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The Southern States of America
Ku Klux Klan


The Ku Klux Klan was a secret order founded at Pulaski, Tenn., in 1866, and was the outgrowth of a local secret society originally formed for purposes of amusement only. The effect of its grotesque and mysterious ceremonies upon the superstitious and ignorant negroes was soon detected and the order spread over the entire South, the membership being placed at over 500,000. Its officers were as follows: A Grand Cyclops or president; a Grand Magus or Vice-president; a Grand Turk or marshal; a Grand Exchequer or treasurer, and two lictors. There were the outer and inner guards of the "Den," as the place of meeting was designated. Each member was required to provide himself with the following outfit: A white mask for the face, with orifices for the eyes and nose; a tall, fantastic cardboard hat, so constructed as to increase the wearer's apparent height; a gown or robe of sufficient length to cover the entire person. Each member also carried a small whistle, with which, by means of a code of signals agreed on, they held communication with one another. In April, 1867, the Grand Cyclops of the Pulaski den called for a convention of delegates from the dens, which met at Nashville, Tenn., in the early summer of 1867. Under the plan of reorganization adopted by the convention the grand officers were: The Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire and his ten Genii; the Grand Dragon of the Realm and his eight Hydras; the Grand Titian of the Dominion and his six Furies; the Grand Cyclops of the den and his two Nighthawks; a Grand Monk; a Grand Exchequer; a Grand Lictor; a Grand Scribe; a Grand Turk; a Grand Sentinel. The Genii, Hydras, Furies, Goblins and Nighthawks were staff officers.

This Nashville convention made a positive and emphatic declaration of the principles of the order in the following terms: "We recognize our relations to the United States government; the supremacy of the constitution; the constitutional laws thereof, and the union of the states thereunder."

The convention also defined and set forth the peculiar objects of the order as follows: (1) To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent and the brutal; to relieve the injured and the oppressed; to succor the suffering, and especially the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers. (2) To protect and defend the constitution of the United States and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the states and people from all invasions from any source whatever. (3) To aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws, and to protect the people from unlawful seizure, and from trial except by their peers in conformity to the laws of the land.

The Klan exerted a vast, terrifying and wholesome power, but its influence was never at any time dependent on or proportioned to its membership. The organization was disbanded in March, 1869.


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