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Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan

Overview
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary
Reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

 currents such as white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

, white nationalism
White nationalism
White nationalism is a political ideology which advocates a racial definition of national identity for white people. White separatism and white supremacism are subgroups within white nationalism. The former seek a separate white nation state, while the latter add ideas from social Darwinism and...

, and anti-immigration
Nativism (politics)
Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. It may also include the re-establishment or perpetuation of such individuals or their culture....

, historically expressed through terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is classified as a hate group
Hate group
A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society...

.

The first Klan flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s.
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Encyclopedia
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary
Reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

 currents such as white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

, white nationalism
White nationalism
White nationalism is a political ideology which advocates a racial definition of national identity for white people. White separatism and white supremacism are subgroups within white nationalism. The former seek a separate white nation state, while the latter add ideas from social Darwinism and...

, and anti-immigration
Nativism (politics)
Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. It may also include the re-establishment or perpetuation of such individuals or their culture....

, historically expressed through terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is classified as a hate group
Hate group
A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society...

.

The first Klan flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats
Pointed hat
Pointed hats have been a distinctive item of headgear of a wide range of cultures throughout history. Though often suggesting an ancient Indo-European tradition, they were also traditionally worn by women of Lapland, the Japanese, the Mi'kmaq people of Atlantic Canada, and the Huastecs of Veracruz...

, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the civil rights movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA's "Anglo-Saxon" and "Celtic
Celtic nations
The Celtic nations are territories in North-West Europe in which that area's own Celtic languages and some cultural traits have survived.The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common traditional identity and culture and are identified with a traditional...

" blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claiming descent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

. The first and third incarnations of the Klan have well-established records of engaging in terrorism and political violence, though historians debate whether the tactic was supported by the second KKK.

First KKK


The first Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski is a city in Giles County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 7,870 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Giles County. It was named to honor the Polish-born American Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Pułaski...

, as a terrorist organization
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 by veterans of the Confederate Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

. They named it after the Greek word kuklos
Kuklos
Kuklos means "ring" or "circle" in Greek, and can refer to:*Kuklos Adelphon, a Southern US fraternity that eventually became The Kappa Alpha Order.*Kuklos Anankes, the circle of necessity in Mysticism*The Kuklos, a revolving restaurant in the Swiss Alps...

, which means circle. The name means "Circle of Brothers."

Although there was no organizational structure above the local level, similar groups arose across the South, adopting the name and methods. Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement during the Reconstruction era in the United States. As a secret vigilante
Vigilante
A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

 group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

. In 1870 and 1871 the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes. Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity. In 1874 and later, however, newly organized and openly active paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organizations, such as the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

 and the Red Shirts, started a fresh round of violence aimed at suppressing blacks' voting and running Republicans out of office. These contributed to segregationist white Democrats regaining political power in all the Southern states by 1877.

Second KKK


In 1915, the second Klan was founded and remained a small organization in Georgia. Starting in 1921, it adopted a modern business system of recruiting (which paid most of the initiation fee and costume charges to the organizers) and grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity. Reflecting the social tensions of urban industrialization and vastly increased immigration
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

, its membership grew most rapidly in cities, and spread to the Midwest and West out of the South. The second KKK preached Americanism and purification of politics, with strong racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, anti-Catholicism
Anti-Catholicism
Anti-Catholicism is a generic term for discrimination, hostility or prejudice directed against Catholicism, and especially against the Catholic Church, its clergy or its adherents...

, anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

, nativism
Nativism (politics)
Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. It may also include the re-establishment or perpetuation of such individuals or their culture....

, and antisemitism. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses and carried out other violent activities. The violent episodes were generally in the South.

The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization
Fraternal and service organizations
A "fraternal organization" or "fraternity" is a brotherhood, though the term usually connotes a distinct or formal organization. Please list college fraternities and sororities at List of social fraternities and sororities.-International:...

, with a national and state structure. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men. Internal divisions, criminal behavior by leaders, and external opposition brought about a collapse in membership, which had dropped to about 30,000 by 1930. It finally faded away in the 1940s.

Third KKK


The "Ku Klux Klan" name was used by many independent local groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 and desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama. Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham
16th Street Baptist Church bombing
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S...

. Today, researchers estimate that there may be approximately 150 Klan chapters with upwards of 5,000 members nationwide.

Today, a large majority of sources consider the Klan to be a "subversive or terrorist organization". In 1999, the city council of Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

 passed a resolution declaring the Klan to be a terrorist organization. A similar effort was made in 2004 when a professor at the University of Louisville
University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky. When founded in 1798, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. The university is mandated by the Kentucky General...

 began a campaign to have the Klan declared a terrorist organization so it could be banned from campus. In April 1997, FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 agents arrested four members of the True Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Dallas for conspiracy to commit robbery and to blow up a natural gas processing plant.

Creation and naming



Six well-educated Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski is a city in Giles County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 7,870 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Giles County. It was named to honor the Polish-born American Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Pułaski...

, created the original Ku Klux Klan on December 24, 1865, during Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. The name was formed by combining the Greek (κύκλος, circle) with clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

. The group was known for a short time as the "Kuklux Clan." The Ku Klux Klan was one among a number of secret, oath-bound organizations using violence, including the Southern Cross in New Orleans (1865) and the Knights of the White Camelia
Knights of the White Camelia
The Knights of the White Camelia was a secret group of the American South from 1867 through about 1870, similar to and associated with the Ku Klux Klan, supporting white supremacy and opposed to Republican government....

 (1867) in Louisiana.

Historians generally see the KKK as part of the postwar insurgent
Insurgent
Insurgent, insurgents or insurgency can refer to:* The act of insurgency-Specific insurgencies:* Iraqi insurgency, uprising in Iraq* Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, uprising in India* Insurgency in North-East India...

 violence related not only to the high number of veterans in the population, but also to their effort to control the dramatically changed social situation by using extrajudicial means to restore white supremacy. In 1866, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 Governor William L. Sharkey
William L. Sharkey
William Lewis Sharkey was an American judge and politician from Mississippi.-Biography:He was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, where he and his family lived until they moved to Warren County, Mississippi, when he was six years of age. In 1822, he was accepted into the bar at Natchez...

 reported that disorder, lack of control and lawlessness were widespread; in some states armed bands of Confederate soldiers roamed at will. The Klan used public violence against blacks as intimidation. They burned houses, and attacked and killed blacks, leaving their bodies on the roads.


In an 1867 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Klan members gathered to try to create a hierarchical organization with local chapters eventually reporting up to a national headquarters. They elected Brian A. Scates to be the Leader and President of this organization. Since most of the Klan's members were veterans, they were used to the hierarchical structure of the organization, but the Klan never operated under this centralized structure. Local chapters and bands were highly independent.

Former Confederate Brigadier General George Gordon
George Gordon (Civil War General)
George Washington Gordon was a general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. After the war, he practiced law in Pulaski, Tennessee, where the Ku Klux Klan was formed. He became one of the Klan's first members...

 developed the Prescript, or Klan dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

. The Prescript suggested elements of white supremacist belief. For instance, an applicant should be asked if he was in favor of "a white man's government", "the reenfranchisement and emancipation of the white men of the South, and the restitution of the Southern people to all their rights." The latter is a reference to the Ironclad Oath
Ironclad oath
The Ironclad Oath was a key factor in the removing of ex-Confederates from the political arena during the Reconstruction of the United States in the 1860s...

, which stripped the vote from white persons who refused to swear that they had not borne arms against the Union. Gordon was said to have told former slave trader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self-educated, innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate in the postwar years...

 about the Klan. Forrest allegedly responded, "That's a good thing; that's a damn good thing. We can use that to keep the nigger
Nigger
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people , and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur...

s in their place." Forrest went on to become Grand Wizard
Grand Wizard
Grand Wizard was the title given to the leader of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan which existed from 1866 to 1871.In 1915, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was created, initially as a fraternal organization. The highest-ranking leader of the latter organization was the Imperial Wizard. National...

, the Klan's national leader.

In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated that the Klan's primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 state governments, people like Tennessee governor Brownlow
William Gannaway Brownlow
William Gannaway "Parson" Brownlow was an American newspaper editor, minister, and politician who served as Governor of the state of Tennessee from 1865 to 1869 and as a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1869 to 1875...

 and other carpetbagger
Carpetbagger
Carpetbaggers was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877....

s and scalawag
Scalawag
In United States history, scalawag was a derogatory nickname for southern whites who supported Reconstruction following the Civil War.-History:...

s. He argued that many southerners believed that blacks were voting for the Republican Party because they were being hoodwinked by the Loyal Leagues. One Alabama newspaper editor declared "The League is nothing more than a nigger Ku Klux Klan."

Despite Gordon's and Forrest's work, local Klan units never accepted the Prescript and continued to operate autonomously. There were never hierarchical levels or state headquarters. Klan members used violence to settle old feuds and local grudges, as they worked to restore white dominance in the disrupted postwar society. The historian Elaine Frantz Parsons describes the membership:
Lifting the Klan mask revealed a chaotic multitude of antiblack vigilante
Vigilante
A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

 groups, disgruntled poor white farmers, wartime guerrilla bands, displaced Democratic politicians, illegal whiskey
Rum-running
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

 distillers, coercive
Coercion
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. In law, coercion is codified as the duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way...

 moral reformers, sadists, rapists
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, white workmen fearful of black competition, employers trying to enforce labor discipline, common thieves, neighbors with decades-old grudges, and even a few freedmen and white Republicans who allied with Democratic whites or had criminal agendas of their own. Indeed, all they had in common, besides being overwhelmingly white, southern, and Democratic, was that they called themselves, or were called, Klansmen.


