Hate Groups vs. The Reconstruction By: Adam LEe

To what extent did various hate groups such as the KKK influence the Reconstruction? During the early Reconstruction period, a white supremacist group known as the Klu Klux Klan came to life in order to incite terror into freed blacks. The organization intimidated African-Americans with violence while wearing white robes and masks. Other groups such as the Knights of White Camellia and the White League also has high influence within the south, eventually setting the standard for the white supremacist south that still persists today. The Reconstruction was largely unsuccessful in terms of mending racial differences due to white supremacist groups refusing to allow African-Americans to have any rights or freedoms and resorting to racial intimidation.

The KKK's lasting legacy was and always will be known for their white supremacy in the southern part of the United States. In 1868, the KKK wrote a formal threat to Davie Jeems, who was a newly elected sheriff of Lincoln County, and who was also black. The threat to Jeems is a representation of the not-so-discreet nature of the KKK and how they dealt with their biases. Furthermore, this note serves as a representation to the history of the KKK and their common attacks on blacks. The KKK member tells Jeems to "tell platt Madison we have, a Box. For him and you." and that they "nail all, radicals up in Boxes and send them away to KKK". The KKK member basically says to know their places, or else they'll end up in boxes. This sort of racial intimidation is a lasting legacy of the KKK and will remain with them until ends.

Letter from KKK to Davie Jeems

The KKK's influence during the Reconstruction represents a failure of the overall period due to the high volume of hate crimes committed against African-Americans. One of these cases occurred when a Klansman hanged a Canadian minister, William Luke, because it apparently an offense to teach other freedmen to read and write. This example can be used as a representation of how many needless murders or acts of violence were committed against innocent freedmen. A bystander claims that " they shot one very bad negro, putting six balls in his head.", and the reason for this was because he was "stirring them up insubordination". This murder of an innocent black man was a representation of the unnecessary amount of deaths of blacks and how it was a failure of the Reconstruction.

There was however, a small success in the KKK's role in the Reconstruction. For a short period of time, the KKK and other hate groups were reduced to the point of being obsolete for a long period of time due the government's role in the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1875. The act's primary goal was to "protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights", this obviously was targeting the protection of African-Americans. Essentially, the passing of the act allowed the government to crack down on the hate groups of the society, mainly the KKK. In effect, the KKK was rendered obsolete through the act, at least until the early 20th century.

Overall, the KKK had an extremely large impact on the Reconstruction period due to their various acts of hate on the recently freed African Americans. Similar to the treatment of the blacks, the Native Americans were also subjugated by white citizens. The Natives suffered from discrimination and were also tormented due to their race by whites, similar to the African Americans. The Natives were treated extremely poorly all the way back to before the United States had been born, to until the American Indians were put on reservations, away from their white counterparts.

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