The Rise of the Klan - Essay Sample

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George Washington University
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The Klan was founded in the year 1866 in Tennessee, as convened by a group of confederate veterans (Alexander, Charles). The name Ku Klux Klan was derived from the Greek word Kyklos meaning circle. For the sake of alliteration, they added the Scottish-Gaelic word clan. The Klan grew rapidly from a localized membership to a paramilitary force working on reversing the federal governments progress in the south, especially the policies that were to elevate the rights of Local African American population (Newton).

The Klans following tended to fall and rise in cycles referred to as waves. According to Keller and William he original Klans incarnation in the early1870s was largely halted following Federal legislation targeting the perpetrated violence by the Klan. The largest wave peaked in the 1920s when the membership rose and exceeded 4 million people nationwide. This was after the white nativists organized a revival of the Klan near Atlanta, Georgia in the year 1915. The second generation of the Klan was not only anti-black but it also opposed the Roman Catholics, Jews, immigrants as well as organized labor (Alexander, Charles).The Klan was fueled by growing hostility to the surge in immigration that America experienced in the early 20th Century. The organization took its symbol to be a burning cross. The Klansmen held marches and parades around the country (Newton).

Following the Great Depression in 1930, Klan membership ranks were depleted and the organization temporarily disbanded in the year 1944(Keller, William). In the 1960s a surge of local Klan activity was felt across the South as there were heightened bombing, beatings, and shootings of black and white activists. These actions were carried out in secrecy but apparently the work of Klansmen outraged the nation and aided in winning the civil rights course. Newton posed that the Klans violence was condemned publicly by President Lyndon Johnson as he delivered a speech, convening the arrest of four Klansmen in connection to the murder of a white civil activist rights worker in Alabama.

The Klan became socially acceptable and saw a rise in membership in 1920 due to the following reasons as described by Keller and William. The Klans strength had grown and spread from the Southern states far wide to other states in the country. Secondly, the Klan exerted considerable political influence as it helped elect sympathetic candidates to state and national offices. Christian fundamentalist ministers aided in recruitment as they argued that the Klan protected traditional values. Consequently, the novel Clansman by Thomas Dixon (1905) sparked the revival of the Klan. Ethnic character of the American Society had changed due to large scale immigration.

The Klans effect is still felt up to date in the counties that the Klan was present during the civil rights era. To start with, this counties exhibit higher rates of violent crimes. The Klans impact operates broadly through the corrosive effect that organized vigilantism imposes on the overall community (Newton). Heightened vigilantism flaunts law and order fracturing the bonds that exist normally to maintain respect and order among community members. To note also is the shift in regional voting patterns since the year 1950(Alexander, Charles). Where counties where the Klan was present pronounces to move towards the Republican Party as support for Republican candidates has also grown in this counties.

In conclusion, the Klans membership had reduced to around 4000 people by the early1990s. Cases of violence became isolated. However, the Klans impact is still felt in counties that the Klan was present in especially the Southern counties (Alexander, Charles).

Work Cited

Alexander, Charles C. The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest. University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Keller, William W. The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover: Rise and Fall of a Domestic Intelligence State. Princeton University Press, 2014.

Newton, Michael. White Robes and Burning Crosses: A History of the Ku Klux Klan from 1866. McFarland, 2014.

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