Historian Eric Foner
Eric Foner
Eric Foner is an American historian. On the faculty of the Department of History at Columbia University since 1982, he writes extensively on political history, the history of freedom, the early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography...

 observed:
In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party's infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.

To that end they worked to curb the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to keep and bear arms of blacks. The Ku Klux Klan soon spread into nearly every southern state, launching a "reign of terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

 against Republican
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

 leaders both black and white. Those political leaders assassinated during the campaign included Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 Congressman James M. Hinds
James M. Hinds
James M. Hinds of Little Rock, represented Arkansas in the United States Congress from June 24, 1868 through October 22, 1868 when he was assassinated by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, namely George A. Clark, Secretary of the Democratic Committee of Monroe County, who was drunk at the time...

, three members of the South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 legislature, and several men who served in constitutional conventions."

Activities



Klan members adopted masks and robes that hid their identities and added to the drama of their night rides, their chosen time for attacks. Many of them operated in small towns and rural areas where people otherwise knew each other's faces, and sometimes still recognized the attackers. "The kind of thing that men are afraid or ashamed to do openly, and by day, they accomplish secretly, masked, and at night." With this method both the high and the low could be attacked. The Ku Klux Klan night riders "sometimes claimed to be ghosts of Confederate soldiers so, as they claimed, to frighten superstitious blacks. Few freedmen took such nonsense seriously."

The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen's Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because people had many roles. Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks.
"Armed guerrilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites." Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. "Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault."

Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant's opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.

In the April 1868 Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 gubernatorial election, Columbia County
Columbia County, Georgia
Columbia County is a county located in the US state of Georgia along the Savannah River. As of 2010 the population was 124,054 a growth of 39% from the 2000 census figure of 89,288. The de jure county seat is Appling. Appling is an unincorporated area, making Columbia one of only three counties...

 cast 1,222 votes for Republican Rufus Bullock
Rufus Bullock
Rufus Brown Bullock was an American politician.-Biography:He served as the 46th Governor of Georgia from 1868 to 1871 during Reconstruction and was the first Republican governor of Georgia. After various allegations of scandal, in 1871 he was obliged by the Ku Klux Klan to resign the governorship...

. By the November presidential election
United States presidential election, 1868
The United States presidential election of 1868 was the first presidential election to take place after the American Civil War, during the period referred to as Reconstruction...

, however, Klan intimidation led to suppression of the Republican vote and only one person voted for Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

.

Klansmen killed more than 150 African Americans in a county in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, and hundreds more in other counties. Freedmen's Bureau records provided a detailed recounting of Klansmen's beatings and murders of freedmen and their white allies.

Milder encounters also occurred. In Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, according to the Congressional inquiry:
One of these teachers (Miss Allen of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

), whose school was at Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County
Monroe County, Mississippi
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 38,014 people, 14,603 households, and 10,660 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile . There were 16,236 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile...

, was visited ... between one and two o'clock in the morning on March 1871, by about fifty men mounted and disguised. Each man wore a long white robe and his face was covered by a loose mask with scarlet stripes. She was ordered to get up and dress which she did at once and then admitted to her room the captain and lieutenant who in addition to the usual disguise had long horns on their heads and a sort of device in front. The lieutenant had a pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

 in his hand and he and the captain sat down while eight or ten men stood inside the door and the porch was full. They treated her "gentlemanly and quietly" but complained of the heavy school-tax, said she must stop teaching and go away and warned her that they never gave a second notice. She heeded the warning and left the county.


By 1868, two years after the Klan's creation, its activity was beginning to decrease. Members were hiding behind Klan masks and robes as a way to avoid prosecution for freelance violence. Many influential southern Democrats feared that Klan lawlessness provided an excuse for the federal government to retain its power over the South, and they began to turn against it. There were outlandish claims made, such as Georgian B. H. Hill stating "that some of these outrages were actually perpetrated by the political friends of the parties slain."

Resistance


Union Army veterans in mountainous Blount County, Alabama
Blount County, Alabama
Blount County is a county located in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 57,322. Its county seat is Oneonta.Blount County is a dry county.-History:...

, organized "the anti-Ku Klux". They put an end to violence by threatening Klansmen with reprisals unless they stopped whipping Unionists and burning black churches and schools. Armed blacks formed their own defense in Bennettsville, South Carolina
Bennettsville, South Carolina
Bennettsville is a city in and the county seat of Marlboro County, South Carolina, United States. and home to the Bennettsville Historic District...

 and patrolled the streets to protect their homes.

National sentiment gathered to crack down on the Klan, even though some Democrats at the national level questioned whether the Klan really existed or believed that it was just a creation of nervous Southern Republican governors. Many southern states began to pass anti-Klan legislation.
In January 1871, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 Republican Senator John Scott
John Scott (Pennsylvania)
John Scott was an American lawyer and Republican party politician. He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate....

 convened a Congressional committee which took testimony from 52 witnesses about Klan atrocities. They accumulated 12 volumes of horrifying testimony. In February, former Union General and Congressman Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician)
Benjamin Franklin Butler was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts....

 of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1871
Civil Rights Act of 1871
The Civil Rights Act of 1871, , enacted April 20, 1871, is a federal law in force in the United States. The Act was originally enacted a few years after the American Civil War, along with the 1870 Force Act. One of the chief reasons for its passage was to protect southern blacks from the Ku Klux...

 (Ku Klux Klan Act). This added to the enmity that southern white Democrats bore toward him. While the bill was being considered, further violence in the South swung support for its passage. The Governor of South Carolina
Governor of South Carolina
The Governor of the State of South Carolina is the head of state for the State of South Carolina. Under the South Carolina Constitution, the Governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the South Carolina executive branch. The Governor is the ex officio...

 appealed for federal troops to assist his efforts in keeping control of the state. A riot and massacre
Meridian race riot of 1871
The Meridian race riot of 1871, also called the Meridian Riot, was a race riot in Meridian, Mississippi in March 1871. It followed the arrest of freedmen accused of inciting riot in a downtown fire, and blacks' organizing for self-defense...

 in a Meridian, Mississippi
Meridian, Mississippi
Meridian is the county seat of Lauderdale County, Mississippi. It is the sixth largest city in the state and the principal city of the Meridian, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area...

, courthouse were reported, from which a black state representative escaped only by taking to the woods. The 1871 Civil Rights Act allowed President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 to suspend Habeas Corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

.

In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 signed Butler's legislation. The Ku Klux Klan Act was used by the Federal government together with the 1870 Force Act, another act that President Grant signed, to enforce the civil rights provisions for individuals under the constitution. Under the 1871 Klan Act, after the Klan refused to voluntarily dissolve, President Grant issued a suspension of Habeas Corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

, and sent Federal troops into 9 South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 counties. The Klansmen were arrested and prosecuted in Federal court. More African Americans served on juries in Federal court than were selected for local or state juries, so they had a chance to participate in the process. In the crackdown, hundreds of Klan members were fined or imprisoned.

The Klan declines and is superseded by other groups


Although Forrest boasted that the Klan was a nationwide organization of 550,000 men and that he could muster 40,000 Klansmen within five days' notice, as a secret or "invisible
Invisible dictatorship
An invisible dictatorship was a term coined by Mikhail Bakunin to describe clandestine revolutionary leadership. Bakunin also used the terms invisible legion and invisible network to describe his concept of invisible dictatorship....

" group, it had no membership rosters, no chapters, and no local officers. It was difficult for observers to judge its actual membership. It had created a sensation by the dramatic nature of its masked forays and because of its many murders.

In 1870 a federal grand jury determined that the Klan was a "terrorist organization". It issued hundreds of indictments for crimes of violence and terrorism. Klan members were prosecuted, and many fled from areas that were under federal government jurisdiction, particularly in South Carolina. Many people not formally inducted into the Klan had used the Klan's costume for anonymity, to hide their identities when carrying out acts of violence. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, stating that it was "being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace". Historian Stanley Horn writes "generally speaking, the Klan's end was more in the form of spotty, slow, and gradual disintegration than a formal and decisive disbandment". A reporter in Georgia wrote in January 1870, "A true statement of the case is not that the Ku Klux are an organized band of licensed criminals, but that men who commit crimes call themselves Ku Klux".

While people used the Klan as a mask for nonpolitical crimes, state and local governments seldom acted against them. African Americans were kept off juries. In lynching cases, all-white juries almost never indicted Ku Klux Klan members. When there was a rare indictment, juries were unlikely to vote for a conviction. In part, jury members feared reprisals from local Klansmen.

Others may have agreed with lynching as a way of keeping dominance over black men. In many states, officials were reluctant to use black militia against the Klan out of fear that racial tensions would be raised. When Republican Governor of North Carolina
Governor of North Carolina
The Governor of North Carolina is the chief executive of the State of North Carolina, one of the U.S. states. The current governor is Bev Perdue, North Carolina's first female governor.-Powers:...

