The origin, growth, development and decline of Ku Klux Klan or Klan (KKK) are interconnected with the history of slavery and racial supremacy in the American society. The Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War helped the slaves to be independent from the clutches of slavery and forced labor…
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The history of KKK can be broadly divided into three: first, second and third. To be specific, the first Klan can be connected with its origin, the second with its growth/development and the third with its decline.
As pointed out, the first Klan can be considered as the origin of KKK in America. For instance, the first Klan was formed in the year 1865 in Tennessee. The retired hands from the Confederate Army were the members who established KKK as a terrorist organization to fight against the freemen. But Bullard (1996), states that “By the mid 1870s, white Southerners didn’t need the Klan as much as before because they had by that time retaken control of most southern state governments”. The name of this organization originates from Greek language, meaning ‘group or circle of brothers’.
The organizational structure of the first Klan was not based upon centralization or decentralization of power because there were a number of groups based upon the same ideology of racism. During this period, the Southern states within America were deeply influenced by the first Klan. In addition, the leaders and members began to target the black population in the southern states. The people who were in favor of racial equality were treated cruelly or murdered by the Klan members. But the Force Acts passed by the authorities in 1870 and the following year were helpful to limit the anti-social deeds initiated by the Klan. In short, the first Klan can be considered as the crude form of KKK, which spread the message of racial supremacy among the people in America. The second Klan: 1915–1944 The formation of the second Klan was in Georgia, in the year 1915. So, this year can be considered as the benchmark of the growth and development of Klan as a racist organization. But Laqueur (1977), opines that “The Second Klan (ca. 1915- 1944) also stood for white supremacy, but at the same time it campaigned for a great many other causes such as patriotism and attacked bootleggers, crapshooters and even wife-beaters” (p.10). Later in 1921, the leaders transformed the Klan from unorganized groups to well knit organization. For instance, the second Klan adopted an innovative system to recruit new members to the organization which accelerated its popularity among the majority. From a different angle of view, large scale immigration helped the Klan to spread its influence to the Western parts of America. Besides, more and more ideas were inculcated to the initial plan to spread racism. For instance, national politics and protest against the spread of communist ideology were connected to the Klan’s initial plan. To be specific, this change helped the Klan to have wide spread popularity among the people and violent activism became the most important mode of protest. Gradually, the second Klan became more and more centralized. This was helpful to co-ordinate the
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