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Actually, the Ku Klux Klan was NOT originally formed for the purpose of intimidating freed slaves or sympathetic whites. It began as a fraternal organization in Pulaski Tennessee and was in fact comprised of Confederate veterans and others. It took its name from the Greek phrase, "Ku Klose" which they interpreted (somewhat liberally) to mean "circle of brothers." The original name was Kuklos Adelphon of the Southern States, and had formed before the war; but dissolved shortly after the war began. TheKu Klux Klan was intended to be a revival of the old order; and its purpose was to provide a source of amusement and fellowship for its members. A large number of its members were important people in the community (judges, attorneys, even ministers) who would discuss political and social matters. Regrettably, its activities soon devolved into intimidation, primarily to keep Blacks from voting and scare away presumed carpetbaggers. The Klan largely disappeared after Reconstruction, but reappeared and was renewed on Thanksgiving evening, 1915 in Atlanta Georgia. The new Klan dedicated itself to "100 per cent Americanism," and encapsulated the nativist sentiments that were pervasive during the time. The new (or renewed) Klan was organized by William J. Simmons who stated that
Bathed in the sacred glow of the fiery cross, the invisible empire was called from its slumber of a half a century to take up a new task.
Whereas the old Klan had largely targeted Blacks and carpetbaggers, the new Klan opposed Jews, Roman Catholics, and anyone who was not a native born white American. In proclaiming its message, its founder, Simmons stated:
America is no melting pot, it is a garbage can
There was no one individual who founded the Ku Klux Klan. However, the name that is most closely connected with its founding is Nathan Bedford Forrest. Historians do not credit him with founding the organization, but they do say that he was the first major leader of the Klan.
The Klan was started by a group of veterans of the Confederate Army. Their purpose was to create a group that could be used to intimidate freed slaves and whites who were sympathetic to the Reconstruction governments in the South. By intimidating these people, the KKK hoped to hasten the "redemption" of the South from the Reconstruction governments.
In opposition to federal agencies such as the Freedman's Bureau, the Ku Klux Klan was born of ex-Confederate soldiers in Pulaski, Tennessee 1866. Interestingly, its first leader referred to as the Grand Wizard was the ex-Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. By the following year local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan began springing up throughout the south. By the 1870's the Klan organization was fracturing. They did have a resurrgence in 1915 with William Simmons emerging as the new leader. In 1922, under Hiram Evans, the first Imperial Wizard Klan there were over 4 million members to the organization. Since the 1920's Klan membership has greatly declined but there are a couple of thousand members in the United States still today.
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