 William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden
William Woods Holden was the 38th and 40th Governor of North Carolina in 1865 and from 1868 to 1871. He was the leader of the state's Republican Party during Reconstruction. Holden was the second governor in American history to be impeached, and the first to be removed from office...

 called out the militia against the Klan in 1870, it added to his unpopularity. Combined with violence and fraud at the polls, the Republicans lost their majority in the state legislature. Disaffection with Holden's actions led to white Democratic legislators' impeaching Holden and removing him from office, but their reasons were numerous.

The Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and decimated throughout the rest of the South, where it had already been in decline. Attorney General Amos Tappan Ackerman led the prosecutions.

In some areas, other local paramilitary organizations such as the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

, Red Shirts, saber clubs, and rifle clubs continued to intimidate and murder black voters.

In 1874, organized white paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 groups formed in the Deep South to replace the faltering Klan: the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

 in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 and the Red Shirts in Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, North
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. They campaigned openly to turn Republicans out of office, intimidated and killed black voters, tried to disrupt organizing and suppress black voting. They were out in force during the campaigns and elections of 1874 and 1876, contributing to the conservative Democrats regaining power in 1876, against a background of electoral violence.

Shortly after, in United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.-Background:On Easter...

(1875), the Supreme Court ruled that the Force Act of 1870 did not give the Federal government power to regulate private actions, but only those by state governments. The result was that as the century went on, African Americans were at the mercy of hostile state governments that refused to intervene against private violence and paramilitary groups.


Whereas the number of indictments across the South was large, the number of cases leading to prosecution and sentencing was relatively small. The overloaded federal courts were not able to meet the demands of trying such a tremendous number of cases, a situation that led to selective pardoning. By late 1873 and 1874, most of the charges against Klansmen were dropped although new cases continued to be prosecuted for several more years. Most of those sentenced had either served their terms or been pardoned by 1875.

The Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 eviscerated the Ku Klux Act in 1876 by ruling that the federal government could no longer prosecute individuals although states would be forced to comply with federal civil rights provisions. Republicans passed a second civil rights act (the Civil Rights Act of 1875) to grant equal access to public facilities and other housing accommodations regardless of race. Ironically, the Klan during this period served to further Northern reconstruction efforts, as Ku Klux violence provided the political climate needed to pass civil rights protections for blacks. Although the Ku Klux Act of 1871 dismantled the first Klan, Southern whites formed other, similar groups that kept blacks away from the polls through intimidation and physical violence. Reconstruction ended with the election of President Rutherford B. Hayes, who suspended the federal military occupation of the South; yet blacks still found themselves without the basic civil liberties that Congressional Republicans had sought to secure.


In 1882, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Harris
United States v. Harris
United States v. Harris, , sometimes referred to as the Ku Klux Case, was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to penalize crimes such as assault and murder. It declared that the local governments have the power to...

that the Klan Act was partially unconstitutional
Constitutionality
Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

. It ruled that Congress's power under the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 did not extend to the right to regulate against private conspiracies.

Klan costumes, also called "regalia
Ku Klux Klan regalia and insignia
The costume of the Ku Klux Klan is perhaps the most distinctive feature of that organization, and is recognized worldwide. It is sometimes known as the 'Glory Suit' by those who wear it, and many pejoratives by the Klan's numerous opponents.-Development:...

", disappeared by the early 1870s (Wade 1987, p. 109). The fact that the Klan did not exist for decades was shown when Simmons's 1915 recreation of the Klan attracted only two aging "former Reconstruction Klansmen." All other members were new. By 1872, the Klan was broken as an organization. Nonetheless, the goals that the Klan had failed to achieve itself, such as suppressing suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 for Southern blacks and driving a wedge between poor whites and blacks, were largely accomplished by the 1890s by militant Southern whites. Lynchings of African Americans, far from being ended by the Klan's disintegration, instead peaked in 1892 with 161 deaths.

Refounding in 1915








Three events in 1915 acted as catalysts to the revival of the Klan:
  • The film The Birth of a Nation
    The Birth of a Nation
    The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Griffith also co-wrote the screenplay , and co-produced the film . It was released on February 8, 1915...

    was released, mythologizing and glorifying the first Klan.
  • Leo Frank
    Leo Frank
    Leo Max Frank was a Jewish-American factory superintendent whose hanging in 1915 by a lynch mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia drew attention to antisemitism in the United States....

     was lynched near Atlanta after the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Frank had been convicted in 1913 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young white factory worker named Mary Phagan, in a trial marked by intimidation of the jury and media frenzy. His legal appeals had been exhausted.
  • The second Ku Klux Klan was founded by William J. Simmons
    William J. Simmons
    William Joseph Simmons was the founder of the second Ku Klux Klan on Thanksgiving Night of 1915.-Early life:Simmons was born in Harpersville, Alabama, to Calvin Henry Simmons, a physician; and Lavonia David. He served in the Spanish-American War and later claimed to have studied medicine at Johns...

     at Stone Mountain
    Stone Mountain
    Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock in Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. At its summit, the elevation is 1,686 feet amsl and 825 feet above the surrounding area. Stone Mountain granite extends underground at its longest point into Gwinnett County...

    , outside Atlanta. It added to the original anti-black ideology with a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionist
    Prohibition in the United States
    Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

     and antisemitic agenda. Most of the founders were from an Atlanta-area organization calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan, which had organized around Leo Frank's trial. The new organization emulated the fictionalized version of the Klan presented in The Birth of a Nation.

The Birth of a Nation


Director D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith
David Llewelyn Wark Griffith was a premier pioneering American film director. He is best known as the director of the controversial and groundbreaking 1915 film The Birth of a Nation and the subsequent film Intolerance .Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation made pioneering use of advanced camera...

's The Birth of a Nation glorified the original Klan. His film was based on the book and play The Clansman
The Clansman
The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan is the title of a novel published in 1905. It was the second work in the Ku Klux Klan trilogy by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr. that included The Leopard's Spots and The Traitor. It was influential in providing the ideology that helped support the...

and the book The Leopard's Spots
The Leopard's Spots
The Leopard's Spots is the first novel of Thomas Dixon's Ku Klux Klan trilogy that included The Clansman and The Traitor. In the novel Dixon offers an account of Reconstruction in which he portrays the villains as a former slave driver, Northern carpetbaggers and emancipated slaves; and heroes as...

, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr.
Thomas Dixon, Jr.
Thomas F. Dixon, Jr. was an American Baptist minister, playwright, lecturer, North Carolina state legislator, lawyer, and author, perhaps best known for writing The Clansman — which was to become the inspiration for D. W...

. Dixon said his purpose was "to revolutionize northern sentiment by a presentation of history that would transform every man in my audience into a good Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

!" The film created a nationwide Klan craze. At the official premier in Atlanta, members of the Klan rode up and down the street in front of the theater.

Much of the modern Klan's iconography, including the standardized white costume and the lighted cross, are derived from the film. Its imagery was based on Dixon's romanticized concept of old England and Scotland, as portrayed in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

. The film's influence and popularity were enhanced by a widely reported endorsement by historian and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

.

The Birth of a Nation included extensive quotations from Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People, as if to give it a stronger basis. After seeing the film in a special White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 screening, Wilson allegedly said, "It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." Given Wilson's views on race and the Klan, his statement was taken as supportive of the film. In later correspondence with Griffith, Wilson confirmed his enthusiasm. Wilson's remarks immediately became controversial. Wilson tried to remain aloof, but finally, on April 30, he issued a non-denial denial
Non-denial denial
Non-denial denial is a statement that seems direct, clearcut and unambiguous at first hearing, but when carefully parsed is revealed not to be a denial at all, and is thus not untruthful. It is a case in which words that are literally true are used to convey a false impression; analysis of whether...

. The historian Arthur Link
Arthur S. Link
Arthur S. Link was a leading American historian and a scholarly authority on Woodrow Wilson.-Biography:Born in New Market, Virginia, to a German Lutheran family, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a B.A. in 1941 and a Ph.D. in 1945...

 quoted comments by Wilson's aide, Joseph Tumulty: "the President was entirely unaware of the nature of the play before it was presented and at no time has expressed his approbation of it."

Leo Frank


Another event that influenced the Klan was sensational coverage in 1913 of the trial, conviction and sentencing of a Jewish factory manager from Atlanta named Leo Frank
Leo Frank
Leo Max Frank was a Jewish-American factory superintendent whose hanging in 1915 by a lynch mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia drew attention to antisemitism in the United States....

. In lurid newspaper accounts, Frank was accused of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan, a girl employed at his factory.

After a trial in Georgia in which a mob daily surrounded the courtroom, Frank was convicted. Because of the presence of the armed mob, the judge asked Frank and his counsel to stay away when the verdict was announced. Frank's legal appeals of his trial failed, despite the revelation of new evidence casting doubt on his guilt. US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932...

 dissented from other justices in their upholding of his conviction and condemned the mob's intimidation of the jury as the court's failing to provide due process
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

 to the defendant. After the governor commuted Frank's sentence to life imprisonment in 1915, a mob calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan kidnapped Frank from prison and lynched him.

