The end of the Civil War marked the end of two centuries of slavery, but it did not give complete relief and equality to the freed African Americans. After the war, many newly established groups from the South, including the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), worked to ensure that whites stayed superior. The groups, which was first established in Pulaski, Tennessee in the late 1865-early 1866, used tactics such as intimidation and severe violence to ensure white supremacy throughout the Southern states. The first KKK was established by six former Confederate soldiers as a social club, which their attire consisted of a white robe with hoods that covered the face, much resembling a ghost-like creature. The original group was intended to just be for amusement in the community, but it soon evolved into an intimidation tactic to scare the African Americans of the Pulaski area, informing them that if they did not act and do as they should, they would have to move out of the area. Word of this newly developed group spread, and soon there were numerous Klu Klux Klan groups all throughout the South. KKK violence and envy grew after the Reconstruction of 1867. This Reconstruction gave more rights to the African Americans thus fueling the hatred and racism of the Whites. This led to the KKK doing more than just threatening the Blacks. The groups inflicted physical harm to them such as beating, whipping, and even hanging. To ensure that Blacks would not receive an education, the groups would also burn down school buildings and murder students and teachers. With there being many thoughts and opinions surrounding the true intentions of the Klu Klux Klan, what is the real reason it was established?
Supporters state that the group was not initially intended to cause harm to the African Americans, but it was just the former Confederate soldiers’ way to entertain themselves. D.L. Wilson and Jon Lester, both acquainted with the Klu Klux Klan, wrote in an 1884 article found in The Century magazine, There was entire unanimity among the members in regard to the end in view, which was diversion and amusement. Supporters, though, claimed that as the popularity of the group grew, it began serving as a regulator to make sure African Americans were behaving as expected. To add, supporters claimed that after Blacks gained rights following the Civil War, they began vandalizing White’s property and being involved in crimes, and the KKK helped to protect the Whites and their property from the rebellious acts of the Blacks. Supporters, to add, claimed that the Klan was aiming to save Southerners from scalawags and carpetbaggers that were trying to take advantage of Southerners and their land. Southerners would punish the carpetbaggers and scalawags and attempt to make them leave the South. In addition, KKK supporters also stated that the group was needed to protect the Whites from an arising, rebellious group of angry Blacks known as the Union League. The group would cause physical harm and neglects to Whites, much worse than the KKK ever would. Overall, supporters of the Klan claimed that the KKK was not there to cause harm but to protect the Whites from rebellious and violent acts of African Americans.
Like everything else ever argued, where there are supporters, there are critics. Critics believed that the KKK was established for a malicious intent. They claim that the African Americans were, in fact, following and abiding by the rules, but the KKK were just trying to be the police of this time and punished the Blacks as they saw fit. They also claimed that the group was merely a racist group of Whites that wanted the Blacks to act as if they never earned the rights given to them after the Reconstruction, thus returning to their slave ways. In addition, anti-KKK enthusiast argued that the group was not established spontaneously and just for entertainment, but it was well planned out to ensure that Whites stayed superior to the Blacks even after them gaining their right to be equal. If the group was merely intended to be amusement, why did leaders not step their foot forward and stop the neglect and violence the KKK inflicted on Blacks?
I personally agree with the case against. I believe that, yes, the group was established for racial purposes, and that the Whites would do whatever they could to keep a superior status over the Blacks, even if that meant causing harm to other human beings. I also believe that even though Blacks were seen as property for more that two centuries, they were still humans and deserved to have rights just as the Whites did, and they should not have to be afraid to exercise them due to the KKK’s threats.
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