Ku Klux KlanOver the years many people havecreatedgroups to support their beliefs.
These groups allow people with the sameideas to gather together and work out plans to advance their ideas. Allof the groups that have been established have not necessarily gained apositive image from the public. One example is the Ku Klux Klan. The KuKlux Klan originated over one hundred years ago and has gone through manyeras and changes since its beginning. Although many people know the KuKlux Klan exists, they do not understand its purpose or how it has changedthroughout its life.
After the Civil War ended, the Southernstates went through a time known as Reconstruction. Ex-Confederate soldiershad returned home now, and they were still upset about the outcome of thewar. It is at this point in time that the Ku Klux Klan became a part ofeveryday life for many Southerners. In the beginning the Ku Klux Klan wasstarted to be a way for people who had the same views to spend time together.The original members meant of the Ku Klux Klan to be a “hilarious socialclub” that would be full of aimless fun (Invisible Empire, p.9), thoughin later years the Ku Klux Klan became known for their violence againstpeople outside the white race and people who associated with them.
Contraryto what most people believe, the Ku Klux Klan was started because of afew people wanted to have some innocent fun, not because they were intendingto start a chain of violence on anyone outside the white race.(The Klan,p.2)The Ku Klux Klan began in Pulaski, Tennessee,a small town south of Nashville. On the night of December 24, 1865six ex-confederate soldiers were sitting around a fireplace it the lawoffice of Judge Thomas M. Jones.
(Invisible Empire, p.9) These six friendswere having a discussion and were trying to come up with an idea to cheerthemselves up. One of the men suggested that they should start a club andthe rest of the men agreed with the idea.
After discussing the mew idea,the men decided to meet again and retired for the night. The second meetingwas again at Judge Thomas M. Jones’ law office and was attended by thesame six men.
During this meeting the group decided it need a name. Aftermany hours of deliberating they decided on the name derived from the Greekword kuklos, meaning circle Ku Klux.(“Intro. to the Knights of the KKK”,p.2) The group later added “Klan” to the word to make the phrase complete.At this time the group decided what to call the different ranks of themembers, starting with the leader, the Grand Cyclops, all the way downto the ghouls, or members of no rank.
When the men had finished organizing,they were overjoyed about their group, and they decided to show everyonetheir creation. The members wrapped themselves and their horses in sheetand rode through the small town and terrified everyone, especially Negroes.No doubt, this is the harmless little club that later would be taken toextremes by its members.
Admittedly, the Ku Klux Klan did becomeout of control in later years, but when it was first created it had nospecific meaning; it was a way just to have fun. After the members sawthe effect the group’s appearance had on people, they began to use theresults to their advantage. Because the Klan resembled ghost, many of thecitizens of Pulaski believed them to be dead soldiers of the ConfederateArmy when they saw them riding on their horses through the small town.While Negroes were busy avoiding the Ku Klux Klan, its purpose changed.The Ku Klux Klan began aiming its violent actions toward Negroes, Jews,Orientals, and various other members of society that did not belong tothe white race. Although violence was already occurring against non-whitesbefore the organization of the Ku Klux Klan, the Klan used this fact asa way to keep their “enemies” under control.
No one denies that the KuKlux Klan became a brutal force over the years, but the fact remains thatviolence was not the reason the group was founded.It is true that all groups and club mustgo through changes, but many changes of the changes which the Ku Klux Klanendured were not necessarily the best for everyone. Shortly after the KuKlux Klan’s first ride, its members began to cause a major impact on society.Many members decided that the Klan could be used as a way of discrimination.Many members also saw the Ku Klux Klan as a way for the South to regaincontrol and keep the “Northern folk” out. Another reason the Ku Klux Klanchanged is that members broke off from the original den and created theirown dens.
At this point in time any “roughouser” could join the Ku KluxKlan for only ten dollars. By 1879 the membership of the Ku Klux Klan hadexceeded eighty-five thousand members. Many people believe this is thepoint when the Ku Klux Klan became uncontrollable and its remificationsengulfed the entire nation. Visitors to the town of Pulaski also inspiredthe growth of the Ku Klux Klan. These visitors went back home after theirtrips and began sitting up their own dens and branches of the Ku Klux Klan.More that a dozen kindred groups were set up during this period. All ofthese groups were deeply entrenched in the Southern states.