The Frank trial was used skillfully by Georgia politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and publisher Thomas E. Watson
Thomas E. Watson
Thomas Edward "Tom" Watson was an American politician, newspaper editor, and writer from Georgia. In the 1890s Watson championed poor farmers as a leader of the Populist Party, articulating an agrarian political viewpoint while attacking business, bankers, railroads, Democratic President Grover...

, the editor for The Jeffersonian magazine. He was a leader in recreating the Klan and was later elected to the U.S. Senate. The new Klan was inaugurated in 1915 at a meeting led by William J. Simmons
William J. Simmons
William Joseph Simmons was the founder of the second Ku Klux Klan on Thanksgiving Night of 1915.-Early life:Simmons was born in Harpersville, Alabama, to Calvin Henry Simmons, a physician; and Lavonia David. He served in the Spanish-American War and later claimed to have studied medicine at Johns...

 on top of Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock in Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. At its summit, the elevation is 1,686 feet amsl and 825 feet above the surrounding area. Stone Mountain granite extends underground at its longest point into Gwinnett County...

. A few aging members of the original Klan attended, along with members of the self-named Knights of Mary Phagan.

Simmons stated that he had been inspired by the original Klan's Prescripts, written in 1867 by Confederate veteran George Gordon in an attempt to create a national organization. These were never adopted by the Klan, however. The Prescript stated the Klan's purposes in idealistic terms, hiding the fact that its members committed acts of vigilante violence and murder from behind masks.

Social factors


The Second Klan saw threats from every direction. A religious tone was apparent in all its activities; indeed, "two-thirds of the national Klan lecturers were Protestant ministers," says historian Brian R. Farmer. Much of the Klan's energy went to guarding the home, in its view, says historian Kathleen Blee, to protect "the interests of white womanhood."

The second Klan arose during the nadir of American race relations
Nadir of American race relations
The "nadir of American race relations" is a term that refers to the period in United States history from the end of Reconstruction through the early 20th century, when racism in the country is deemed to have been worse than in any other period after the American Civil War. During this period,...

, in response to urbanization and industrialization. Massive immigration of Catholics and Jews from eastern and southern Europe led to fears among Protestants. The Great Migration
Great Migration (African American)
The Great Migration was the movement of 6 million blacks out of the Southern United States to the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1910 to 1970. Some historians differentiate between a Great Migration , numbering about 1.6 million migrants, and a Second Great Migration , in which 5 million or more...

 of African Americans to the North stoked racism by whites in Northern industrial cities; thus the second Klan would achieve its greatest political power not in any Southern state, but in Indiana. The migration of African Americans and whites from rural areas to Southern cities further increased tensions. The Klan grew most rapidly in urbanizing cities which had high growth rates between 1910 and 1930, such as Detroit, Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, Dayton
Dayton
Dayton is a city in Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, Ohio, United States.Dayton may also refer to:-United States:*Dayton, Alabama*Dayton, California, in Butte County*Dayton, Lassen County, California*Dayton, Idaho*Dayton, Indiana...

, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. In Michigan, more than half of the members lived in Detroit and were concerned about urban issues: limited housing, rapid social change, competition for jobs. Stanley Horn, a Southern historian sympathetic to the first Klan, was careful in an oral interview to distinguish it from the later "spurious Ku Klux organization which was in ill-repute—and, of course, had no connection whatsoever with the Klan of Reconstruction days".

In an era without Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

 or widely available life insurance
Life insurance
Life insurance is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurer, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the death of the insured person. Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness may also trigger...

, it was common for men to join fraternal organizations such as the Elks
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is an American fraternal order and social club founded in 1868...

 or the Woodmen of the World
Woodmen of the World
Woodmen of the World is a fraternal organization based in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that operates a large privately held insurance company for its members....

 to provide for their families in case they died or were unable to work. The founder of the new Klan, William J. Simmons
William J. Simmons
William Joseph Simmons was the founder of the second Ku Klux Klan on Thanksgiving Night of 1915.-Early life:Simmons was born in Harpersville, Alabama, to Calvin Henry Simmons, a physician; and Lavonia David. He served in the Spanish-American War and later claimed to have studied medicine at Johns...

, was a member of twelve different fraternal organizations. He recruited for the Klan
Ku Klux Klan recruitment
Kleagles were the individuals, responsible for recruiting potential Ku Klux Klan members. Kleagles, as defined by the Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia, were organizers or recruiters, “appointed by imperial wizard or his imperial representative to ‘sell’ the KKK among non-members”...

 with his chest covered with fraternal badges, and consciously modeled the Klan after those organizations.

Klan organizers, called "Kleagles
Ku Klux Klan recruitment
Kleagles were the individuals, responsible for recruiting potential Ku Klux Klan members. Kleagles, as defined by the Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia, were organizers or recruiters, “appointed by imperial wizard or his imperial representative to ‘sell’ the KKK among non-members”...

", signed up hundreds of new members, who paid initiation fees and bought KKK costumes. The organizer kept half the money and sent the rest to state or national officials. When the organizer was done with an area, he organized a huge rally, often with burning crosses and perhaps presented a Bible to a local Protestant minister. He then left town with the money. The local units operated like many fraternal organizations and occasionally brought in speakers.

The Klan's growth was also affected by mobilization for World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and postwar tensions, especially in the cities where strangers came up against each other more often. Southern whites resented the arming of black soldiers. Black veterans did not want to go back to second-class status in the United States. Some were lynched, still in uniform, upon returning from overseas service.

Activities


In the new social environment of twentieth century America, the new Klan found it necessary to shift and broaden its focus away from Reconstruction-era issues. Simmons initially met with little success in recruiting members or raising money, and the Klan only gained momentum as a mass movement after 1920, when he handed its day-to-day activities over to two professional publicists from Atlanta, Elizabeth Tyler
Elizabeth Tyler (KKK organizer)
Mary Elizabeth "Bessie" Tyler was an Atlanta public-relations professional who, starting in 1920 along with Edward Young Clarke, helped to turn the initially anemic second Ku Klux Klan into a mass-membership organization with a broader social agenda...

 and Edward Young Clarke. In reaction to social changes, and under the influence of Tyler and Clarke, the Klan adopted anti-Jewish
History of antisemitism in the United States
Historians have long debated the extent of antisemitism in America's past and contrasted American antisemitism with its European counterpart. Earlier students of American Jewish life minimized the presence of antisemitism in the United States, which they viewed as a late and alien phenomenon on the...

, anti-Catholic
Anti-Catholicism in the United States
Strong political and theological positions hostile to the Catholic Church and its followers was prominent among Protestants in Britain and Germany from the Protestant Reformation onwards. Immigrants brought them to the American colonies. Two types of anti-Catholic rhetoric existed in colonial society...

, anti-Communist
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 and anti-immigrant slants. It now sold itself as nativist and strenuously patriotic, and it supported the temperance movement. In the following decade, it became an organization with its core in the Midwest, and a majority of its members living north of the Mason-Dixon line. There were even members in traditionally Republican and abolitionist New England; Klan members torched an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 school in Scituate, Rhode Island
Scituate, Rhode Island
Scituate is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 10,329 at the 2010 census.-History:Scituate was first settled in 1710 by emigrants from Scituate, Massachusetts...

.

Temperance


Lender et al. state that the Klan's resurgence in the 1920s was aided by the temperance movement
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

. In Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 and elsewhere, the Klan opposed bootleggers, and in 1922, two hundred Klan members set fire to saloons in Union County. The national Klan office was finally established in Dallas, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, but Little Rock, Arkansas was the home of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan
WKKK
The WKKK was one of a number of auxiliaries of the Ku Klux Klan. While most women focused on the moral, civic, and educational agenda of the Klan, they also had considerable involvement in issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and religion...

. The first head of this auxiliary
KKK auxiliaries
KKK auxiliaries included the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, the Junior Ku Klux Klan, the Tri-K Girls, the American Krusaders, the Ku Klux Kiddies, and the Klan’s Colored Man auxiliary....

 was a former president of the Arkansas WCTU. One historian contends that the KKK’s "support for Prohibition represented the single most important bond between Klansmen throughout the nation". Membership in the Klan and other prohibition groups overlapped, and they often coordinated activities. For example, Clarke raised funds for both the Klan and the Anti-Saloon League
Anti-Saloon League
The Anti-Saloon League was the leading organization lobbying for prohibition in the United States in the early 20th century. It was a key component of the Progressive Era, and was strongest in the South and rural North, drawing heavy support from pietistic Protestant ministers and their...

. Clarke was indicted in 1923 for violations of the Mann Act
Mann Act
The White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act, is a United States law, passed June 25, 1910 . It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann, and in its original form prohibited white slavery and the interstate transport of females for “immoral purposes”...

.

Labor and anti-unionism


The social unrest of the postwar period included labor strikes in response to low wages and poor working conditions in many industrial cities, often led by immigrants, who also organized unions. Klan members worried about labor organizers' effect on their jobs, as well as the socialist leanings of some of the immigrants, which only added to the tensions. They also resented upwardly mobile ethnic Catholics. At the same time, in cities Klan members were themselves working in industrial environments and often struggled with working conditions. This occurred against a background of anticommunist hysteria created by the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution can refer to:* Russian Revolution , a series of strikes and uprisings against Nicholas II, resulting in the creation of State Duma.* Russian Revolution...

 overseas, and the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

 in the U.S.

