History of the Ku Klux Klan referat

History of the Ku Klux Klan

The first Klan

At the end of the American Civil War radical members of Congress wanted to destroy the white power structure of the Rebel states. After the election of 1866 the first Reconstruction Act was passed. It divided the South into five military districts, each under a major general. New elections were to be held with freed male slaves being allowed to vote. Many members of the Confederate Army were shocked because the Black Codes (no right to vote, forbidding them to sit on juries, limiting their right to testify against white men etc.) didn’t work any more. The first branch of the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May 1866. Most of the leaders were former members of the Confederate Army and the first Grand wizard was Nathan Forrest, an outstanding general during the war. In the next years, Klansmen wearing masks, white cardboard hats and draped in white sheets tortured and killed black Americans and sympathetic whites. Between 1868 and 1870 they restored white rule in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

At first the main objective of white supremacy organizations such as the kkk was to stop black people from voting. After white governments had been established in the South they undermined the power of black protection groups. The Klan itself explains its aims like this: The kkk came into existence at the end of the War between the states in a period called “Black Reconstruction.” During that period, most White people had lost the right to vote. Illiterate Blacks, with no history of civilized government, became the bulk of the voting population, resulting in tremendous crime, violence, and corruption against White Southerners. At the darkest hour, the Klan arose and restored the government of the South back to the Southern people, and as Woodrow Wilson said, it saved civilization on this continent.

In 1870 President Ulysses Grant instigated an investigation into the kkk because Congress urged him to. A year later a Grand Jury reported:

There has existed since 1868, in many counties of the state, an organization known as the Ku Klux Klan, or Invisible Empire of the south, which embraces in its membership a large proportion of the White population of every profession and class. The Klan has a constitution an bylaws, which provides, among other things, that each member shall furnish himself with a pistol, a Ku Klux gown and a signal instrument. The operations of the Klan are executer in the night and are invariably directed against members of the Republican Party. The Klan is inflicting summary vengeance on the colored citizens of these citizens by breaking into their houses at the dead of night, dragging them from their beds, torturing them in the most inhuman manner, and in many instances murdering.

Nathan B. Forrest gave up his job as the IW because the actions of the Klan got more and more cruel.

On April 20th, 1871 the kkact was passed and became law. This act gave the president the power to use federal troops against the Klan. Hundreds of members were imprisoned. That’s why the organization practically disappeared.

The second Klan

A preacher named William J. Simmons reformed the Klan in 1915

After the First World War they also became extremely hostile to Jews, Roman Catholics, socialists, communists and anybody they identified as foreigners.

In 1922 Hiram W. Evans became the IW and the number of members grew rapidly. Some of the Klansmen even held political power. By 1925 the membership reached 4 mio and though they were sometimes arrested for serious crimes, they were very unlikely to be convicted by local Southern juries.

But after Klan leader David C. Stephenson was convicted for second-degree murder the organization was disbanded in 1944.

But the Civil Rights Movement resulted in a revival of the kkk in the 1950s. They put the blacks under pressure not to vote and they were successful. In the state of Mississippi by a 42% population of blacks only 2% went to the elections of 1960. Lynching was a very popular method for terrorizing them. In many instances the churches of black people were firebombed during Sunday school classes.

In 1981 some Klan members robbed and lynched a nineteen year old Black because an Afro-American wasn’t found guilty of killing a white policeman. They said: “If a black man can get away with killing a white man, we ought to be able to get away with killing a black man.”

The local police claimed that Michael Donald, the killed teenager, had to do with drugs and that his dealer must have killed him. But his mother led a protest march about the failed police investigation and in the end the two murderer of Donald were sentenced to death (first time since 1913 that a white man was executed for a crime against an African American) and life imprisonment while the Klan itself had to pay 7 mio dollars

Nowadays there are relations to the German Skinheads and they even worship Hitler. There are about 30000-70000 members of the “Imperial Klans of America” and “the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” who want to protect the US from the blacks and who want to become a political party.

Their newest idea is to quarantine all AIDS carriers because this is the only way to stop the illness.

Their actions and symbols

The word Ku Klux is from Greek origin and means circle. Klan comes from the Scottish word that stands for the whole family with all your relatives – a big brotherhood.

Some say they castrate people, slide open pregnant women, hang people, rip persons into four pieces with the help of horses or light them on. But I think it isn’t that worse. Of course they torture people or kill them or burn down their houses and they are rasist but the other things are probably only horrible stories.

The Klansmen wear white robes and heads with holes for the eyes. I can read a little excerpt from their homepage:

The original meaning of the robe and hood comes from ancient European rituals meaning fraternal brotherhood and anonymity in doing good works. It is true that in “Black Reconstruction” it shielded the identity of Klan patriots from the tyrannical rulers of the South. We wear the robe and hood in our ceremonies in honor of our traditions. Our robe is no more improper or out of place in our rituals today than the judges’ robes in modern courts.

Sometimes they ride along on horses with wrapped Hufe so that they don’t make a sound. When nobody knew this organization they were very frightening, especially for the blacks who often believe in ghosts and the flying soul of their ancestors.

They leave the letters kkk at the place of their crime and of course they only act at nighttime.

When you watch TV there are always shown those burning crosses in front of a house. The Klan itself says it’s not anti-Catholic but it’s an old Scottish symbol against tyranny and it should fear the opponents of the Klan.

Some say the organization is Anti-Catholic but the Bible is one thing they believe in. I found something on their homepage about this:

The true Klan is not anti-catholic in any fashion – both Catholics and Protestants rode with Nathan B. Forrest, the Klan founder.

The fiery cross is an ancient symbol of White racial victory against tyranny. Also, it is an ancient Christian symbol. One can, for instance, find candles in the shape of the cross in many churches. The Methodist uses the fiery cross as their symbol and it symbolizes the lighting of the cross, of God’s light. It is not a desecration!

The 12 chapters of the Römerbrief are laws for the Klansmen. A sword stands for their courage to fight against tyranny and that they maybe have to pay with their life.

Their flag looks like this … and often you can find the old southern flag hanging from buildings in Georgia, Tennessee etc. where the people have the same opinion as the Klansmen. But it is forbidden to show the flag without putting the Stars and Stripes next to it.

Chain of command

At the top there stands the Imperial Wizard who leads the Klan nationwide and he’s assisted by ten Genii

In each state, where the Klan has an active sub organization there is a Grand Dragon with his eight Hydras to help him.

Big states are divided into dominions that are ruled by a Grand Titan and six furies

A dominion includes several counties, controlled by Grand Giant and four Night Hawks

The last part in this chain of command is the local Klan whose leader is called Exalted Cyclops, assisted by two Night Hawks

And of course there are the common Klansmen called Ghouls.

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