The Fiery Cross The Ku Klux Klan in America MOBI ↠

The Fiery Cross The Ku Klux Klan in America [Reading] ➾ The Fiery Cross The Ku Klux Klan in America ➵ Wyn Craig Wade – Few groups in our history are as fascinating and mysterious as the Ku Klux Klan Its story is one of violence political manipulation and intrigue absurdity and mesmerizing organizational and propaganda Few groups in Cross The MOBI · our history are as fascinating and mysterious as the Ku Klux Klan Its story is one of violence political manipulation and intrigue absurdity and mesmerizing organizational and propaganda skills Through shrewd political tactics and powerful leadership the Klan has often been a potent force as it encouraged Americans to protect themselves from those they find unacceptable Its actions have made it one of the most The Fiery PDF or feared groups in AmericaIn The Fiery Cross Wyn Craig Wade traces the Klan from its beginnings after the Civil War as a social club in Pulaski Tennessee to the present Wade provides us with the history of the group which has gone through a number of declines and renaissances over the last hundred years We follow the Klan's resurgence in after DW Griffith's epic film The Birth of Fiery Cross The Epub Ý a Nation depicted Fiery Cross The Ku Klux PDF/EPUB or Klan members as heroic saviors of the old Southern society to the swearing in of President Warren G Harding as a Klansman in the Green Room and from the Klan's championing of white supremacy as a response to the Civil Rights movement in the s to their present day activities aligning themselves with a variety of neo fascist and right wing groups in the American West Fiery Cross The Ku Klux PDF/EPUB or Finally Wade provides us with an assessment of the Klan's futureThe Fiery Cross provides an exhaustive analysis and perspective on this dark shadow of American society It is long overdue.

10 thoughts on “The Fiery Cross The Ku Klux Klan in America

  1. Christopher Saunders Christopher Saunders says:

    Wyn Craig Wade's The Fiery Cross is an engaging somewhat sensationalized account of the Ku Klux Klan in its various iterations from Reconstruction through the 1980s Wade's book is full of lurid details about Klan violence and sexual depravity which often feel too potboilerish to seem credible He also perpetrates numerous myths Woodrow Wilson's reaction to Birth of a Nation Warren Harding as Klansman that a careful historian would have avoided At the same time he smashes the myth of the Klan as an initially benevolent organization gone bad showing their activities escalating from racist mischief to violence and political corruption very uickly their capitalizing off sociopolitical trends resentment over Reconstruction 1920s Nativism and evangelical activism the Civil Rights Movement to enhance their power and relevance; their Phoenix like resurgence over the decades doesn't speak well of America's attitudes towards race It's especially depressing to read now that we have a President who received David Duke's full throated endorsement