In southern cities such as Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, Klan members kept control of access to the better-paying industrial jobs but opposed unions. During the 1930s and 1940s, Klan leaders urged members to disrupt the Congress of Industrial Organizations
Congress of Industrial Organizations
The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, proposed by John L. Lewis in 1932, was a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1955. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not...

 (CIO), which advocated industrial unions and was open to African-American members. With access to dynamite and skills from their jobs in mining and steel, in the late 1940s some Klan members in Birmingham began using bombings to intimidate upwardly mobile blacks who moved into middle-class neighborhoods. "By mid-1949, there were so many charred house carcasses that the area [College Hills] was informally named Dynamite Hill." Independent Klan groups remained active in Birmingham and were deeply engaged in violent opposition to the Civil Rights Movement.

Urbanization



A significant characteristic of the second Klan was that it was an organization based in urban areas, reflecting the major shifts of population to cities in both the North and the South. In Michigan, for instance, 40,000 members lived in Detroit, where they made up more than half of the state's membership. Most Klansmen were lower- to middle-class whites who were trying to protect their jobs and housing from the waves of newcomers to the industrial cities: immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who tended to be Catholic and Jewish in numbers higher than earlier groups of immigrants; and black and white migrants from the South. As new populations poured into cities, rapidly changing neighborhoods created social tensions. Because of the rapid pace of population growth in industrializing cities such as Detroit and Chicago, the Klan grew rapidly in the U.S. Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

. The Klan also grew in booming Southern cities such as Dallas and Houston.

In the medium-size industrial city of Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population is 181,045, making it the second largest city in New England after Boston....

 in the 1920s, the Klan ascended to power quickly but diminished as a result of opposition from the Catholic Church. There was no violence and the local newspaper ridiculed Klansmen as "night-shirt knights". Half of the members were Swedish American
Swedish American
Swedish Americans are Americans of Swedish descent, especially the descendants of about 1.2 million immigrants from Sweden during 1885-1915. Most were Lutherans who affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ; some were Methodists...

, including some first-generation immigrants. The ethnic and religious conflicts between Worcester residents is discussed. Swedish Protestants fought against Irish Catholics for political and ideological control of the city.

For some states, historians have obtained membership rosters of some local units and matched the names against city directory and local records to create statistical profiles of the membership. Big city newspapers were often hostile and ridiculed Klansmen as ignorant farmers. Detailed analysis from Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 showed the rural stereotype was false for that state:

Indiana's Klansmen represented a wide cross section of society: they were not disproportionately urban or rural, nor were they significantly more or less likely than other members of society to be from the working class, middle class, or professional ranks. Klansmen were Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, of course, but they cannot be described exclusively or even predominantly as fundamentalists
Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism is strict adherence to specific theological doctrines usually understood as a reaction against Modernist theology. The term "fundamentalism" was originally coined by its supporters to describe a specific package of theological beliefs that developed into a movement within the...

. In reality, their religious affiliations mirrored the whole of white Protestant society, including those who did not belong to any church.


The Klan attracted people but most of them did not remain in the organization for long. Membership in the Klan turned over rapidly as people found out that it was not the group they wanted. Millions joined, and at its peak in the 1920s, the organization included about 15% of the nation's eligible population. The lessening of social tensions contributed to the Klan's decline.

The burning cross



The second Klan adopted a burning Latin cross as its symbol. No such crosses had been used by the first Klan, but the burning cross became a symbol of intimidation by the second Klan. The burning of the cross was also used during the second Klan as a symbol of Christian fellowship, and its lighting during meetings was steeped in Christian prayer, the singing of hymns, and other overtly religious symbolism.

The practice of cross burning had been loosely based on ancient Scottish clans' burning a St. Andrew's cross
Saltire
A saltire, or Saint Andrew's Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross or letter ex . Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross....

 (an X-shaped cross) as a beacon to muster forces for war. In The Clansman (see above), Dixon had falsely claimed that the first Klan had used fiery crosses when rallying to fight against Reconstruction. Griffith brought this image to the screen in The Birth of a Nation; he mistakenly portrayed the burning cross as an upright Latin cross rather than the St. Andrew's cross. Simmons adopted the symbol wholesale from the movie, prominently displaying it at the 1915 Stone Mountain meeting. The symbol has been associated with the Klan ever since.

Education


In an attempt to gain a foothold in education, the Klan in 1921 bought Lanier University
Lanier University
Lanier University, named after poet Sidney Lanier, was from a short-lived university in today's Morningside-Lenox Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia....

, a struggling Baptist university in Atlanta. Nathan Bedford Forrest, grandson of the confederate general by the same name
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self-educated, innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate in the postwar years...

, was appointed business manager, and the school would teach "pure, 100 percent Americanism". Enrollment was dismal and the school closed after its first year of Klan ownership. Ironically the complex would later be used as a synagogue.

Political influence


The Klan had major political influence in several states, and it was influential mostly in the center of the country. The Klan spread from the South into the Midwest and Northern states. It also arose in Canada, where there was a large movement against Catholic immigrants. At its peak, Klan membership exceeded four million and comprised 20% of the adult white male population in many broad geographic regions, and 40% in some areas. Most of the Klan's membership resided in Midwestern states.

In another well-known example from 1924, the Klan decided to turn Anaheim, California
Anaheim, California
Anaheim is a city in Orange County, California. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was about 365,463, making it the most populated city in Orange County, the 10th most-populated city in California, and ranked 54th in the United States...

, into a model Klan city. It secretly took over the City Council. When the members' affiliation became known, the city conducted a special recall election, and citizens voted out the Klan members.

The Klan issue played a significant role at the bitterly divisive 1924 Democratic National Convention
1924 Democratic National Convention
The 1924 Democratic National Convention, also called the Klanbake, held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City from June 24 to July 9, took a record 103 ballots to nominate a presidential candidate. It was the longest continuously running convention in United States political history...

 in New York City. The leading candidates were Protestant William Gibbs McAdoo
William Gibbs McAdoo
William Gibbs McAdoo, Jr. was an American lawyer and political leader who served as a U.S. Senator, United States Secretary of the Treasury and director of the United States Railroad Administration...

, with a base in areas where the Klan was strong, and Catholic New York Governor Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

, with a base in the large cities. After weeks of stalemate, both candidates withdrew in favor of a compromise. Anti-Klan delegates proposed a resolution indirectly attacking the Klan; it was narrowly defeated.

In some states, such as Alabama, members of the KKK worked for political and social reform. The state's Klansmen were among the foremost advocates of better public schools, effective prohibition
Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 enforcement, expanded road construction, and other political measures which benefited lower-class white people. By 1925, the Klan was a political force in the state, as leaders such as J. Thomas Heflin
J. Thomas Heflin
James Thomas Heflin , nicknamed "Cotton Tom", was a leading proponent of white supremacy, most notably as a United States Senator from Alabama.-Biography:...

, David Bibb Graves, and Hugo Black
Hugo Black
Hugo Lafayette Black was an American politician and jurist. A member of the Democratic Party, Black represented Alabama in the United States Senate from 1927 to 1937, and served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. Black was nominated to the Supreme...

 manipulated the KKK membership to try to build political power against the Black Belt planters, who had long dominated the state. Black was elected US senator in 1926; President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 appointed Black to the Supreme Court not knowing he had been active in the Klan in the 1920s. In 1926, with Klan support, Bibb Graves
Bibb Graves
David Bibb Graves was a Democratic politician and the 38th Governor of Alabama 1927-1931 and 1935–1939, the first Alabama governor to serve two four-year terms.-Early life:...

 won the Alabama governor's office. He was a former Klan chapter head. He pushed for increased education funding, better public health, new highway construction, and pro-labor legislation. Because the Alabama state legislature refused to redistrict until 1972, however, even the Klan was unable to break the planters' and rural areas' hold on legislative power.

Its predecessor had been an exclusively partisan Democratic organization in the South. The second Klan grew in the Midwest, where for a time, its members were courted by both Republicans and Democrats. The KKK state organizations endorsed candidates from either party that supported its goals; Prohibition in particular helped the Klan and some Republicans to make common cause in the Midwest. In the South, however, the southern Klan remained Democratic, closely allied with Democratic police, sheriffs, and other functionaries of local government. With continuing disfranchisement of most African Americans and many poor whites, the only political activity took place within the Democratic Party.

Resistance and decline


The Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in Indiana
Indiana Klan
The Indiana Klan was a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society in the United States that practiced racism and terrorism against minority ethnic and religious groups. The Indiana Klan rose to prominence beginning in the years after World War I when rising levels of eastern and southern European...

 politics and society after World War I. It was made up of American-born, white Protestants of many income and social levels. Nationally, in the 1920s, Indiana had the most powerful Ku Klux Klan. Though it counted a high number of members statewide, (over 30% of its white male citizens) its importance peaked with the 1924 election of Edward Jackson for governor. A short time later, the scandal surrounding the murder trial of D.C. Stephenson destroyed the image of the Ku Klux Klan as upholders of law and order. By 1926 the Ku Klux Klan was "crippled and discredited."
D. C. Stephenson
D. C. Stephenson
David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson was an American Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. state of Indiana and 22 other Northern states. He is considered to have been one of the most successful Klan leaders up until his downfall after his conviction for murder...

 was the Grand Dragon of Indiana and 22 northern states. He led the states under his control to separate from the national KKK organization in 1923. In his 1925 trial, he was convicted for second degree murder for his part in the rape and subsequent death
of Madge Oberholtzer
Madge Oberholtzer
Madge Augustine Oberholtzer was an American schoolteacher who worked and lived in Indianapolis. Kidnapped and raped by D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan, she died of a staph infection from wounds inflicted upon her by Stephenson...

