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The Ku Klux Klan

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Ku Klux Klan cross burning ceremony, June 18, 1940.

At the end of the American Civil War, Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan to resist Reconstruction. The group incited riots and assaulted and murdered blacks and Republicans (the party of Lincoln, and of emancipation) to intimidate voters and influence elections.

"The Invisible Empire of the South" waned with the end of Reconstruction but was newly incarnated in the 20th century reaching an estimated peak membership of millions in the 1920s. The Klan's activities increased again in the 1950s and 1960s in opposition to the civil rights movement. In line with their founding ambitions, the Ku Klux Klan attacked and killed both blacks and whites who were seeking to enfranchise the African American population. A related movement, white Citizens' Councils, known as the "uptown Klan," espoused similarly racist views but claimed they did not sanction violence.

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