  2. Bill FromPA Bill FromPA says:

    In honor of newly appointed US AG Jeff Sessions I have put Shakespeare Co on hold in order to read The Fiery Cross the Ku Klux Klan in America by Wyn Craig WadeIt’s divided into three books 1865 1915 1915 1930 and 1930 1987 this last date the year of the book’s publication I’ve just finished the first book covering the Reconstruction period the part of the history that is most familiar to me President Grant summed up the Klan’s aims as by force and terror to prevent all political action not in accord with the views of the members to deprive colored citizens of the right to bear arms and of the right of a free ballot to suppress the schools in which colored children were taught and to reduce the colored people to a condition closely allied to that of slavery The book introduced me to a figure that I don’t recall encountering previously a Democratic congressman who served as the Klan’s primary apologist on the 1871 Congressional investigation into Klan violence a racist with the unlikely and prophetic name Philadelph Van Trump A sample uestion from Van Trump in trying to discredit testimony by African American witnesses to Klan violence “Is not the negro a vainglorious animal if entrusted with any authority?” Though the phrasing is antiuated it accurately characterizes the sentiment that animated much of the opposition to President Obama including that of the current president Wade summarizes the Klan’s effect during this period In retrospect the Ku Klux Klan and its kindred organizations didn’t weaken Radical Reconstruction nearly as much as they nurtured it So long as an organized secret conspiracy swore oaths and used cloak and dagger methods in the South Congress was willing to legislate against it – legislation that would provide vital safeguards for the cause of racial euality in the future Not until the Klan was beaten and the former Confederacy turned to open methods of preserving the Southern way of life did Reconstruction and its Northern support decline I suppose that’s largely true but I think it somewhat downplays the importance of Democratic electoral victories in the South in 1868 70 victories enabled in part by unrestricted Klan activity in suppressing Republican opposition white and black Now on to 1915 and D W GriffithIn book 2 of The Fiery Cross covering 1915 1930 Wyn Craig Wade makes a convincing case that the Ku Klux Klan would have remained an episode in the history of Reconstruction if it had not been for D W Griffith The Klan of the 20th century was not a revival or continuation of its 19th century namesake but an attempt to embody a fictional creation first outlined in the minority report of the 1870s Congressional investigation later elaborated and dramatized by novelists such as Thomas W Dixon and ultimately in the film The Birth of a Nation based on Dixon’s The Clansman One of the Klan’s signature symbols and means of intimidation which gives Wade his title the burning cross was not associated with the historic Klan but was a fiction included in Griffith’s film taken from Dixon who probably got the idea from the Scottish romances of Walter Scott What Griffith did was essentially give racism in the US a brand symbol which would serve as an immediately recognizable signal to its adherents and a wordless but unambiguous threat to its potential victimsIn this section of his book Wade describes a rapidly expanding national organization raking in lots of cash; such concentrations of influence and money made for inevitable leadership battles – covered here for me in too great detail The Klan of the early 20th century was in its public face a fraternal organization a Protestant fundamentalist social group and on occasion a political machine though hatred and fear now expanded to include Jews Catholics and immigrants as well as African Americans still seemed the primary motivations it could offer its members In documenting the Klan as a national organization Wade largely neglects the individual incidents of violence and intimidation that were carried on by Klan members though not openly sanctioned by national and state leadership This focus gave this section of the book a rather detached and somewhat irrelevant uality for me; he fails to make the case that the manipulations and ambitions of these few men within the Klan organization had any effect on American history The final chapter of this section is an in depth look at the Klan in Indiana in the early 1920s where the organization was widespread and heavily influential in politics and law enforcement The Indiana Klan in Wade’s account was largely a cult of personality centered around a charismatic leader When in 1925 that leader was found guilty of the horrific abduction rape and murder of a young woman the organization he led fell almost completely apart Wade attributes the decline of the national Klan in the late 20s largely to this incident but I was not convinced that the fall of one state leader could have such a widespread effect on the relatively large membership of a national organization I suspect that other influences may have led to a falling off in Klan membership such as its failure to meet the social and business needs members looked for in fraternal organizations and particularly in the North its continued association with violent intolerance I’d think that the increasing unpopularity of Prohibition which the Klan supported and occasionally enforced also caused a not insignificant number of members to leave the groupNext the final section of Wade’s book covers a broad range of events including the New Deal WW II and the civil rights eraThe third section of The Fiery Cross by Wyn Craig Wade deals with several phases of the Ku Klux Klan during the years 1930 – 1987 the book’s publication date The moribund Klan of the late 1920s became revitalized in the 1930s as a force in union busting The late 30s saw some Klan groups attempt to form a united front with Nazi sympathizers in the German Bund a movement that foundered with the outbreak of WWII and the concurrent repulsion which has proven to be temporary of the vast majority of Americans for NazismPost war attempts to give the Klan a less barbarous image while still retaining its bigoted appeal took the form of “white pride” groups but this foundered both from lack of appeal to upscale racists and increased violence against court ordered and Federal government enforced integrationThe story of the Klan in the Civil Rights era which Wade refers to as “the Second Reconstruction” is a distressing progression of assaults and murders committed by Klan members abetted actively or passively by local law enforcement and unpunished by judges and juries in those cases which managed to be brought to court Only with the 1980s and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s formation of Klanwatch does Wade indicate that successful prosecutions of Klan violence became common By then however much of the Klan’s agenda had become mainstream with its supporters and fellow travelers seeking to enforce its racist ideology through the passage and interpretation of laws rather than the breaking of laws A Klan Imperial Wizard said in 1980 “The Republican platform reads as if it were written by a Klansman” a statement which has only become true in subseuent elections Though I disagreed at times with some of the conclusions Wade drew from his story his presentation of the facts of Klan history is cogent and thorough I read this book to get some perspective on the present situation in the US Though there has been undeniable progress in civil rights the opposition to racial euality in this country is relentless and electoral complacency has allowed it to gain a strong foothold nationwide Voting rights are seriously endangered at the present moment and I consider that those currently in power would if possible roll back civil rights to a point just short of slavery The police shootings and beatings of unarmed and unresisting African Americans in recent years seems in many ways a continuation of the violent assaults and murders committed by Klansmen against helpless and often random victims Resist

  3. Czarny Pies Czarny Pies says:

    This book which was published almost thirty years ago still appears to be the best survey history available of the Ku Klux Klan While it is clearly time for a new work that will draw on the recent academic monographs this book is unlikely ever be truly superseded as it is extremely solidWade divides the history of the Ku Klux Klan into three sections In the first section the movement was led by former Confederate officers and manned by veterans from the enlisted rank with the objective of preventing the former slaves from acuiring either political or social freedoms in the New South During this phase the various Klan chapters lynched and employed other means of the physical intimidation to prevent Blacks from voting Solidly supported by the general white population the Klan essentially won its war when in 1877 Rutherford Hayes agreed to withdraw the Federal Army from the South in exchange for being awarded the presidency in a disputed electionThe Klan then went into an era of dormancy to be revived in 1915 following the release of DW Griffith's notorious film The Birth of a Nation which glorified the hooded vigilantes The movie did not stimulate racism in America so much as it created a huge market of adult males willing to pay annual dues in order to belong to a secret society with racist values that allowed members to wear spooky costumes and participate in occult rites During this phase Klan organization put as much emphasis on denouncing Jews and Catholics as it did on denigrating blacks With this formula the Klan enjoyed strong public support in both the North and the South but fell apart because of various sexual and financial scandals involving the organizational leaders who had been raking in enormous revenues through the sales of memberships The third phase began in the 1950's as Klan chapters began to sprout in order to fight the civil rights movement through murders and other violent acts During this phase the Klan was vehemently detested in the North and fervently supported in the South The author who lived through this period struggles to maintain a moderate tone as he clearly has a deep seated hatred of both the Klan and its collaborators What Wade found particularly infuriating was the fact that Klan members who committed murders were never convicted in the courts no matter how strong the evidence was against them It is Wade's ill concealed rage that makes this book feel dated This is not to say that Wade was in any way wrong to feel the way he did It is just that future historians who will not have lived through the period will almost certainly employ a neutral tone in describing the odious members of the Klan and their abominable actionsWade concludes his book noting that the Klan appeared had gone into another dormancy and predicting that it wall likely revive again at some point in the future

  4. Joe Joe says:

    Recent events made me think of this book that I read than a decade ago A well written account of the KKK that strips away any pretense of a benign brotherhood Recommended

  5. Karen Karen says:

    This was a challenging book to read on several different levels I read it because the KKK is such an enigma to me I wanted to see if I could understand what would motivate people to be a part of such a violent and despicable group My first issue with this book is that I was ashamed to be reading it despite the fact that that book is anti KKK I initially brought it on my commute to work but I found that on the train and subway I was completely paranoid that someone would see it and misinterpret it especially when there were pictures of robed klansmen I eventually restricted my reading to home which meant it took me much longer than usual to finishThe second problem was that some parts of the book contained gruesome descriptions which I had trouble dealing with I would feel physically ill and depressed after reading the worst of themSo why the high rating? Well this is a relatively academic book so it wouldn’t be for everyone but it really did open my eyes about certain periods of history One of the things that took me by surprise was the role that the movie Birth of a Nation played for the Klan The KKK had pretty much died out before the movie came out in 1915 When I’ve seen those brief black and white clips from the movie I’ve always assumed that the Klansmen were the bad guys in the film but instead they are the heroes Unbelievable In terms of my goal of understanding how people could believe in such horrible things I guess I learned a little but this was mostly history rather than getting into people’s motives and minds There were the truly violent and crazy members of course but there were also many people who initially came to a meeting without knowing much about it and then had trouble leaving because of the Klan’s power and intimidation to both safety and livelihood Other factors were the anonymity provided by the robes which allowed people to do things they normally wouldn’t and the belief that they were protecting their way of life and families Of course none of that excuses their vile actionsOverall a disturbing but thorough history

  6. Narkitsa Orada Narkitsa Orada says:

    The review below that says it feels dated is on point I can hardly say it's a flaw with the book itself but the fact that this was written at a time when it was apparently still necessary to critiue the racist historiography of the early twentieth century gives some of the book an oddly defensive tone that seems unnecessary today Aside from that I liked it it's the best kind of popular history engagingly written and also thoroughly researched panoramic in scope and fascinating Would very much read again