. After Stephenson's conviction in a sensational trial, the Klan declined dramatically in Indiana. Historian Leonard Moore concluded that a failure in leadership caused the Klan's collapse:

Stephenson and the other salesmen and office seekers who maneuvered for control of Indiana's Invisible Empire lacked both the ability and the desire to use the political system to carry out the Klan's stated goals. They were uninterested in, or perhaps even unaware of, grass roots concerns within the movement. For them, the Klan had been nothing more than a means for gaining wealth and power. These marginal men had risen to the top of the hooded order because, until it became a political force, the Klan had never required strong, dedicated leadership. More established and experienced politicians who endorsed the Klan, or who pursued some of the interests of their Klan constituents, also accomplished little. Factionalism created one barrier, but many politicians had supported the Klan simply out of expedience. When charges of crime and corruption began to taint the movement, those concerned about their political futures had even less reason to work on the Klan's behalf.:

Many groups and leaders, including prominent Protestant ministers such as Reinhold Niebuhr
Reinhold Niebuhr
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr was an American theologian and commentator on public affairs. Starting as a leftist minister in the 1920s indebted to theological liberalism, he shifted to the new Neo-Orthodox theology in the 1930s, explaining how the sin of pride created evil in the world...

 in Detroit, spoke out against the Klan. In response to blunt attacks against Jewish Americans and the Klan's campaign to outlaw private schools, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 was formed after the lynching of Leo Frank. When one civic group began to publish Klan membership lists, the number of members quickly declined. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

 carried on public education campaigns in order to inform people about Klan activities and lobbied against Klan abuses in Congress. After its peak in 1925, Klan membership in most areas of the Midwest began to decline rapidly.

In Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, KKK vigilantes, thinking that they had governmental protection, launched a wave of physical terror in 1927. They targeted both blacks and whites for violation of racial norms and for perceived moral lapses. This led however to a large backlash beginning in the media. Grover C. Hall, Sr., editor of the Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery Advertiser
The Montgomery Advertiser is a daily newspaper located in Montgomery, Alabama. It was founded in 1829.- History:The newspaper began publication in 1829 as The Planter's Gazette. It became the Montgomery Advertiser in 1833. In 1903, R.F. Hudson, a young Alabama newspaperman, joined the staff of the...

, began publishing a series of editorials and articles that attacked the Klan for its "racial and religious intolerance". Hall won a Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for his crusade. Other newspapers kept up a steady, loud attack on the Klan, referring to the organization as violent and "un-American". Sheriffs cracked down. In the 1928 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1928
The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Al Smith. The Republicans were identified with the booming economy of the 1920s, whereas Smith, a Roman Catholic, suffered politically from Anti-Catholic prejudice, his anti-prohibitionist stance, and...

, the state voted for the Democratic candidate Al Smith, although he was Catholic.

Klan membership in Alabama dropped to less than 6,000 by 1930. Small independent units continued to be active in Birmingham, where in the late 1940s, members launched a reign of terror by bombing the homes of upwardly mobile African Americans. Activism by such independent KKK groups increased as a reaction against the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 of the 1950s and 1960s.

Imperial Wizard Hiram Wesley Evans
Hiram Wesley Evans
Hiram Wesley Evans was Imperial Wizard of the "second" Ku Klux Klan from 1922 until 1939. Evans succeeded William Joseph Simmons in the position of the Imperial Wizard in November 1922...

 sold the organization in 1939 to James Colescott
James Colescott
James A. Colescott was an Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Under financial pressure from the IRS, he disbanded the group, the second wave of the original Ku Klux Klan, in 1944.-Biography:...

, an Indiana veterinarian
Veterinarian
A veterinary physician, colloquially called a vet, shortened from veterinarian or veterinary surgeon , is a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals....

, and Samuel Green
Samuel Green (Ku Klux Klan)
Samuel Green was an Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader in the late 1940s, organizing its brief reformation.-Early life:...

, an Atlanta obstetrician. They were unable to staunch the declining membership. In 1944, the IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 filed a lien for $685,000 in back taxes against the Klan, and Colescott was forced to dissolve the organization in 1944. Local Klan groups closed over the following years.

Due in part to the Klan terror directed at them, five million blacks left the South for northern, midwestern and western cities from 1940 to 1970.

After World War II, folklorist and author Stetson Kennedy
Stetson Kennedy
William Stetson Kennedy was an American author and human rights activist. One of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the twentieth century, he is remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world...

 infiltrated the Klan and provided information to media and law enforcement agencies. He also provided secret code words to the writers of the Superman radio program, resulting in episodes in which Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

 took on the KKK. Kennedy's intention to strip away the Klan's mystique and trivialize the Klan's rituals and code words may have contributed to the decline in Klan recruiting and membership. In the 1950s, Kennedy wrote a bestselling book about his experiences, which further damaged the Klan.

The following table shows the change in the Klan's estimated membership over time. (The years given in the table represent approximate time periods.)

Later Klans, 1950 through 1960s


The name "Ku Klux Klan" began to be used by several independent groups. Beginning in the 1950s, for instance, individual Klan groups in Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, began to resist social change and blacks' improving their lives by bombing houses in transitional neighborhoods. There were so many bombings in Birmingham of blacks' homes by Klan groups in the 1950s that the city's nickname was "Bombingham".

During the tenure of Bull Connor
Bull Connor
Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, during the American Civil Rights Movement...

 as police commissioner in the city, Klan groups were closely allied with the police and operated with impunity. When the Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham, Connor gave Klan members fifteen minutes to attack the riders before sending in the police to quell the attack. When local and state authorities failed to protect the Freedom Riders and activists, the federal government established effective intervention.

In states such as Alabama and Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Klan members forged alliances with governors' administrations. In Birmingham and elsewhere, the KKK groups bombed the houses of civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 activists. In some cases they used physical violence, intimidation and assassination directly against individuals. Many murders went unreported and were not prosecuted by local and state authorities. Continuing disfranchisement of blacks across the South meant that most could not serve on juries, which were all white.

According to a report from the Southern Regional Council
Southern Regional Council
The Southern Regional Council is a reform-oriented organization created to avoid racial violence and promote racial equality in the Southern United States. Voter registration and political-awareness campaigns are used toward this end. The SRC evolved from the Commission on Interracial...

 in Atlanta, the homes of 40 black Southern families were bombed during 1951 and 1952. Some of the bombing victims were social activists whose work exposed them to danger, but most were either people who refused to bow to racist convention or were innocent bystanders, unsuspecting victims of random violence.

Among the more notorious murders by Klan members:
  • The 1951 Christmas Eve bombing of the home of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

     (NAACP) activists Harry and Harriette Moore
    Harry T. Moore
    Harry Tyson Moore was an African-American teacher, and founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Brevard County, Florida....

     in Mims, Florida
    Mims, Florida
    Mims is a census-designated place in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The population was 9,147 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Titusville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Mims is located at ....

    , resulting in their deaths.
  • The 1957 murder of Willie Edwards
    Willie Edwards
    Willie Edwards, Jr. was a 24-year-old African American, husband and father, murdered by members of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. He is buried at New Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Letohatchee, Alabama. - Murder :...

    , Jr. Klansmen forced Edwards to jump to his death from a bridge into the Alabama River
    Alabama River
    The Alabama River, in the U.S. state of Alabama, is formed by the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers, which unite about north of Montgomery.The river flows west to Selma, then southwest until, about from Mobile, it unites with the Tombigbee, forming the Mobile and Tensaw rivers, which discharge into...

    .
  • The 1963 assassination of NAACP organizer Medgar Evers
    Medgar Evers
    Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

     in Mississippi. In 1994, former Ku Klux Klansman Byron De La Beckwith
    Byron De La Beckwith
    Byron De La Beckwith, Jr. was an American white supremacist and Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi who was convicted in the 1994 state trial of assassinating the civil rights leader Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963....

     was convicted.
  • The 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
    16th Street Baptist Church bombing
    The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S...

     in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four African-American girls. The perpetrators were Klan members Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry
    Bobby Frank Cherry
    Bobby Frank Cherry was an American white supremacist and Klansman who was convicted of murder in 2002 for his role in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963...

    , convicted in 2001 and 2002. The fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died before he was indicted.
  • The 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner
    Mississippi civil rights worker murders
    The Mississippi civil rights workers murders involved the lynching of three political activists in Neshoba County, Mississippi on June 21, 1964, during the American Civil Rights Movement....

