The Ku Klux Klan are often considered a secretive society of murderous racist who hid their identity to protect themselves from the crimes they committed. While member of secretive groups prefer to remain hidden in public, members of the KKK were noticeable as they wore white robes, masks and conical hats…
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The group did not really flourish until the 1920s in efforts to oppose civil rights. There are three recognized Klans that each emerged at racially tense moments in American history. The first arouse in 1865, the second in 1915 and the third in the 1950s. To understand how such widespread hate developed into an organized group that coordinated violent attacks and murder, it is the first group that needs to be studied. Arguably, this first Klan is not much different than modern day terrorist groups that grew out of frontier mentality of personal justice. Lester and Wilson note that while the origins of the KKK are difficult to document as the group was secretive and did not talk, “it illustrates how men, by circumstances and conditions, in part by their own creation, may be carried away from their moorings and drifted along in a course against which reason and judgment protest.” (49). The acts perpetrated by these men as a group would likely never have been done by any individual in the group. However, when the group convened and shared their hatred, they put aside morality and ethics in pursuit of a common goal. They would feel justified in their actions as an act of war just like modern terrorist groups. It is not surprising that group originated where it did in Middle Tennessee. “The Ku Klux Klan was the outgrowth of peculiar conditions, social, civil and political, which prevailed at the South from 1865 to 1869.” (Lester & Wilson, 50). Because the war had just ended and men were returning home in the aftermath, many of the originators likely felt bored and frustrated which initially pulled them together. Their main purpose was amusement, originally. The naming was derived from the Greek word “Kukloi” meaning “a band or circle.” ((Lester & Wilson, 55). The name had no definitive meaning and they enjoyed the fact that no one would have any idea what the name meant. The costuming was originally worn to keep that level of mystery going more as an effort to entertain themselves than anything. They got on their horses and “rode slowly through the streets of Pulaski waving to the people and making grotesque gestures, which created merriment to the unsuperstitious, and to the superstitious, great fear.” (Davis, 8). Many were amused by the antics, but the negroes in particular were fearful believing they saw ghosts. It was this power and mystery that gave them a feeling of dominance and gave rise to the ideas that they might do something more with their group then just have fun. “They desired new members and knew human nature well enough to feel that if they made the impression that they were very exclusive and select, applications for membership would be numerous.” Davis, 9). This worked just as they expected. The group decided against any typical military or political titles but still want to adopt some type of naming conventions for leadership and rank. They continued this same method of mystery and secrecy in selecting meaningless names for these titles such as “Grand Cyclops, Grand Magi, Grand Turk, The Grand Scribe, Lictors and Night Hawks.” (Davis, 10). They named their meeting place the den and all members were called ghouls. To join the group, candidates were led to the den basement blindfolded and asked many questions. They would either be accepted into the group or rejected based on the responses. If accepted, the blindfold would be removed
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(“Foundation of the Klu Klux Klan Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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(Foundation of the Klu Klux Klan Book Report/Review)
“Foundation of the Klu Klux Klan Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/family-consumer-science/1417289-foundation-of-the-klu-klux-klan.
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