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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan
by Annie Cooper [1916]

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A daughter of the South explains the virtues of the Klan. For most of us, nearly 100 years later, this whitewashed version is gob-smacking reading. 

I hope that African Americans do not take offence at the descriptions, but I think it is vital for an understanding of American history that we get an insight into the mechanism of power by the KKK and the attitudes of the times at various points in history.

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"Their purpose was to scare into submission the unruly free negroes and the trouble-making carpetbaggers; and this purpose they accomplished, without one drop of blood being shed, except in the most extreme cases. Whenever an undesirable citizen was not wanted, he generally found a note tacked to his door saying that if he did not move on within twenty-four hours he would be visited by the Ku Klux Klan. Signed "K. K. K." The man generally "moved on" long before the stipulated time.
The negroes, being naturally superstitious and imaginative, helped the order to gain power. In Nashville, Tennessee, among the five dens, there was one formed of medical students from the University. One of the favorite pranks of these young doctors was to ask a negro to hold their horse, and then place in his hand as he reached out to take the lines a finger or a hand taken from a corpse. The negro generally went a mile before he stopped running.
Another effective trick practiced by the Klan was, when they had a negro on trial, to sprinkle beforehand a little powder on the floor – "hell fire," they called it – and when the negro would be looking down at the floor one of the Klansmen would surreptitiously run his foot over the powder line, and a fiery-looking trail would show. The negro would be paralyzed with fright, and was always careful in the future never to have cause to be brought before the Order again.
The Klan practiced numerous clever devices. Fancy the impression made on a negro when a robed Klansman asked him for a drink of water, to see a whole pail go down without any effort (a rubber bag concealed in the uniform aided in this deception), and then to hear a sepulchral voice say, "This is the first drink I have had since I was killed at Chickamauga!"
One never knew when nor where to expect a body of Ku Klux; they would spring up out of the ground, to all appearances; their ghostly figures multiplying like magic; they had a manner of forming their companies which made a band of one hundred men appear like a thousand. Their horses' feet were always muffled, making their approach completely noiseless. But it was only the guilty who feared them; and fear was what the Klan worked to effect. To kill was not their aim, and only where absolutely necessary was it ever resorted to. A rare instance was that of the hanging of a Northern spy by the Pulaski Klan. This man came to Pulaski and took up carpentry; he made the people like him, and worked himself into the Klan; got their pass-words, everything in fact that they knew; then made ready to get away to the North and expose the secrets of the Order. They found it out before he got away, and when he boarded the train in Pulaski, a number of the Klan boarded the car as it turned out of the city, took the man off the train and hung him at the bridge, thus saving their Order a gigantic tragedy. It was never known who did it, the government could find out nothing. The matter was never discussed by any of the Klan, even long years afterward.

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 The Ku Klux Klan by Annie Cooper

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