Prominent Members of the Ku Klux Klan
Born at the end of the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan emerged because of the defeat and humiliation of the southern states. However, the group’s history began with a bad joke by former Southern officers. On Christmas Eve of 1865, in Tennessee, the veterans founded an association of brothers in arms whose name contains the Greek word “kuklos” or circle, which is associated with the Latin word “lux” or light.
During these rides which usually happen at night, these men decked out in white sheets and pointy hoods through the town of Pulaski. Fundamentally racist, these ghostly riders wanted to scare the black people, who were blamed for the defeat as well as the economic crisis that was being experienced in the country.
Soon, these ghastly cavalcades were imitated and done in many cities in Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi. The clansmen multiplied these expeditions which are aimed to make punishments, committing lootings and executing private vendettas in the name of their collective belief on the superiority of the white race.
In the recent years following this, the members of the Ku Klux Klan amounted to around 500,000 members. Faced with large waves of immigrants and expatriates arriving from Europe in the twentieth century, the KKK members then started attacking Catholics, Jews, homosexuals, alcoholics and “immoral women”. In fact, the Ku Klux Klan was attacking those people who did not share their ideas, their religion and did not have the same skin color as them.
By the year 1866, the population could witness nighttime parades by the KKK members on horseback. The men were dressed in white, wearing long robes and hoods to hide their faces. Carrying a huge crucifix, the members of the KKK would chase black people with a desire to harm them. They did not hesitate to torture their victims before killing them. The methods they employed to carry out these horrendous crimes included flogging, emasculation, disembowelment of pregnant women and hanging. They would also light bonfires and burn their victims alive. These torturers were venerable and admired notables. They were among the elite of the Southern cities. But at night, they would turn into wild and cruel beasts.
In 1871, 297 blacks were lynched in New Orleans and 200 in Mississippi. In total, between the years 1866 and 1914, 4,600 people, mostly blacks, became the victims of these gruesome nocturnal expeditions. By the year 1871, the Senate has outlawed the Ku Klux Klan. This is the first page of the Ku Klux Klan which had been turned.
An interesting person in the KKK’s history is Nathan Bedford Forrest, a famous Confederate commander during the Civil War. Bedford was very caring towards the slaves under his charge and did his best to make sure that his slaves were together with their families. In the year 1859, he accumulated roughly $1,000,000 from his business located in Memphis so he withdrew from his work and purchased a new plantation in Cohoma County, Missouri. By 1861, he was able to make another $30,000. In 1861, the state of Tennessee separated from the Union. Forrest became a private for the militia. Residents from Memphis convinced General Leonidas Polk and Governor Ishom Harris that Forrest was fitting for a much higher position.
Forrest fought in many battles and had never faced defeat. He is also known to have reached the status of a Grand Wizard of the KKK. He gave no support to the lynching done by the members of the KKK. He held the belief that the Klan was a decent and upright group. Forrest was concerned when the Klan’s activities transformed from its original purpose as a caring and venerable group. Because of these reasons, he called for the disbandment of the Ku Klux Klan.
In the year 1915, benefiting from the fame of the film “The Birth of a Nation”, which celebrated and upheld the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, the organization adopted a newer and more unifying program. Reverend William Joseph Simmons, a former Methodist preacher, inaugurated the rebirth of the Klan in 1915. He had found inspiration in the original Klan’s Prescripts which was written in 1867 by George Gordon, Confederate veteran, in an effort to construct a national organization.
The line of attack was changed. The group then claimed to defend the true values of America, which for them were Puritan and patriot. They opposed the massive waves of new immigrants coming into the country, especially the Italians, the Russians and the Jews. In the First World War, the KKK stirred up hatred against Catholics, pacifists or the Bolsheviks. In the 1920s, the organization became a real and tremendous political power in the country, with over 5 million members. The terrible crimes and abuses were no longer limited to the South, but they also extended to the entire American continent.
The Ku Klux Klan has essentially become a huge financial machine that enriched its leaders. The implementation policy was applied. 11 governors and many senators were initiated into the group. The KKK even moved to Washington and made a show of their force and power by marching 30,000 riders in the city.
