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Ku Klux Klan Essay

1117 words - 5 pages

KKK “Ku Klux Klan”


Ex-Confederate soldiers established the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866. The Klan extended into almost every southern state by 1870. They developed the first two words of their name from the Greek word kyklos, meaning circle and took the third as a variant of the word clan. The Klan soon turned to intimidating newly freed African Americans. Riding at night the Klan terrorized and sometimes murdered those it opposed. Members adopted a hooded white costume and the white costume intended to represent the ghosts of the Confederate. The costume was used to avoid identification and to frighten victims during nighttime raids. Its members waged an ...view middle of the document...

In 1871, the federal government took a series of steps to counter the KKK and its violence. Congress organized a joint select committee made up of seven senators and 14 representatives to look into the Klan and its activities. It then passed the civil rights act of 1871, frequently referred to as the ku klux klan act. Which made night riding a crime and empowered the president to order the use of federal troops to put an end to the Klan by force. The law also provided criminal and civil penalties for people convicted of private conspiracies, such as those perpetrated by the KKK and the act intended to deny others their civil rights. In the 1920s, a man by the name of Hugo L. Black joined the KKK. Black is most remembered as being a member of the U.S. Supreme Court justice, U.S. Senator and an attorney. In 1923 Black was a trial attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, which at the time was controlled by members of the Klan. Black later claimed to have left the group after several years, but no clear evidence documented his departure. In 1937 Black made a radio address to the nation, in which he admitted his Klan membership but claimed he had resigned and had not had any connection with the group for many years. He also stated he had no prejudice against anyone because of their race, religion, or ethnicity. Also in 1871 President Ulysses S. Grant relocated troops from the Indian wars on the western plains to South Carolina, in order to stop the Klan violence. In October and November of 1871, the federal Circuit Court for the District of South Carolina held a series of trials of KKK members suspected of having engaged in criminal conspiracies, but the trials resulted in few convictions. After WWI, the KKK had about 4 million members. The Klan exerted considerable political influence, helping to elect candidates to state and national offices. The group was strong not only in southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, but also in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. But, by the end of the 1920s a backlash against the KKK had developed.

Reports of its violence turned public and its membership declined to about 40,000. At the same time Louisiana, Michigan, and Oklahoma passed anti-mask laws intended to frustrate Klan...

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