Though thegrowth of the Klan was steady, it was undirected and undisciplined causingmany of the dens to become violent and unruly. The Ku Klux Klan had a greatdeal of external help in outgrowing the small town of Pulaski. Newspaperand magazine articles added fuel by publishing propaganda and stories aboutthe mysterious order which had taken over the south. Indeed the Ku KluxKlan had surpassed the expectations of the original members.Members of the Ku Klux Klan saw the greatincrease in growth of the group and decided to have a national conventionto help maintain order within the group.
The Ku Klux Klan National Conventionwas held in April of 1867 at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.(Hooded Americanism, p.9) Here the Grand Cyclops from all the dens metto discuss and set the general guidelines for the Ku Klux Klan’s differentdens across the United States, and the group also set specific rules formembers. Also at the convention the group drafted and approved a constitutionso everyone would be aware of the group’s rules and regulations. It wasat this meeting the Ku Klux Klan decided to appoint a Grand Wizard to headand control all of the dens of the Klan across the United States.
GeneralNathan Bedford Forrest was the group’s choice for the position and he gladlyaccepted. Under the command of General Forrest the Ku Klux Klan becamea greater voice in society than it had ever been. Since their new leaderwas in place, the final objective of the convention was reached by creatingan official symbol of the Ku Klux Klan.
The symbol is a cross with a dropof blood(representing the blood of Jesus Christ) within a circle. Thissymbol was meant to represent to totality of the White race. Admittedly,the Ku Klux Klan still had problems, but after their national conventionmay of its activities were more effective and organized.Almost every group that has ever come abouthas had its problems and the Ku Klux Klan was no exception. As with anycontroversial group, the public asked the government for assistance indisposing of this violent organization. The Ku Klux Klan had become softin enforcing its policies and this deficiency allowed its members to causechaos throughout the Southern states.
Because many of the police supportedthe Ku Klux Klan movement, may incidents occurred and no investigationever followed. The Ku Klux Klan was finally slowed when the Federal Bureauof Investigation stepped in and became involved in reducing the power ofthe group. The major reason many incidents took place is that many ex-confederatesoldiers had begun organizing their own dens. The hatred of blacks wasthe main reason that may people decided to join the Ku Klux Klan movement.Certainly, if the Ku Klux Klan had held to its original goals and purposes,it could have avoided many problems and negative publicity it began tohave in later years.As the Ku Klux Klan’s membership grew,it obtained a wide range of enrollees. The Ku Klux Klan had members fromall social classes.
Not all of the members joined to cause trouble; manyjoined to keep from being victims. Ku Klux Klan members admitted that theywere a “rough bunch of boys” and a ten dollar joining fee had allowedanyone to join; no person was responsible for monitoring motives for joining.For instance many politicians had joined just so they would have the helpof the Ku Klux Klan in campaigning for the election. General Forrest triedto be strict on membership requirements, but his objective failed. As theKu Klux Klan began to branch out, the rules seemed to be forgotten. Thespurt in growth of membership was soon disrupted, and just before the 1900’sthe Ku Klux Klan broke apart and would not officially come back until theyear 1915.
The Ku Klux Klan never hit any significant growth period againuntil the 1950’s when the civil rights movement cause a large increasein membership of the group. Eventhough the Ku Klux Klan dwindledin membership, it never died in the eyes of the people who truly believedin it.The Ku Klux Klan has not drastically changedsince the origination of the group. The Ku Klux Klan today is an institutionof chivalry, humanity, mercy, and patriotism which are all characteristicsof the original Klan.(“Southern Cross White Knights”, p.2) Also, the KuKlux Klan is dedicated as preserving the maintenance of White Pride andthe rights of the White Race, which was also a goal of the original founders.
