Throughout its 150-year history, the KKK has managed to remain a violent, homegrown terrorist group whole sole purpose was terrorization of classes of people that scared them: African-Americans, Catholics, Jews and all immigrants. They attempted to justify murder, kidnapping, and intimidation by claiming white supremacy.
Their entire purpose was to propagate violence and intimidation among minorities, catholics and jews, and had no problem with expressing their ideas publicly.
There were three different periods of time in which the Klan was at large; they died out and then restarted themselves many times. The first Klan was started by a man named Nathan Bedford Forrest and a group of Confederate soldier veterans (Ingalls 389). They were based in Pulaski, Tennessee and formed the KKK in 1865. In its early stages the Ku Klux Klan was very secretive. Because it was so secretive, it was very disorganized. It had no ranks or means of secret communication.
Until it gained more power and was more recognizable, no one knew who was behind the Klan’s attacks. The attacks were mostly directed towards disarming freed slaves who received firearms due to the Civil War. In one Florida county Klansmen killed over 150 blacks. The first Klan fell when Congress passed the Force Bill, or “Bloody Bill”, in 1871, which allowed the President to use the federal militia against the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK disappeared soon afterwards (Ingalls 389, 390).
The second Klan was founded by William J. Simmons in Atlanta, 1915 (Ingalls 389, 890). Simmons had served in the Spanish-American War and started the Klan with a group of men, all either from the former Klan or were young white supremacists. By the mid-1920s the Ku Klux Klan had reached six million members and had members as far north as Canada . In some areas 40% of white males were involved in the Klan. For a while the Klan was lead by David Ernest Duke, a state representative of Louisiana.
Klansmen hung a Jewish man from a tree because he was accused of the rape-murder of a young girl. Many lawsuits were filed against the Klan because of this . The Klan began to fall in the 1930s because of bankruptcy and a scandal involving the Grand Dragon of Indiana, D.C. Stephenson. Stephenson raped a young girl on a train. The girl did not die but suffered severe bite wounds all over her body. One spectator said that it looked like she “…Had been attacked by a group of vicious dogs.” By 1944 the Klan had died out completely (Ingalls 390).
The third Klan was restarted in Atlanta, in 1946. This time it was founded by Samuel Green. After Green died in 1949 the Klan split into independent groups. In the 1960s violence from the Ku Klux Klan increased due to the civil rights movement. In 1965 the FBI designed project COINTELPRO to take down the Klan. Klansmen became frightened and the Klan lost membership. Klansmen hung Michael Donald, a black man, due to accusations of sexual assault. Again, the Klan was slammed with lawsuits. The Klan lost even more membership.
The Klan is still active today at about three thousand Klansmen .Most Klans are now in the South. Some notable Klan groups are the Bayou Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Church of American Knights of the KKK, the Imperial Klans of America, Knights of White Kamelia, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Although the Klan still has remained a white supremacist group despite the fact that they died out many times, they hardly ever practice their beliefs and have midnight conventions as it would be extremely illegal. Today the Klan is regarded with fear, and for good reason. They killed thousands of innocent people.
Key points to remember about the Ku Klux Klan are that there was three times the Klan was active and they were a very violent organization. The Force Bill had a huge impact on the KKK and if it was not for that bill then the Klan would still be very large and dangerous, and the Klan was mostly based in the South.