying of a civil-rights worker, a white woman, in Alabama. AP Images The Klan was unable to stem the growth of a new racial tolerance in the South in the years that followed.

Though the organization continued some of its surreptitious activities into the early 21st century, cases of Klan violence became more isolated, and its membership had declined to a few thousand. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: