After the Civil War was over it was nearly impossible for many of the Southerners to go back to their lives. They no longer had slaves, their family and friends were killed, and their homes and land were destroyed. The state government no longer existed and northern soldiers were now in charge. The whites’ right to vote was gone, and it instead was given to the uneducated former slaves. Six white men met on Christmas Eve, 1865, in Pulaski, near the Alabama border of Tennessee to form a club which would help support the former Confederate soldiers after the restless days of the Civil War and to have fun. They made white ghost like costumes that covered everything but their eyes, nose, mouth and hands. They began referring to their secret organization as the ‘jolly six’ or the ‘thespians’. They rode around the town dressed up as ghost of Confederate soldiers in order to scare the ex-slaves. The club name however, was changed to Ku Klux Klan after the Greek word ‘kuklos’, which means circle and the word ‘clan’, which means family. Although the Klan was originally just a group of men trying to have fun, it became much more than simply just a fringe movement; it became a central part of American society.
The Klan started off as a fun way for men to forget about how hard life was. After the KKK was created, the members developed titles for the various officers, choosing the most preposterous (change word maybe?) names possible. The outrageous names were chosen for the fun of it, but also to keep the organization separate from the government and the military. Initiation ceremonies for new members were also developed. The ceremonies were similar to hazing done in colleges and clubs. The new members were blindfolded and forced to perform silly (word choice?) acts and recite ridiculous oaths. They were then brought to the ‘royal altar’, which was actually a mirror, and where the ‘royal crown’, which was actually two donkey ears, was placed on their heads.
Even though, the Klan was started by six men in Tennessee its popularity quickly spread, as more and more people learned the power that they had. They were able to use fear to get the newly freed blacks and their supporters to act as they wanted. Places where the economic distinction between the blacks and the whites was less pronounced accepted the Klan almost immediately, fearing that the blacks might easily equate themselves with the whites. The KKK was most active in the nine states from Tennessee and the Carolinas to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. Although the Klan was not common in large cities, the tidewater and costal areas, or the delta and black-belt areas, it was active in all states to some degree.
As the membership of the Ku Klux Klan began to soar the ideas and the goals of the Klan changed. The KKK originally was only against blacks and black defenders. But they later become defenders of...