  7. Rob Grebel Rob Grebel says:

    This book was my first exposure to the idea that Reconstruction was actually a good thing as conceived and not just about money grubbing carpetbaggers or whatever the myth is Excellent book

  8. VEL – The Contemporary Heretic VEL – The Contemporary Heretic says:

    Few books deal with the entire history of the Klan Most deal only with one period or one time and placeThis is perhaps because although we talk of ‘ the’ Klan there have been many groups claiming this name and even those with a national or pan Southern membership lacked central control“After the Klan had spread outwards from Tennessee there wasn’t the slightest chance of central control over it—a problem that would characterize the Klan throughout its long career” p58BirthIf the stereotypical Klansman is an illiterate redneck the group’s name bears a surprisingly classical etymology deriving from the Greek ‘kuklos’The reflected the standing of its six founders of whom two became lawyers one editor of a newspaper another a state legislator p32The group initially had no political intent One founding member claimed their intention was “purely social and for amusement” p34 Since as a Southerner he likely approved the politics with which the Klan became associated he had no obvious incentive to lie“It has been said that if Pulaski had had an Elks Club the Klan would never have been born” p33This explains why Klan titles eg Grand Goblin are what one might expect in a college fraternity than a terrorist groupYet their practical jokes increasingly targeted blacksEven here intentions were first jocular The white sheets worn by Klansmen were originally conceived in imitation of ghosts the wearers posing as “The ghosts of the Confederate dead who had risen from their graves to wreak vengeance on blacks” p35Sheets were also a disguise—but there was no standardization“A black female victim of the Klan was able to recognise one of her assailants because he wore a dress she herself had sewed for his wife” p60Chivalry?The Klan claimed to be protecting the honor of white womenYet Wade claims that black on white rapes were actually rare He even uotes a Klansman admitting as much“But one case of rape by a negro upon a white woman was enough to alarm the whole people of the state” p20In contrast he claims Klansmen operating a double standard regularly raped blacks during raids p76Yet today black on white rape is uite common at least compared to other victim offender dyads Indeed the authors of one textbook on criminology report“Some researchers have suggested because of the freuency with which African Americans select white victims about 55 percent of the time it could be considered an interracial crime” Criminology A Global Perspective p544Success?The Klan came to stand for the reestablishment of white supremacy and disenfranchisement of blacksIn the short term this was achieved But Wade denies the Klan a part in this victory“The Ku Klux Klan didn’t weaken Radical Reconstruction nearly as much as they nurtured it So long as an organized secret conspiracy swore oaths and used cloak and dagger methods in the South Congress was willing to legislate against it Not until the Klan was beaten and the former confederacy turned to open methods of preserving the Southern way of life did reconstruction decline” p109 110Thus the First Klan was a failure In this respect it set the model for later Klans which would fight a losing rearguard action against the Civil Rights MovementResurrectionWhy then was the Klan revived when other groups were forgotten? Wade does not address this but one suspects the outlandishness of the group’s name and titles contributed as did the fact that it was the only group active throughout the SouthTwo further factors contributed First the spectacular success of the film Birth of a Nation portraying the Klan in hagiographic termsBoth deplored for its message yet also grudgingly admired for its technical achievement this film occupies a curious place in film history roughly comparable to Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda films Sergei Eisenstein’s Stalinist propaganda films get a free passEven in its day it was controversial The NAACP campaigned to have it banned⁠—proving that the Left’s commitment to free speech was always selective p127 8Second were two murders of Mary Phagan a thirteen year old factory girl and Leo Frank her boss and alleged killerHis lynching was carried out by a group calling themselves ‘The Knights of Mary Phagan’ many of whom would become founder members of the new Klan and who would establish a Klan ritual namely the ascent of Stone Mountain to burn a cross a ritual invented by novelist Thomas Dixon in The ClansmanYet the Frank lynching was an unusual miscarriage of justice Frank’s apologists are in the unusual position of claiming white southerners falsely convict a white when they should have blamed a blackTrue Frank was Jewish but there was little history of antisemitism in the South and probably prejudice against him as a Yankee carpetbaggerSignificantly Frank’s lynching was also instrumental in the genesis of another