    , in Mississippi. In June 2005, Klan member Edgar Ray Killen
    Edgar Ray Killen
    Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen is a former Ku Klux Klan organizer who conspired in the murders of three civil rights activists—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner—in 1964....

     was convicted of manslaughter
    Manslaughter
    Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

    .
  • The 1964 murder of two black teenagers, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore in Mississippi. In August 2007, based on the confession of Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, James Ford Seale
    James Ford Seale
    James Ford Seale was a Ku Klux Klan member charged by the U.S. Justice Department on January 24, 2007, and subsequently convicted on June 14, 2007, for the May 1964 kidnapping of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, two African-American young men in Meadville, Mississippi...

    , a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted. Seale was sentenced to serve three life sentences. Seale was a former Mississippi policeman and sheriff's deputy.
  • The 1965 Alabama murder of Viola Liuzzo
    Viola Liuzzo
    Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan, who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama...

    . She was a Southern-raised Detroit mother of five who was visiting the state in order to attend a civil rights march. At the time of her murder Liuzzo was transporting Civil Rights Marchers.
  • The 1966 firebombing death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer
    Vernon Dahmer
    Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, Sr. was an American civil rights leader and president of the Forrest County chapter of the NAACP in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.-Early life:...

     Sr., 58, in Mississippi. In 1998 former Ku Klux Klan wizard Sam Bowers
    Sam Bowers
    Samuel Kenneth Bowers , was a leader of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.-Early life:Bowers was born on August 25, 1924, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Sam Bowers Sr., a salesman, and Evangeline Peyton, daughter of a well-to-do planter...

     was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life. Two other Klan members were indicted with Bowers, but one died before trial, and the other's indictment was dismissed.


There was also resistance to the Klan. In 1953, newspaper publisher W. Horace Carter
W. Horace Carter
Walter Horace Carter was an American newspaper publisher in Tabor City, North Carolina who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for his reporting on the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and his editorials opposing it. Filmmaker Walt Campbell is making a documentary about Carter tentatively titled,...

 received a Pulitzer prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for reporting on the activities of the Klan. In a 1958 North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 incident, the Klan burned crosses at the homes of two Lumbee
Lumbee
The Lumbee belong to a state recognized Native American tribe in North Carolina. The Lumbee are concentrated in Robeson County and named for the primary waterway traversing the county...

 Native Americans who had associated with white people, and they threatened to return with more men. When the KKK held a nighttime rally nearby, they were quickly surrounded by hundreds of armed Lumbees. Gunfire was exchanged, and the Klan was routed at what became known as the Battle of Hayes Pond
Battle of Hayes Pond
The Battle of Hayes Pond refers to an armed confrontation between the Ku Klux Klan and Lumbee men near Maxton, North Carolina, on the night of January 18, 1958...

.

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 (FBI) had paid informants in the Klan, for instance in Birmingham in the early 1960s, its relations with local law enforcement agencies and the Klan were often ambiguous. The head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

, appeared more concerned about Communist links to civil rights activists than about controlling Klan excesses against citizens. In 1964, the FBI's COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

 program began attempts to infiltrate and disrupt civil rights groups.

As 20th-century Supreme Court rulings extended federal enforcement of citizens' civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, the government revived the Force Act and Klan Act from Reconstruction days. Federal prosecutors used these laws as the basis for investigations and indictments in the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner; and the 1965 murder of Viola Liuzzo
Viola Liuzzo
Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan, who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama...

. They were also the basis for prosecution in 1991 in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic
Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic
Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, was a United States abortion rights case , which affirmed that Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 could not be used to halt blockades of abortion clinics.-See also:...

.

Contemporary Klan: 1970s–present



Once African Americans secured federal legislation to protect civil and voting rights, the KKK shifted its focus to opposing court-ordered busing to desegregate schools
Desegregation busing
Desegregation busing in the United States is the practice of assigning and transporting students to schools in such a manner as to redress prior racial segregation of schools, or to overcome the effects of residential segregation on local school demographics.In 1954, the U.S...

, affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 and more open immigration
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

. In 1971, KKK members used bombs to destroy 10 school buses in Pontiac, Michigan
Pontiac, Michigan
Pontiac is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan named after the Ottawa Chief Pontiac, located within the Detroit metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 59,515. It is the county seat of Oakland County...

.

Altercation with Communist Workers Party



On November 3, 1979, five protesters were killed by KKK and American Nazi Party
American Nazi Party
The American Nazi Party was an American political party founded by discharged U.S. Navy Commander George Lincoln Rockwell. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, Rockwell initially called it the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists , but later renamed it the American Nazi Party in...

 members in the Greensboro massacre
Greensboro massacre
The Greensboro massacre occurred on November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. Five protest marchers were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party...

 in Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the third-largest city by population in North Carolina and the largest city in Guilford County and the surrounding Piedmont Triad metropolitan region. According to the 2010 U.S...

. This incident was the culmination of attempts by the Communist Workers Party to organize industrial workers, predominantly black, in the area.

Jerry Thompson infiltration


Jerry Thompson, a newspaper reporter who infiltrated the KKK in 1979, reported that the FBI's COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

 efforts were highly successful. Rival KKK factions accused each other's leaders of being FBI informants. Bill Wilkinson of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was revealed to have been working for the FBI.

Thompson, the journalist who claimed he had infiltrated the Klan, related that KKK leaders who appeared indifferent to the threat of arrest showed great concern about a series of civil lawsuits filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups; legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of alleged hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that...

 for damages of millions of dollars. These were filed after KKK members shot into a group of African Americans. Klansmen curtailed activities to conserve money for defense against the lawsuits. The KKK also used lawsuits as tools; they filed a libel suit to prevent publication of a paperback edition of Thompson's book.

Tennessee shooting


In 1980, three KKK members shot four elderly black women (Viola Ellison, Lela Evans, Opal Jackson and Katherine Johnson) in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, following a KKK initiation rally. A fifth woman, Fannie Crumsey, was injured by flying glass in the incident. Attempted murder charges were filed against the three KKK members, two of whom—Bill Church and Larry Payne—were acquitted by an all-white jury, and the other of whom—Marshall Thrash—was sentenced by the same jury to nine months on lesser charges. He was released after three months. In 1982, a jury awarded the five women $535,000 in a civil rights trial.

Michael Donald lynching


After Michael Donald
Michael Donald
Michael Donald was a young African American man who was murdered by two Ku Klux Klan members in Mobile, Alabama, in 1981. The murder is sometimes referred to as the last recorded lynching in the United States.-Lynching:...

 was lynched in 1981 in Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, the FBI investigated his death and two local KKK members were convicted of having a role, including Henry Francis Hays
Henry Francis Hays
Henry Francis Hays was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1981 lynching-style murder of 19-year old African-American Michael Donald....

, who was sentenced to death. With the support of attorneys Morris Dees
Morris Dees
Morris Seligman Dees, Jr. is the co-founder and chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center , and a former direct mail marketeer for book publishing. Along with his law partner, Joseph J...

 and Joseph J. Levin of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups; legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of alleged hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that...

 (SPLC), Donald's mother, Beulah Mae Donald, sued the KKK in civil court in Alabama. Her lawsuit against the United Klans of America
United Klans of America
United Klans of America Inc. was one of the largest Ku Klux Klan organizations in the United States. Led by Robert Shelton, the UKA peaked in popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s, and was the most violent Klan organization of its time. Its headquarters were the Anglo-Saxon Club outside...

 was tried in February 1987. The all-white jury found the Klan responsible for the lynching of Donald and ordered the Klan to pay US$7 million. To pay the judgment, the KKK turned over all of its assets, including its national headquarters building in Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

. After exhausting the appeals process, Hays was executed for Donald's death in Alabama on June 6, 1997. It was the first time since 1913 that a white man had been executed in Alabama for a crime against an African American.

Neo-Nazi alliances and Stormfront



In 1995, Don Black and Chloê Hardin, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke
David Duke
David Ernest Duke is a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan an American activist and writer, and former Republican Louisiana State Representative. He was also a former candidate in the Republican presidential primaries in 1992, and in the Democratic presidential primaries in...

's ex-wife, began a small bulletin board system
Bulletin board system
A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging...

 (BBS) called Stormfront
Stormfront (website)
Stormfront is a white nationalist and supremacist neo-Nazi Internet forum that has been described as the Internet's first major hate site.Stormfront began as an online bulletin board system in the early 1990s before being established as a website in 1995 by former Ku Klux Klan leader and white...

. Today, Stormfront has become a prominent online forum for white nationalism
White nationalism
White nationalism is a political ideology which advocates a racial definition of national identity for white people. White separatism and white supremacism are subgroups within white nationalism. The former seek a separate white nation state, while the latter add ideas from social Darwinism and...

, Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

, hate speech
Hate speech
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic....

, racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, and antisemitism. Duke has an account on Stormfront which he uses to post articles from his own website, as well as polling forum members for opinions and questions, in particular during his internet broadcasts. Duke has worked with Don Black on numerous projects including Operation Red Dog
Operation Red Dog
Operation Red Dog was the code name of plan by Canadian and American mercenaries, largely affiliated with white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan groups, to overthrow the government of Dominica, where they planned to restore former Prime Minister Patrick John to power...

 in 1980.

