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They had played with an engine of power and mystery, though organized on entirely innocent lines, and found themselves overcome by a belief that something must lie behind it all—that there was, after all, a serious purpose, a work for the Klan to do." Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement promoting resistance and white supremacy during the Reconstruction Era. In 18, the federal government passed the Enforcement Acts, which were intended to prosecute and suppress Klan crimes.The first Klan had mixed results in terms of achieving its objectives.
After the Klan was suppressed, similar insurgent paramilitary groups arose that were explicitly directed at suppressing Republican voting and turning Republicans out of office: the White League, which started in Louisiana in 1874; and the Red Shirts, which started in Mississippi and developed chapters in the Carolinas.
It seriously weakened the black political establishment through its use of assassinations and threats of violence; it drove some people out of politics.
On the other hand, it caused a sharp backlash, with passage of federal laws that historian Eric Foner says were a success in terms of "restoring order, reinvigorating the morale of Southern Republicans, and enabling blacks to exercise their rights as citizens"Klan declined in strength in part because of internal weaknesses; its lack of central organization and the failure of its leaders to control criminal elements and sadists.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Independent Monitor, September 1, 1868.
A full-scale scholarly history analyzes the cartoonː Guy W.
commonly called the KKK or simply the Klan, is three distinct movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism, The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s.
It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders.In 1915, the second Klan was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.Starting in 1921, it adopted a modern business system of using full-time paid recruiters and appealed to new members as a fraternal organization, of which many examples were flourishing at the time.According to The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (1907), "Beginning in April, 1867, there was a gradual transformation ...The members had conjured up a veritable Frankenstein. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans.Its official rhetoric focused on the threat of the Catholic Church, using anti-Catholicism and nativism.