Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is one of America's oldest and most feared groups. Driven by the dream of a world with only one master race, the KKK often uses violence and moves above the law to promote their cause. They didn't start of violent, or to promote white supremacy. They have been in the shadows for over 130 years and continue to thrive in America's society today.


The Ku Klux Klan began almost accidentally during the reconstruction period after the civil war in the Southern United States. The southern people had suffered greatly from the effects of the great war. Many of them lost their homes and plantations. Many also lost friends and loved ones to the war. The people needed a release from the sorrow of everyday life.


In 1865, six men from a small town in Tennessee accidentally began what has grown to be the largest and most feared "hate group" in the country. The men decided to make a club to help release the stress of the times. The men were all poor and could not afford to make gowns or great costumes for the group, so they decided to use linens. They wore the linens over their backs and put pillowcases on their heads. They also draped the linens over their horses. The Ku Klux Klan was going to ride for the first time. In the beginning, the men wanted to do nothing more than play pranks on people. However, the people were more frightened than they were cheered up. They soon realized what they could do with these fear tactics. The South had turned into a place that was no longer theirs. The slaves were now free (many of these men were slave owners) and carpetbaggers were coming from the North to take advantage of the southern people. They saw the opportunity to set back the South to what it had been. The KKK soon began to ride through political rallies of the carpetbaggers. People often fled the rallies out of fear. Word quickly spread across the South about these masked men. Many people loved the idea and wanted to be involved. The Klan quickly grew. A leader was soon needed to control the large group. Their first choice was Southern General Robert E. Lee. Although he supported the group and its cause, he was very ill and could not handle the task. Their next choice was a man named Nathan Bedford Forrest.


Forrest, although he wasn't as well known as General Lee, he was a great leader. He was born in Mississippi and owned a plantation. He fought for the confederate army for a long time before they recognized his abilities. Although he didn't arrive early enough to greatly impact the war, he gained the respect of the top confederate leaders. After the war he was infuriated by the carpetbaggers and needed a way to fight back. He saw the Ku Klux Klan as a way to do it.


He was quickly accepted as the "Grand Wizard". He had absolute power over the Klan members. The men were eager to do what he said, they trusted him. Many of the men were in need of a sense of belonging. The KKK gave them this. The Klan was very secretive, all of the members were safe from people knowing their real identities (if that was their wish). Because of this secrecy, they gained the alternate name of "The Invisible Empire".


The Klan really began to take control in the year of 1868. They vowed to rid the south of carpetbaggers, blacks and any person who supported them. They stole the oppositions goods, beat them and even killed them. These murders were known as "lynching". They would drag the person to the center of the town and hang them in front of everyone. This method was very effective, people feared it would happen to themselves if they had anything to do with the carpetbaggers or blacks.


After the U.S. government removed troops from the South in the late 1800's, the Klan achieved its goal. Many of the groups disbanded and Forrest left. After the turn of the century, it started again. This time the goal was much larger, freeing America of all non white, Christian Americans. This is the Ku Klux Klan we know today. The new breed of Klan differed from the old version in many