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The Ku Klux Klan

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SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE

McAllen, Texas

Research Proposal

The Ku Klux Klan

Submitted By

Alejandro San Roman

US History 1301

Submitted to the Department of History and Philosophy

        Since the beginning of white slavery in America, racism has become much larger throughout history. Especially when Abraham Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. In the December of 1865, in Pulaski, near Alabama border of Tennessee, six young men decided to form a group. They were mostly young men who had been officers during the Civil War, who fought for Southern Independence. The six young founders were Captain John Lester, Captain John Kennedy, Captain James Crowe, Frank McCord, Richard Reed, and Calvin Jones. One of the group suggested the name “Kuklos.”[1]  This group would then be called the Ku Klux Klan, or the KKK. The original KKK had few goals including, erasing the Republican Party, regaining control of black labor, and to legalize slavery once again.

        At first the small group of men only joked around innocently and rode into the night dressed as ghosts, and claimed they were the spirits of dead confederate soldiers. This activity bore no ill intent and was simply for entertainment. As they rode around dressed as ghosts they claimed they were soldiers and said odd things like they “I’ve not had a drink of water since the Battle of Shiloh.” The prospect of angry confederate spirits who have come back from the dead scared the newly freed local blacks.  The Klan would take full advantage of this fear, and use this to terrorize the blacks.

        The Ku Klux Klan was very similar to any college group and they enjoyed horsing around and being simple college students. The organizers of the early KKK were simply out for innocent and harmless fun. The members would always enjoy the crazy antics that went on during the initiation. Their one requirement of new members of the KKK was complete and utter secrecy of the details of the initiation. They agreed that it wouldn’t be as fun if the initiate even knew an inkling of what would come during the initiation.

The reason the Klan grew so large and became so popular was because of the allure of a secret group that could change society. Also, another reason for its growth initially was the creation of its first rule. The first rule of the Klan was that no one should be convinced to join. They wanted new members, of course because without new members there would be no initiation. It was though that the mysterious reserved attitude of the Klan would attract many people, and sadly they were right.

        While the KKK grew in the south during the late 1860’s fear of them grew as well. The Klan was attracting attention and spreading though out the United States. Within the thinly spread out smaller groups of the KKK there was no particular allegiance to the Original Klan in Pulaski. Soon the large amount of smaller groups each had a representative from each smaller group to have a meeting in Nashville. In April of 1867, representatives to have a meeting and discuss their organization, and make a hierarchy.[2] They also discussed their limits, unity, and rules. Through this meeting a sort of constitution was drawn up and established. They also agreed that all laws under the constitution of the United States would be upheld. After this meeting was settled, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan was chosen.

        The appointed leader of the Klan would be called “The Grand Wizard.” This position was given to a general of the confederacy Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Klan was called referred to as an Empire. He had his Empire was divided into realms, domains, Provinces, and dens, headed by Grand Dragons, Titans, Giants, and Cyclopes. The actual members of the KKK were called Ghouls. There would be much more with the title of Grand Wizard, but none would be as important or as infamous as Nathan Bedford Forrest.

This attempt at organization was followed very strictly, but the actual members were still very wild in their actions. This meeting was meant to organize the KKK into a greater force, but instead of organization the group could only be described as discipline mixed with irresponsibility. Each den was governed by rigid rules, but was independent in its own affairs. They considered themselves a police organization, and never believed they were breakers of the law. The KKK considered itself the Police, Judge, and executioner. The Klan justified its actions by saying their purpose is an absolute need, and so no sense of guilt lingered.

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