KKK and African American Civil Rights (19th Century)

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 01-06-17 20:29
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  • Role of Ku Kux Klan in African American civil rights in 19th Century
    • Anti-groups
      • Sudden change in status of AAs in 1865, together with bitterness of Civil War bound to bring opposition from white South
      • Southerners - secret organisations in face of Congressional Reconstruction and Military Rule
      • Resumption of guerrilla warfare from war
    • Formationn of KKK
      • Tennessee
      • December 1865
      • Coordination attempted in 1867 meeting in Nashville
      • Ideology one of white supremacy
      • Political aim to undermine Republican domination of South
      • Localised groups of people with variety of grievances
        • Pursued personal grudges and indulging in racist violence and intimidation
    • Methods of KKK members
      • Used intimidating methods
        • White hoods
        • Flaming crosses
        • Secret oaths
      • Physically attacked, beat, lynched and murdered AAs
        • Destroyed property and on occasion setting off bombs
      • Powerful sexual elements of white women in danger
        • recur in next century
      • Freedmen's Bureau members targeted in 1860s and again in 1950s and 1960s
        • civil workers were killed
      • Efforts made to stop AA voters from registering and voting
        • Later instituionalised by Jim Crow laws
      • Attacked AAs to stop them attending desegregated schools
        • Something again repaired in struggle for desegregation in 1950s
      • 2000 deaths and injuries in Louisiana alone in run up to 1868 Presidential Election
    • Decline of Klan in 1860s and 1870s
      • President Grant elected 1868
        • prepared to suspend habeas corpus and use federal troops to suppress violence
          • e.g. in South Carolina in 1871
      • Klan's methods led to Republicans and AAs uniting against it
        • Had opposite effect on supporters
      • Effective indictments by federal courts began to have effect by early 1870s and national organisation not strong enough to resist federal powers
      • State legislation turned against it
      • Klan withered away but individual acts of terrorism continued.
    • Attitude and actions of state governments
      • From 1877, opposition to civil rights did not centre on illegal terrorism but came from activities of legally constituted state governments, the indifference of Congress and administrations and judgments of Supreme Court
      • New direction of court was seen in judgement in 1882, which declared legislation against Klan unconstitutional
      • Situation in South descended to official restrictions on AA political rights with Jim Crow Laws and ridiculous voting qualifications while traditions of Klan period were maintained in growth of lynchings which local and state authorities did not do much to control
      • Federal government looked on and did little
      • Situation reverted to pre-Civil War period where South were allowed to regulate its own affairs with regard to race
      • In place of slavery there was segregation, sharecropping and inequality before law in social and economic matters and application of random and terrifying localised violence
      • KKK became inactive as no real necessity for it to exist


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