The Ku Klux Klan. What Is It?

The Anderson Intelligencer/April 29, 1868

The New York Herald professes to have received the annexed circular from an official source. Whether it be a genuine document or not, is a matter of question, but it is at least interesting:

Union Cemetery, Southern States,

April the 7th, 1868.

To the Editor of the Herald:

By command of the Grand Cyclops of the secret order known to the outside world as the Ku Klux Klan, I am directed in the name of truth and justice to make the following statement in reference to this organization. The columns of the Herald have been selected as the medium of this statement for the reason of its well known metropolitan circulation.

It is a well known axiom that men prefer misrepresentation and slanderous criticism to truth and charity. It is equally well known that there exists at this time in the United States two (if not more) gigantic secret political organizations sustained by Congressional legislation, to wit: “The Grand Army of the Republic,” a secret oath-bound military order, and the “Loyal League,” which is composed in the Southern States almost exclusively of negroes and Radical emissaries from the North. The grand objects of these secret Radical societies is to keep in subjection the Democratic party of the North, and to Africanize the South, and thereby, acting in concert with Congressional legislation, perpetuate the rule of the Radical party and change the American Government from a free republic to a most cruel despotism. The army and navy of the United States, under the control of a Radical Congress, have been and are being used to destroy the liberties of a once free people, and to uphold and sustain with their mighty power the insidious and devilish purposes of the secret organizations of the “Grand Army of the Republic” and the “Royal League.” Therefore it is by no means wonderful that these secret societies should raise the cry of a “new rebellion,” “rebel,” “Southern traitor,” “assassin,” etc. Let the enemies of free government and the advocates of negro equality and negro domination beware! White men, and white men alone, are the comprehensive exponents of constitutional liberty, must and will exclusively rule and govern the American republic. Michigan and Connecticut but re-echo the sentiment.

What, then, of the Ku Klux Klan? Is it a myth or stern reality? We answer that it is a great and unconquerable organization. It is not confined exclusively to any State or Territory of the American Union, but has strength and form wherever the flag of the American Republic is recognized as the emblem of constitutional liberty. In some localities the organization is much more powerful than in others. It is stronger in Kentucky than in any other state; Tennessee next, Missouri third, Virginia fourth, Maryland fifth, and New York sixth. There is not a department of the federal government, of the army and navy, that has not a potent membership. Confederate and federal soldiers, confederate and federal sailors alike vie in the objects and purposes of the organization. There is not a leading daily newspaper throughout the entire country that has not their Ku Klux. Therefore, the Ku Klux Klan is neither sectional or partisan, but eminently Conservative and national in its organization and purposes.

White citizens of the United States can only become members of the Ku Klux Klan. Radicals, infidels and negroes cannot become members of the Ku Klux Klan; for the meaning of the term is a Circle of Friends, the object of which is the perpetuity of constitutional liberty.

The organization of the Ku Klux Klan originated from a necessity—the result of Radical legislation and the formation of the secret political orders of the “Loyal League” and the “Grand Army of the Republic,” consequently the Ku Klux Klan is the effect of Radical despotism and injustice. The Ku Klux Klan was first organized in Giles County, Tenn., August, 1866, and was an absolutely necessity, resulting from the tyranny, domination and aggression of the Brownlow Legislature. The passage of the Sherman Shellabarger Bills and supplements in the spring of 1S67 gave the organization a new impetus throughout the South. The increase of the organization in the Northern and Western States, and especially in the Pacific States, from the 1st November, 1867, to the 1st of April, 1868, has been beyond the expectations of its most ardent friends. The organization at this time numbers over seven hundred thousand members, with as rapid additions as the public security may require.

The Know Nothing party was defeated and utterly destroyed by the National Democratic Party, without recourse to a counter secret organization, for the main reason that the Know Nothing Party had not the control of the Federal Government and hence were unable to uphold their organization by the purse and sword. Until recently, however, the enemies of the Ku Klux Klan possessed the government and wielded its mighty powers. They possess it today, but only in name; not in reality. Let the tyrants of a mongrel and infamously corrupt party beware! Your party is but a shell. The castle of radicalism has been permeated and undermined by the white ant of the Ku Klux.

The Ku Klux Klan is, therefore, a secret political organization, the result of necessity, the sole object of which is to thwart Radicalism, arrest negro domination in the South, negro equality in the North, perpetuate the Federal Union and preserve the Constitution as the fathers made it. And whoever asserts to the contrary utters falsehood. That the Ku Klux Klan have secrets unknown to the uninitiated is not denied; so have the ancient orders of Free Masonry, Odd Fellowship and other secret orders and societies; but like Free Masonry and Odd Fellowship the objects and purposes of the Ku Klux Klan have thus been for the first time officially promulgated. The incredulous and guilty may carp and misrepresent; but the wicked, the ungodly and the perjured will soon feel the keen edge of the sickle and the invisible boring of the white ant. Let the coffin be closed.


(Source: Chronicling America,


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