Ku Klux Klan

Term assumed at two distinct periods in the history of the United States by secret organizations.

(1) Order of the Ku Klux Klan (1866-1869), a secret organization of men founded at Pulaski, Tennessee, by former Confederate soldiers primarily for purposes of amusement. The social disorders of the Reconstruction period, and the attempts made to Africanize the South led the members to the more serious task of "regulating" human conduct. The Klan claimed to be "an institution of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy, and Patriotism," with a threefold purpose: to protect the weak, defend the Constitution, and to assist in the execution of Constitutional laws. It grew so lawless and violent that President Grant had to employ federal troops to suppress it in the fourteen southern states which it had embraced. The Klan continued to exist in a semi-organized fashion throughout the Union after 1870, gradually acquiring a name for lawlessness.

(2) Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret fraternal organization, falsely claiming to be the Klan of 1866, which was "reborn" at Atlanta, Georgiaa, 1915, as a national politico-religious body professing to uphold the Constitution by extra-legal means, as well as to promote 100 per cent Americanism. It sought to accomplish this purpose by an opposition to Catholics, Jews, Negroes, and the foreign-born. A lawless, reforming organization, it instituted a campaign of terrorization which gradually brought it into disfavor among right-thinking Americans. This, together with scandals within the Klan, caused a decline in its power after 1926. An attempt at reorganization was made, 1928, when its members assumed the title "Knights of the Green Forest."

New Catholic Dictionary

NCD Index SQPN Contact Author