(“NorthGeorgia White Knights”,p.1) The activities of the modern Ku Klux Klan varyfrom den to den depending on the inclination of its members. Some densof the Ku Klux Klan tend to use more violence to express their viewpointthan other dens. Some groups use threats, arson, and other formsof violence to force their ideas on modern society, while others choosejust to march and protest opposing views. Regardless of the activitieseach den decides to participate in, the main goal of the Ku Klux Klan todayis the progression of the White race and it is the same goal the originalfounders focused on. The main characteristic of the Ku Klux Klan throughoutthe years has been the group is a gathering of white Christian men andwomen who have joined together because of a common bond they share by bloodand faith.(“Knights of the KKK”, p.
1) This is what the original foundersintended the group to become and it has achieved this goal. Eventhoughthe Ku Klux Klan is sometimes looked upon as a “hate group”, the characteristicsof the group are a positive for society.Since the late 1980’s the Ku Klux Klan’smembership has gone through a major decline. Statistics show that the KuKlux Klan’s memberships has dropped to about five thousand compared toabout forty-two thousand during the 1960’s.(St. Louis Post Dispatch, p.1)Many of the members have changed from their white robes to three piecesuits.
People like David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the Klan during the1970’s and 1980’s, have changed the image of the group. Many head officialsof the Klan now hold political offices and have other important roles inthe nation’s government. At this point in time no single organization ofthe Ku Klux Klan is in existence. The Klan has splintered into severalindependent groups. Since the Ku Klux Klan has broken up into many groups,no one knows the exact number of members of the Klan or its affiliatedgroups.
Although the Ku Klux Klan’s members have changed their appearanceand the membership has declined, no one can deny that the Klan is stilla major influence on society.Due to some changes in the Ku Klux Klan,the organization now has new objectives. Leaders of the Klan now say theywork to replace the collapsed society and push for the advancement of theWhite Race. Other objectives of the Klan are to start focusing on the familyagain and to close the United States borders to stop immigration.(“KajunKnights of the KKK”, p.1) The Klan also intends on stopping abortion, reversediscrimination, and welfare for those who do not need it.(“Imperial Klansof America”, p.
2) The most important objectives of the Klan today are tooutlaw homosexuality and inter-racial marriages. They attribute the imminentdown fall of modern society to these two problems. The Ku Klux Klan agreesthat everyone should be proud of their race, which means White people havethe right to be proud also. Therefore, the Ku Klux Klan reasons that allanti-white policies should be discarded and people be hired, promoted,and given scholarships according to their ability not for any other reason.
Any new members of the Ku Klux Klan have to take a pledge not to commitany crime against anyone. The Ku Klux Klan’s motto printed on propagandais “Not for self-But for others;” this is the main focus of the Klan today.Eventhough the Ku Klux Klan has new objectives, the main goal of the organizationis to make the White race superior to all others.Although the Ku Klux Klan has gone throughmany changes since its beginning, the present Klan is not very differentfrom the original organization.
Though the Ku Klux Klan is an organizationlike no other, it still has endured many problems as do other groups. Itis impossible for people who do not study the Ku Klux Klan to understandwhy it exist, but some of their concepts are really based on solid ground.In fact, people are always commenting that people should stand up for whatthey believe in and the Ku Klux Klan is a perfect example. If more peoplewould follow the Ku Klux Klan’s example maybe this country would have morepeople working to better life here.
BIBLIOGRAPHYChalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism.New York:Franklin Watts, 1981.Horn, Stanley F. Invisible Empire.Connecticut:John E.
Edwards, 1969.Imperial Klans of America. http://www.kkkk.net/index.html.
13 April1998.Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. http://www.kkk.com/intro.
htm#stands.11 April1998.Kajun Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.http://louisianaknights.
com/belief.html.13 April1998″KKK, Though in Decline, Packs Punch.
“St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 August1996, SectionNews Analysis.Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
http://www.k-k-k.com/belief.html.13 April1998North Georgia White Knights. http://www.
theklan.com/inform.htm.12 April1998Sims, Patsy. The Klan.
New York:Stein and Day, 1985.Southern Cross Militant Knightsof the Ku Klux Klan. http://personal.atl.bellsouth.net/atl/a/k/akia/index.html.12 April 1998