1865 December 24

KKK Founded in Pulaski, Tennessee


The Ku Klux Klan had several different chapters throughout its long and ugly history, and there were often competing Klan organizations. Common among all of its manifestations was a philosophy of white racial superiority. The Klan also has waged attacks against Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. The first Ku Klux Klan was founded on this day as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, by six veterans of the Confederate Army; chapters quickly grew throughout the South.

The Klan revived in the early twentieth century, and in the 1920s became a powerful political force nationally, with special strength in Midwestern and West Coast states. It successfully secured an anti-Catholic education law in Oregon (November 7, 1922 that would have shut down all parochial schools. The Supreme Court, however, declared the law unconstitutional on June 1, 1923.

A debate over whether to condemn the Klan by name deeply divided the 1924 Democratic Party Convention (see July 6, 1924). The Klan staged a huge march in Washington, D.C. on August 8, 1925, and in the 1928 presidential election was a leading force in attacking Democratic Party candidate Al Smith because he was a Catholic (see April 18, 1927 and September 18, 1928).

Read about the history of the Klan: David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, 3rd Ed. (1987)

See documents on the KKK in the 1920s (photos; 78 rpm records, etc.):

Watch film of the Klan march on Washington: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv4xHcK63cQ

Learn more about the history of the Klan: Wyn Ward, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America (1987)

Learn more about the Klan today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan

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