The sect combined chivalrous initiations, religion and esoteric junk. The executive officer of the Order was equivalent to an “Imperial Wizard” or “Emperor”. It was supported by the “Imperial Council” and a legislative body, the Imperial Klonvocation, which was composed by members who were called “Kloppers.” Each state is headed by a “Grand Dragon.” Each district is headed by a “Grand Titan.” Each province is headed by a “Grand Giant.” In this hierarchy, there were also the ranks of “Cyclops”, “Fury” and “Ghoul.”
They used a language known only to klan members. The days and months were renamed “mortal,” “dark,” “terrible,” “bloody, “frightening,” etc. The clansmen gathered in their lairs or “Klaverns” where they formulated their bloody activities. They dressed themselves in white uniforms featuring an insignia, a red cross of St. Andrew which was placed on the chest. New members were 100% American, born in the United States, were whites and Protestants. At a ceremony night, the “Grand Cyclops” would consecrate these initiates with some water poured on their foreheads while pronouncing the formula “In mind, in body, in spirit and in life.”
Several U.S. presidents have also been members of the KKK.
President Warren G. Harding was sworn into the Ku Klux Klan in a ceremony that was conducted by Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons inside the White House.
President McKinley and President Woodrow Wilson were members of the KKK. However, there is so little information about their membership to the Ku Klux Klan. At least one book documents that they were members, but the passage only mentions that they were members. There was no further elaboration on this fact. McKinley was a Union officer, but a lot of Union men joined or became affiliated with the First Era Ku Klux Klan in the course of the Radical Republican’s anti-white Reconstruction Era. Union General Hardee was another prominent Union man who joined the Ku Klux Klan later. Under the Command of Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons, President Woodrow Wilson would have been a member of the KKK.
President Calvin Coolidge was a renowned Klansman and was recognized to be an active adherent of the Klan. He permitted cross lightings on the Capitol steps and reviewed the huge parades of the Klan in Washington D.C in the years 1925 and 1926.
From 1920 – 1922, U.S. President Harry S Truman was a minor regular Klansman. His two-year membership to the KKK was not noteworthy and rather lacking. Eventually, he had a big falling out with the Klan over his wish to assign Roman Catholics to main political positions in the KKK. At the time, all of the KKK was opposed to that idea. Now, some Klans not only admit Roman Catholics but also vigorously recruit them to the sect. However, the true KKK is duly and traditionally in opposition to Roman Catholicism and the influence of Papists over America. President Harry S Truman was trying to gain approval from Roman Catholic voters and was more concerned with his career in politics than the KKK or the good of America. He cut off all ties with the Klan and renounced them openly. His family has attempted to rebuff his KKK involvement ever since, but they have failed miserably for it is an established fact in history and was supported by many documents.
Hugo Black, a Supreme Court Justice, was also a KKK member. In the 1960′s His Klan Robes complete with his name in them were discovered in an old Klan Klavern Hall. Unfortunately, under strong political pressure, he repudiated the Klan superficially during its infamous period of scandals.
Gutzon Borglum is also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was the artist who carved Mt. Rushmore and Stone Mountain. He also did work on the base of the Statue of Liberty. He was a well-known Life Member of the KKK. In the year 1923, he sat on the Imperial Koncilium, which shifted leadership of the KKK from Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons to Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans. While under deep pressure and intense scrutiny, both media and public pressure worked their wicked results and he superficially denied the Ku Klux Klan.
The history of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) is full of prominent figures that shaped the face of white supremacy in the history for the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). Discover prominent figures and how they shaped the KKK of today. This section of our site is dedicated to documenting historical biographical accounts of prominent figures as they relate to the history of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). Please navigate the article directory below to get a detailed account of the historical figures that made their mark with their involvement with the history of white supremacy and the Klu Klux Klan (KKK)
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Nathan Bedford Forrest
Read the biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest rumored to be the original Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
The Black Panthers are often known as the rival of the KKK. Find out more about this rivalry here
Chris Hopgood is also known as the British Leader of the KKK. Find out more about him here
KKK and Obama
President Barack Obama made history by being voted in as the first African American president in U.S. History. Find out more about his election and how it related to the KKK here.
Beyond the KKK
Have you ever wondered what groups exist beyond the KKK? Find out what other white supremacist groups exist here.
Have you ever wondered what groups exist beyond the KKK? Find out who they are and what they go through here.
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