The History of the Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is one of America\'s oldest and most feared groups.
Driven by the dream of a world with only one master race, the KKK often uses
violence and moves above the law to promote their cause. They didn\'t start of
violent, or to promote white supremacy. They have been in the shadows for over
130 years and continue to thrive in America\'s society today.

The Ku Klux Klan began almost accidentally during the reconstruction period
after the civil war in the Southern United States. The southern people had
suffered greatly from the effects of the great war. Many of them lost their
homes and plantations. Many also lost friends and loved ones to the war. The
people needed a release from the sorrow of everyday life.

In 1865, six men from a small town in Tennessee accidentally began what has
grown to be the largest and most feared "hate group" in the country. The men
decided to make a club to help release the stress of the times. The men were
all poor and could not afford to make gowns or great costumes for the group, so
they decided to use linens. They wore the linens over their backs and put
pillowcases on their heads. They also draped the linens over their horses. The
Ku Klux Klan was going to ride for the first time. In the beginning, the men
wanted to do nothing more than play pranks on people. However, the people were
more frightened than they were cheered up. They soon realized what they could
do with these fear tactics. The South had turned into a place that was no
longer theirs. The slaves were now free (many of these men were slave owners)
and carpetbaggers were coming from the North to take advantage of the southern
people. They saw the opportunity to set back the South to what it had been.
The KKK soon began to ride through political rallies of the carpetbaggers.
People often fled the rallies out of fear. Word quickly spread across the South
about these masked men. Many people loved the idea and wanted to be involved.
The Klan quickly grew. A leader was soon needed to control the large group.
Their first choice was Southern General Robert E. Lee. Although he supported
the group and its cause, he was very ill and could not handle the task. Their
next choice was a man named Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Forrest, although he wasn\'t as well known as General Lee, he was a great
leader. He was born in Mississippi and owned a plantation. He fought for the
confederate army for a long time before they recognized his abilities. Although
he didn\'t arrive early enough to greatly impact the war, he gained the respect
of the top confederate leaders. After the war he was infuriated by the
carpetbaggers and needed a way to fight back. He saw the Ku Klux Klan as a way
to do it.

He was quickly accepted as the "Grand Wizard". He had absolute power over the
Klan members. The men were eager to do what he said, they trusted him. Many of
the men were in need of a sense of belonging. The KKK gave them this. The Klan
was very secretive, all of the members were safe from people knowing their real
identities (if that was their wish). Because of this secrecy, they gained the
alternate name of "The Invisible Empire".

The Klan really began to take control in the year of 1868. They vowed to rid
the south of carpetbaggers, blacks and any person who supported them. They
stole the oppositions goods, beat them and even killed them. These murders were
known as "lynching". They would drag the person to the center of the town and
hang them in front of everyone. This method was very effective, people feared
it would happen to themselves if they had anything to do with the carpetbaggers
or blacks.

After the U.S. government removed troops from the South in the late 1800\'s, the
Klan achieved its goal. Many of the groups disbanded and Forrest left. After
the turn of the century, it started again. This time the goal was much larger,
freeing America of all non white, Christian Americans. This is the Ku Klux Klan
we know today. The new breed of Klan differed from the old version in many
ways. The old Klan wanted to set things back to the old ways. They wanted their
freedom back and wanted nothing more. Being prejudice was only an effect. In
the eyes