Ku Klux Klan, Its Creation History and Activities Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was created in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee by 6 senior members of the military ground force of the Confederate States of America (Elaine, 2005). The main purpose of the group was to maintain white supremacy. In this regard, the Klan was designed to ensure that minority groups, mainly comprised of blacks, are not elevated beyond slave status. The Klan was also opposed to influx of foreigners in the United States.

KKK group existed in three phases. The first Klan was created in late 1860s in southern part of the US. The Klan was later disbanded in early 1870s (Elaine, 2005). The second Klan existed between 1915 and 1940. As Elaine (2005) notes, there were similarities between the first Klan and the second Klan. They both used guerrilla tactics and mainly targeted minority groups. The third Klan was formed after the Second World War. Its main aim was to counter civil rights activists who were campaigning for the rights of minority groups. This paper discusses the origin and activities of KKK group. The paper analyses some of the reasons that led to the creation of the group.

Creation of the Group

The first KKK group was created when southern states were recovering from the effects of American Civil War (Farmer, 2005). As Farmer (2005) points out, the group started as a disorganized entity without proper structure and coordination. Members of the Klan used uncoordinated violence to terrorise and intimidate minority groups in the south. Some historians claim that the first Ku Klux Klan was created by frustrated members of the society without any specific objective. However, analysis of the activities of the group reveals that it had a plan to supress civil rights activism and maintain status quo (Farmer, 2005).

Farmer (2005) observes that KKK group was created at a time when black Americans were gaining significant recognition as a result of the American Civil War. The War started in 1861 after some slave states in the south insisted on separating from the US to form the Confederate States of America (Rory, 2009). The War ended in 1965 after claiming lives of thousands of civilians and soldiers. After the war, the Republican government embarked on a crucial journey of reconstructing the country.

The government declared freedom for all slaves to facilitate national healing and rebuild unity. This angered white extremists who started forming anti-black movements (Rory, 2009). Apart from targeting blacks, KKK group worked with Democratic Party politicians to undermine the Republican government because of its alleged sympathy for blacks.

The original members of KKK group included frustrated farmers, hard-core criminals and Democratic Party politicians who had lost political relevance (Rory, 2009). Rory claims that employed people joined the Klan because they feared that Blacks would displace them in the competitive labour market (2009). Some historians have asserted that KKK was mainly a Democratic Party machine designed to destabilize the Republican government, intercept reconstruction program and return freed slaves to slavery (Rory, 2009).

In this regard, the group aimed at suppressing the rise of black people by denying them access to education and economic resources. Members of the Klan did not want Blacks to identify themselves as equal members of the society.

Activities of KKK Group

The first KKK group operated as an outlawed movement (Dray, 2002). Group members attacked their targets while wearing masks and robes. Most attacks were done at night to further protect identities of the attackers. The main target included black politicians and voters. They also targeted members of churches and rights movement groups who were perceived to be sympathizers of black people (Dray, 2002). KKK attacks intensified during the final days to the 1868 presidential election. This was aimed at blocking blacks and Republican Party supporters from participating in the election. Consequently, most Republican voters in the south were not able to vote (Dray, 2002).

The activities of the clan started declining in 1868. It was believed that the main supporters who included Democratic Party politicians feared that persistent attacks could attract more focus and interference from the Federal Government.


The activities of KKK group attracted resistance from blacks and black sympathizers (Chalmers, 2003). Anti-Ku Klux groups were formed in the south with the aim of launching reprisal attacks to dissuade Klan members from attacking and killing innocent people. Blacks formed armed groups that patrolled streets in several southern states to provide security to their families and friends. In addition, the Federal Government sent troops to the south to curb the KKK menace (Chalmers, 2003).

The Klan was declared a terrorist group in 1970. Arrest warrants were issued against Klan members who fled their areas of operation, leading to gradual disintegration of the group. As Chalmers (2003) claims, the activities of KKK group led to intensification of civil rights activism that eventually delivered the rights of minority groups. The second Klan formed in 1915 was similar to the first Klan in terms of manner of operation and target group. However, the 1915 group had more organized structure.


Chalmers, D. M. (2003). Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan helped the civil rights movement. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dray, P. (2002). At the hands of persons unknown: The lynching of black America. New York: Random House.

Elaine, F. P. (2005). Midnight rangers: Costume and performance in the reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan. Journal of American History. 92(3): 811–36.

Farmer, B. R. (2005). American conservatism: History, theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Rory, M. (2009). The rise of the Ku Klux Klan: right-wing movements and national politics organizations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

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