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White Supremacy in America In the years followi

In the years following the defeat of the Confederacy by the Union, resistance to Reconstruction and changes in the status of former African slaves was to emerge throughout the American South. Historian William Miller (1977) has pointed out that the "original" Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations such as the Knights of the White Camellia were formed in part by Southern leaders in the 1860s to destroy the voting power of newly freed slaves and to do damage to carpetbag misrule. Geoffrey Perrett (1989) has commented that during Reconstruction, when the original Klan was formed, the occupation armies of the Union were hard-pressed to prevent their terrorist activities - activities that virtually nullified the rights granted and guaranteed to former slaves under the Fourteenth Amendment. There was, says Perrett (1989, p. 261), little the army "could do in owns where more than a thousand people, including children, might gather to watch a black man tortured to death but not one of them would talk."

The Klan in its early manifestation was willing to engage in violence to achieve its goals and objectives. After 1869 many of these organizations engaged in such random pillage and terror that respectable elements in the South abandoned them in horror. Miller (1977) believes that the prompt response of the Federal government via the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1870 was highly instrumental in weakening the original Klan, and that the 1872 Amnesty Act restoring citizenship to former Confederate leaders also helped to reduce its power in the region. It would become less and less significant an influence in the region until the 1920s, when new domestic tensions and problems led to its resurgence.

The activities of the Klan included night ridings, cross burnings, tar and featherings, public beatings, and lynchings (Martin & Roberts, 1989). The objects of its attacks were not limited to ethnic and religious "offenders." In add...

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