pressure group whose influence on American political life far outstripped the Klan and which unlike the Second Klan survives to this day – namely the ADL which protected Jewish interests far successfully than the Klan ever did those of whites and would play a key role fighting later Klan incarnationsAnti PoperyYet the primary animus of the Second Klan was directed neither at Jews nor blacks but rather at Catholics a form of prejudice now obsolete outside of Northern IrelandThe retreat from anti Catholicism was fastSymbolically a Catholic Cathedral was even built on the site of Klan’s former Imperial Palace and Imperial Wizard Evans invited to its inaugural serviceBefore promptly resigning he described the service as “The most ornate ceremony and most beautiful service I ever saw” p265⁠— beautiful even than a cross burningToday the Second Klan’s anti Catholicism is an embarrassment even to otherwise unreconstructed racistsThe decline of anti Catholicism thus shows the speed with which prejudices can be overcomeIt also points to an ironic byproduct of the move towards greater tolerance in American society—namely even groups ostensibly opposed to this process have been affected by itEven the Klan has become inclusiveDecline The Klan’s decline was even faster than its abandonment of anti Catholicism“In 1924 the Ku Klux Klan had boasted than four million members By 1930 that number had withered to about forty five thousand No other American movement has ever risen so high and fallen so low in such a short period” p253Even its famous 1925 march on Washington “proved its most spectacular last gasp” attracting “only half of the sixty thousand expected” p249“The National gathering of thirty thousand was less than what DC Stephenson could have mustered in Indiana alone during the Klan’s heyday” p250 The membership profile also changed“Klan defections began with the prominent the educated and the well to do and proceeded down through the middle class” p252The Klan also retreated geographically“Over the next half century the Klan would gradually lose its Northern members regressing and loosely towards its Reconstruction ancestor” p254MurdersIf the first Klan was formed as a joke the second Klan was a money making venture⁠—but both descended into terrorWade claims than violence it was the hypocrisy of Klan leaders that weakened itWhile its purported to champion prohibition and the protection of white womanhood DC ‘Steve’ Stephenson a hugely successful Indiana Klan leader was convicted of the rape kidnap and murder of Madge Oberholtzer a white protestant woman during a drunken bingeThus from the murder of Mary Phagan to that of Madge Oberholtzer“The Second Klan began and ended with the death of an innocent girl” p247Death and TaxesThe Second Klan was finally destroyed not by prosecution or bad PR—but by the taxmanIn 1944 the Inland Revenue demanded unpaid taxes on the profits earned during its heyday driving the group to bankruptcy p275Ultimately the government destroyed the Klan as they did Al Capone—failure to pay taxesAfterlifeThe so called ‘Third Klan’ was not one Klan but many They filled the vacuum left by the earlier Klan but never matched its impactFrom this point it is no longer really proper to talk of ‘ the’ Klan since there is no one group with an exclusive registered trademark on the nameRespectable opposition to desegregation was monopolized by The Citizens’ Councils The Klan was left with “nothing but the violence prone dregs of southern society” p302The electoral campaigns of governor George Wallace had a similar effect p364 Yet Wade concludes“No one used and manipulated Klansmen than Wallace He gave them very few rewards for their efforts on his behalf” p322In this respect Trump seems to be playing the same role in relation to the contemporary alt right“The David Duke Show”The Klan did manage one last hurrah in the 1970s through the singular talents of David DukeDuke’s schtick was to use the imagery of Klandom to attract media attention but then come across as elouent intelligent and clean cut than anyone expected a Klansman to be Not difficultThe result was a media circus dismissed by rival Klansmen as “The David Duke Show” p373Richard Spencer seems to be filling a similar niche for the contemporary American media with if rumors are to be believed a similar penchant for seducing the wives and girlfriends of his colleagues and supportersSuch behavior was among the reasons that Duke alienated his former supporters many of whom formed rival groupsFor Wade the most important defector was Bill Wilkinson who set up a rival Klan poaching members from DukeLacking Duke’s elouence and good looks Wilkinson resorted to another strategy to attract media attention—“taking a public stance of unbridled violence” p375Wilkinson also “perfected a techniue that other Klan leaders belittled as ‘ambulance chasing’” p384“Wilkinson traversed the nation seeking racial ‘hot spots’ where he can come into a community collect a large amount of initiation fees sell a few robes sell some guns collect his money and be on his way to another ‘hot spot’” p384In short exactly the same tactic