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First KKK Formed for Democratic Power-Grab
The first Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was started as a political power play in the post Civil War south. The 14th Amendment of 1868 made it possible for blacks to be elected to office. Many were elected but only by the Republican party.
The slave owners who had been ready to form their own separate country based on race are also now faced with the fact that their own elected representative to Congress is black! These newly elected Congressmen joined with white Republicans to pass 23 civil rights laws which ended segregation, and distinctions by color were no longer legal in
- property ownership,
- the courts,
- military service, etc.
The last civil rights law they passed was in 1875. No other civil rights law was passed again until 1964—eight-nine years later. Why? In 1876, Democrats regained partial control of Congress.
Blacks in Congress and the KKK
Civil rights legislation haulted
The civil rights laws after the Civil War were all passed when Republicans had control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. Republicans were able to whiz these laws right through. All this was brought to a stop, however, when one House was lost to the Democrats.
The next period of time was one of halted progress in civil rights legislation and the south coming to the end of reconstruction recovery from the war. The south then begins to get really violent. The Democrats in these states sought to restore white supremacy by keeping Republicans out of office. They turned to terrorizing and whacking Republicans .
KKK threatening to lynch carpetbaggers
KKK killed white Republicans for supporting blacks
KKK started to gain political power
A group was formed in 1866 for this purpose—the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It was started by Democrats to whack Republicans and allow them to regain control. So why were they whacking blacks? If you were black in America back then, you were Republican.
The KKK terrorized blacks with murder and public floggings. Relief from this terror was given only to those who promised not to vote for Republican candidates. Violations were punishable by death. This terror was not limited to just blacks, but whites would hang white Republicans, too.
Democrats would call Republicans “radicals” because they were a biracial party that allowed blacks to vote and participate in the political process. In the South Carolina of 1868, the Republicans in the state legislature were made up of 50 blacks and 13 whites. Out of the 4800 that were lynched during this period, 1300 were white—lynched because they were Republicans who supported civil rights.
Theatrical release poster for The Birth of a Nation
The KKK were Democrats
The KKK became a wing of the Democrat party. In one of the first motion picture films ever done, in the early 1900s, Birth of a Nation—one of the great KKK recruiting films—it shows the KKK saving the south from all the blacks.
It was the first film ever shown in the White House, by President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. When he became president, he removed all blacks who held federal office. The Republican president who preceded him, Teddy Roosevelt, stirred others to all sorts of fury when he invited Booker T. Washington as an official White House advisor. This was one of a number of black appointees that Wilson removed when he became president.
The KKK was an active part of American politics for much too long.
Johnson paved the way for the Klu Klux Klan
Examines how the Ku Klux Klan was formed and grew out of the ashes of the Civil War.
© 2011 Deidre Shelden