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Kkk In The 1920S Essay, Research Paper

The Ku Klux Klan, is a secret terrorist organization that

originated in the southern states during the period of

Reconstruction following the American Civil War and was

reactivated on a wider geographic basis in the 20th century. The

original Klan was organized in Pulaski, Tennessee, during the

winter of 1865 to 1866, by six former Confederate army officers

who gave their society a name adapted from the Greek word kuklos

(”circle”). Although the Ku Klux Klan began as a prankish social

organization, its activities soon were directed against the

Republican Reconstruction governments and their leaders, both

black and white, which came to power in the southern states in

1867.

The Ku Klux Klan’s long history of violence grew out of the

resentment and hatred many white Southerners felt in the

aftermath of the Civil War. Blacks, having won the struggle for

freedom from slavery, were now faced with a new struggle against

widespread racism and the terrorism brought about by the Ku Klux

Klan. While the menace of the KKK has peaked and waned over the

years, it has never vanished.

William J. Simmons, a veteran, preacher and salesman, was a

compulsive joiner, holding memberships in many different

societies and two churches. He had always dreamed of starting his

own fraternal group and in the fall of 1915 he put his plans into

action. On Thanksgiving Eve, Simmons herded 15 fellow

fraternalists onto a bus and drove them from Atlanta to nearby

Stone Mountain. There, before a cross of pine boards, Simmons lit

a match and the Ku Klux Klan of the 20th century was born.

In 1920, the “re-born” Klan consisted only of a few thousand

members. With the help of two publicists, Simmons spread the

word of the Klan around the U.S. like wildfire. The Klan was to

be pro-American, which to them meant anti-black, anti-Jewish and

most importantly, anti-Catholic. The Klan grew rapidly from a

few thousand members to millions of Klansmen. Now that the Klan

was growing they made it very clear that their hatred was to be

directed towards Asians, immigrants, bootleggers, dope, graft,

night clubs and road houses, violation of the Sabbath, sex, pre-

and extra-marital escapades and scandalous behavior.

The Ku Klux Klan was infamous for their violent, racist, and

immoral acts of pure hatred towards “impure” Americans. Lynching

was not an uncommon ritual for the Klan. Klansmen would often

break into the homes of African American and kidnap them. They

then would whip them repeatedly while they would chant phrases

exhulting white supremacy. After viciously whipping their victim

they would hang them and leave them for others to see. They

wanted to put fear into the hearts of their enemies. Between

1918 and 1927, there were no fewer than 417 lynchings of blacks.

Surprisingly, the Klan was most prominent in the Midwest,

rather than the South. The Imperial Wizard(highest ranking

klansman) Hiram Evans, a dentist, said that they were proud of

being “hicks, and rubes and drivers of second hand fords.”

However the more respectable members abandoned the Klan when

national organizer David Stephenson of Indiana was convicted of

sadistic sexual murder and exposed the Klan’s corruptions to the

authorities.

In the mid-1920s, inept and exploitive leadership, internal

conflict, and alleged Klan immorality and violence badly damaged

the Klan’s reputation, thereby causing increased political

opposition. By 1929 the Klan had been reduced to several thousand

members. Today the Ku Klux Klan is still active. Fortunately

the Klan’s population is still rather low and very scattered

across the United States. However, as long as there are seeds of

hatred the reality of the K.K.K. will remain an evil within our

society.


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