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Ku Klux Klan

July 10, 1946

Report Outline
Revival of the Ku Klux Klan Movement
Ku Klux Klan of Reconstruction Days
Rise of Second Klan After World War I
Klan Activities Since End of World War Ii

Revival of the Ku Klux Klan Movement

The hooded order of the Ku Klux Klan, which originated in the South after the Civil War and reappeared to attain nation-wide prominence after World War I, is making its third appearance in the wake of World War II. Klan activity in the current postwar period has been limited so far to Georgia and a scattering of other states. The movement nevertheless contains disquieting potentialities as a rallying ground for individuals and other organizations animated by prejudices against various minority groups. It is in recognition of this danger that the State of Georgia, under the leadership of Gov. Arnall, has initiated legal action against the Klan in the hope of preventing it from gaining a strong enough foothold to repeat the performance of a generation ago. However, current indications of a rise of hate-mongering in this country suggest that the pending charter-revocation proceedings may not be sufficient to halt renewed growth of the movement.

Factors Contributing to Rebirth of the Klan

Revival of the Klan has been attributed in the main to fear of invasion by a rising number of Negro voters of the South's white primaries, which were voided by a Supreme Court decision in 1944. To a lesser extent, renewed support of the Klan movement is believed to represent reaction against increased trade-union activity in the southern states. Others suggest that rebirth of the Klan, in Georgia and several other states, is merely a transitory development resulting from the confused social, economic, and political conditions of the postwar period. After the Civil War and after World War I, the Klan became dormant when postwar tensions lessened, though not until its excesses had brought it into widespread disrepute.

The original post-Civil War Klan was essentially an organization through which disfranchised southern whites sought to defend their interests against the machinations of carpetbag politicians and to establish control over unruly freed Negroes. The post-World War I Klan attained nationwide membership by exploiting prejudices against aliens and a variety of minority groups. In its anti-foreign and anti-Catholic bias, it was an expression of the social traditions and habits of thought covered by the term Native Americanism, which had flowered briefly but spectacularly in the Know-Nothing party of the 1850's and the American Protective Association of the 1890's.

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