Modern statistics


The modern KKK is not one organization; rather it is composed of small independent chapters across the U.S. The formation of independent chapters has made KKK groups more difficult to infiltrate, and researchers find it hard to estimate their numbers. Estimates are that about two-thirds of KKK members are concentrated in the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, with another third situated primarily in the lower Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

. KKK members have stepped up recruitment in recent years, but the organization grows slowly, with membership estimated at 5,000–8,000 across 179 chapters. These recent membership campaigns have been based on issues such as people's anxieties about illegal immigration
Illegal immigration
Illegal immigration is the migration into a nation in violation of the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration raises many political, economical and social issues and has become a source of major controversy in developed countries and the more successful developing countries.In...

, urban crime and same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

. Many KKK groups have formed strong alliances with other white supremacist groups, such as neo-Nazis
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

. Some KKK groups have become increasingly "Nazified", adopting the look and emblems of white power skinheads.

On November 14, 2008, an all-white jury of seven men and seven women awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Jordan Gruver, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups; legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of alleged hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that...

 against the Imperial Klans of America
Imperial Klans of America
The Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a white supremacist organization styled after the original Ku Klux Klan . In 2008, it was reported that the IKA had the second largest KKK membership....

. The ruling found that five IKA members had savagely beaten Gruver, then 16 years old, at a Kentucky county fair in July 2006.

The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 (ACLU) has provided legal support to various factions of the KKK in defense of their First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 rights to hold public rallies, parades, and marches, as well as their right to field political candidates.

Current Klan splinter divisions have grown substantially since the 2008 election of U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, the first African-American to hold the office; the Klan has expanded its recruitment efforts to white supremacists at the international level. Current membership estimates by the ADL hold at a national estimate of five thousand.

Ex-Grand Wizard David Duke
David Duke
David Ernest Duke is a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan an American activist and writer, and former Republican Louisiana State Representative. He was also a former candidate in the Republican presidential primaries in 1992, and in the Democratic presidential primaries in...

 has claimed that thousands of Tea Party movement
Tea Party movement
The Tea Party movement is an American populist political movement that is generally recognized as conservative and libertarian, and has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009...

 activists have urged him to run for president in 2012
United States presidential election, 2012
The United States presidential election of 2012 is the next United States presidential election, to be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It will be the 57th quadrennial presidential election in which presidential electors, who will actually elect the President and the Vice President of the United...

  and he is seriously considering entering the Republican Party primaries
Republican Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2012
The 2012 Republican presidential primaries are the selection processes in which voters of the Republican Party will choose their nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 presidential election. The primary contest began with a fairly wide field, and is the first presidential primary...

. Duke has also released a video detailing his platform. In the video, he pledges that as president he would stop all immigration to the U.S., including legal immigration, and says that he "will not let Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 or any nation dictate our foreign policy." He has also claimed that he would be "willing to risk life and limb, endure the barbs of the media” to mount “the most honest campaign for president since the time of our Founding Fathers.” However, Duke is legally disqualified from running for public office as part of his 2002 guilty plea for tax evasion.

Current Klan organizations


A list is maintained by the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 (ADL):
  • Bayou Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, prevalent in Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , Oklahoma
    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

    , Arkansas
    Arkansas
    Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

    , Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

     and other areas of the Southeastern U.S.
  • Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Imperial Klans of America
    Imperial Klans of America
    The Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a white supremacist organization styled after the original Ku Klux Klan . In 2008, it was reported that the IKA had the second largest KKK membership....

  • Knights of the White Camelia
    Knights of the White Camelia
    The Knights of the White Camelia was a secret group of the American South from 1867 through about 1870, similar to and associated with the Ku Klux Klan, supporting white supremacy and opposed to Republican government....

  • Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headed by national director and self-claimed pastor Thom Robb, and based in Zinc, Arkansas
    Zinc, Arkansas
    Zinc is a town in Boone County, Arkansas, United States. The population was only 76 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Zinc is located at ....

    . It claims to be the biggest Klan organization in America today. Spokesmen refer to it as a "sixth era Klan", and it continues to be a racist group.

Vocabulary


Membership in the Klan is secret. Like many fraternal organizations, the Klan has signs which members can use to recognize one another. A member may use the acronym AYAK (Are you a Klansman?) in conversation to surreptitiously identify himself to another potential member. The response AKIA (A Klansman I am) completes the greeting.

Throughout its varied history, the Klan has coined many words beginning with "Kl" including:
  • Klabee: treasurers
  • Klavern: local organization
  • Imperial Kleagle: recruiter
  • Klecktoken: initiation fee
  • Kligrapp: secretary
  • Klonvocation: gathering
  • Kloran
    Kloran
    The Kloran is the handbook of the Ku Klux Klan. Versions of the Kloran typically contain detailed descriptions of the role of different Klan members as well as detailing Klan ceremonies and procedures....

    : ritual book
  • Kloreroe: delegate
  • Imperial Kludd: chaplain


All of the above terminology was created by William Simmons, as part of his 1915 revival of the Klan. The Reconstruction-era Klan used different titles; the only titles to carry over were " Wizard
Grand Wizard
Grand Wizard was the title given to the leader of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan which existed from 1866 to 1871.In 1915, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was created, initially as a fraternal organization. The highest-ranking leader of the latter organization was the Imperial Wizard. National...

 " for the overall leader of the Klan, "Night Hawk
Night Hawk
Competitor for CanadaNight Hawk was a Canadian lacrosse player who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.In 1904 he was member of the Mohawk Indians Lacrosse Team which won the bronze medal in the lacrosse tournament.-References:*...

 " for the official in charge of security, and a few others, mostly for regional officers of the organization.

The Imperial Kludd was the chaplain of the Imperial Klonvokation and he performed "such other duties as may be required by the Imperial Wizard." The Imperial Kaliff was the second highest position after the Imperial Wizard.

See also



  • History of Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey
    History of Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey
    The Ku Klux Klan has had a history in the U.S. state of New Jersey since the early part of the 1920s. The Klan was in the area around Trenton and Camden and had a presence in several of the state's northern counties, but its largest presence was in Monmouth County, where it had a resort at Wall...

  • History of the United States (1865–1918)#Social Discontent
  • Jim Crow laws
    Jim Crow laws
    The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

  • Knights of the Golden Circle
    Knights of the Golden Circle
    The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret society. Some researchers believe the objective of the KGC was to prepare the way for annexation of a golden circle of territories in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for inclusion in the United States as slave states...

  • Ku Klux Klan in Inglewood, California
    Ku Klux Klan in Inglewood, California
    Ku Klux Klan activities in Inglewood, California, were highlighted by the 1922 arrest and trial of 36 men, most of them masked, for a night-time raid on a suspected bootlegger and his family. The raid led to the shooting death of one of the culprits, an Inglewood police officer. A jury returned a...

  • Ku Klux Klan in Maine
    Ku Klux Klan in Maine
    Although the Ku Klux Klan is popularly associated with white supremacy, the revived Klan of the 1920s was also anti-Catholic. In the State of Maine, with a negligible African-American population but a burgeoning number of French-Canadian and Irish immigrants, the Klan revival of the 1920s was...

  • Ku Klux Klan members in United States politics
  • Ku Klux Klan recruitment
    Ku Klux Klan recruitment
    Kleagles were the individuals, responsible for recruiting potential Ku Klux Klan members. Kleagles, as defined by the Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia, were organizers or recruiters, “appointed by imperial wizard or his imperial representative to ‘sell’ the KKK among non-members”...

  • Leaders of the Ku Klux Klan
    Leaders of the Ku Klux Klan
    The national leader of the Ku Klux Klan is called either a Grand Wizard or an Imperial Wizard, depending on which KKK organization is being described.- The First Ku Klux Klan Leader :...

  • List of organizations designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups
  • List of white nationalist organizations
  • The Order (group)
    The Order (group)
    The Order, also known as the Brüder Schweigen or Silent Brotherhood, was an organization active in the United States between 1983 and 1984...

  • Timeline of racial tension in Omaha, Nebraska
    Timeline of racial tension in Omaha, Nebraska
    The timeline of racial tension in Omaha, Nebraska lists events in African-American history in Omaha. These included racial violence, but also include many firsts as the African- American community built its institutions. Omaha has been a major industrial city on the edge of what was a rural,...

  • Tulsa race riot
    Tulsa Race Riot
    The Tulsa race riot was a large-scale racially motivated conflict, May 31 - June 1st 1921, between the white and black communities of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in which the wealthiest African-American community in the United States, the Greenwood District also known as 'The Negro Wall St' was burned to the...

  • White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
    White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
    The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was considered the most militant as well as the most violent Ku Klux Klan in history. They originated in Mississippi in the early 1960s under the leadership of Samuel Bowers, its first Grand Wizard. The White Knights of Mississippi was formed in 1964, and it...



External links



  • Civil Rights Greensboro
  • "Ku Klux Klan", Southern Poverty Law Center
    Southern Poverty Law Center
    The Southern Poverty Law Center is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against white supremacist groups; legal representation for victims of hate groups; monitoring of alleged hate groups, militias and extremist organizations; and educational programs that...

  • "KKK", Anti-Defamation League
    Anti-Defamation League
    The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

  • "Inside Today's KKK", multimedia, Life magazine
    Life (magazine)
    Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

    , April 13, 2009
  • Interview with Stanley F. Horn, author of Invisible Empire: The Story of the Ku Klux Klan, 1866–1871 (1939), Forest History Society, Inc., May 1978