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The Ku Klux Klan started after the Civil War with a group of white Southerners who were very angry when the war ended. They were angry because the Blacks had won their freedom from slavery and they had lost their slaves. No more slavery meant their lives had changed and they felt threatened.
The Klan is Created
The boredom of a small-town life made six young Confederate veterans from the south gather around a fireplace one night, where they thought of a secret group. They made the group to occupy themselves and to get revenge on the many Blacks that had won their freedom in the Civil War. The group wanted to torture former slaves, because the slaves had won their freedom. The Klan members felt threatened because they thought the Blacks would start to get more powerful. In addition, many Klan members were angry because they lost their slaves.
The head of the group was called the Grand Cyclops and everyone else was called a Ghoul. The name of the group was hard to decide. One man, Richard R. Reed, suggested the word kuklos, meaning circle and cycle. Then Captain John B. Kennedy, who had an ear for alliteration (words starting with the same sound), added the word Clan. After some tinkering the group came up with the name Ku Klux Klan.
Much of the Klanís early activities were basically mischief and consisted of the Klan riding around during the night on their horses. One of the things that the Klan loved to do was put on a white mask, which looked ghoulish with only the two holes for eyes and the hole for a mouth, and ride up to a house where a black family lived and demand water. When the Klan member got the water he actually poured it into a hidden canteen. After drinking several buckets of water, he would exclaim he hadnít drunk anything since he died on the battlefield. Then he would ride away while the black family was thinking the Klan member was a ghost! While these things were harmless, the Klan was responsible for many more dangerous things, such as mobbing, hangings, and shootings.
During the mobbings the Klan would riot by yelling out racist things. They would also hurt people who spoke out against them. Sometimes they would disrupt a certain black organization and rob people.
During the hangings the KKK would find some black people, whether it meant kidnapping them or taking people just walking by. They would take them to a hidden place where they hanged people.
When shootings happened, the Klan were often the ones who started it, most likely by going and shooting at rallies for black people. The Klan also just started shooting at cars with black people going by or at a black familyís house.
Although the Klan did these horrible things, they were very rarely arrested for doing them. Although some police agreed with the Ku Klux Klan, others tried their hardest to find and arrest them. It was hard to find the KKK, though, because they never stayed in one place for long because of the fear of getting caught.
As the years went by, the Klan was getting weaker and weaker because the Blacks were getting stronger and stronger. Also the police forces got better around the mid 1940ís. Many tried to bring the KKK back to full strength, but they failed. The Ku Klux Klan thought maybe they needed a new leader, but after a new leader and his death in 1949 the Klan got even smaller and was never as strong as they were in their first few years. Now there are still Klan members, but very few of them are still active because the kinds of violence they participated in before the 1940ís would be severely punished today.
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