as employed by black race baiters like Al Sharpton and BLM todayUnable to disassociate himself from the likes of Wilkinson Duke himself ultimately came to see the Klan baggage as a liability One by one he jettisoned such elements styling himself National Director rather than Imperial Wizard wearing a suit rather than sheets and eventually giving up the Klan name itselfYet on abandoning Klan imagery he found media interest dissipated yet found his name ever prefixed with the title “former KlansmanGrand Wizard”Un American AmericanismKlansmen once claimed to stand for ‘ 100%Americanism’ Now were not the very word ‘un American’ so tainted by McCarthyism as to seem almost un American in itself the Klan could almost be described as uintessentially un AmericanIndeed there was pressure on the House Un American Activities Committee to investigate the Klan from the beginning“The Creation of the Committee had been urged and supported by liberals and Nazi haters who wanted it used as a congressional forum against fascism But in the hands of chairman Martin Dies of Texas an arch segregationist the committee instead had become an anachronistic pack of witch hunters who harassed labor leaders and discovered ‘communists’ in every imaginable shape and place” p272Wade’s objection then seems to be not that the HUAC became “witch hunters” but that they chose to hunt the wrong coven of witchesUltimately however Klansmen fell victim to the same FBI dirty tricks as fashionable victims on the Left p361 3Today‘The Fiery Cross’ was published in 1987 but Klan groups still exist However they have long ceased to have any real role in American political social and cultural life save as as bogeyman and folk devilIn the 1920s the Klan played a key role in politics Wade even claims dubiously that Harding was inducted into the Klan while President p165In the 1980 presidential race both candidates sought to link the Klan to his opponent This led Wilkinson to declare“We’re not an issue in this Presidential race because we’re insignificant” p388But the Klan’s role was now wholly negative Neither candidate courted Klan votes or had real Klan links That would have been electoral suicideThe Klan’s role then was then roughly analogous to that played by Willie Horton in the 1988 presidential campaign; the role NAMBLA plays in the debate over gay rights; or the role communists played during the Red ScareThus today we have gone full circleWhere once Klansmen had a seeming ‘licence to kill’ in the South today if any suspect in a racist murder were outed as a Klansman this would likely prejudice a jury of any ethnic composition anywhere in the country against himToday the problem is not with ‘all white juries’ but majority black juries eg the OJ casePerhaps the last case of Klansmen getting away with murder was the Greensboro Massacre p378 83 Here however if the jury was prejudiced it was not because those killed were blacks most weren’t but because they were ‘reds’Lynching is out of fashion Yet if it were ever to reemerge as a popular American pastime among the first to be hoisted from a tree along with pedophiles and sex offenders would be Klansmen and other white racistsLikewise today if Klansmen march a police presence is reuired not to protect blacks or Catholics from rampaging Klansmen but to protect the Klansmen themselves from angry assailants of all ethnicitiesIndeed the latter styling themselves ‘Antifa’ despite their positively fascist opposition to freedom of speech and assembly have even taken like Klansmen of old to wearing masks to disguise their identity

  9. Stephen Stephen says:

    Living in the country as I did the bus ride to school always lasted over an hour and in elementary school I remember being utterly petrified by older students telling we younger horror stories They spoke of monsters in white sheets demons from hell who could rise from the ground or who lived in the woods and would come out at dusk or emerge from a fog and snatch little children up returning to their lairs to eat them This was my earliest exposure to the Ku Klux Klan After having read The Fiery Cross I wonder if those stories have some basis in 19th century folk history of parents warning their young against the obscene danger that continued to erupt in the hundred years that followed the Civil War The Fiery Cross is a history of America's own hydra of a hooded beast that has risen and been slain numerous times yet always comes back the Invisible Empire an organization where sheets hide a confusing jumble of motives fears and hatredsAlthough Lincoln's armies prevailed against those of the south the Confederate cause was not totally lost until Andrew Johnson faced off against a Republican congress and was defeated A southerner himself Johnson's plan for uickly grafting South back into the Union left Congress with a bitter taste in its mouth What had been the point of the war of those hundreds of thousands of men and boys dying of all of the money spent if the South was simply to be welcomed back with open arms? Not settling for anything less than a total remolding of the south Congress introduced its own re admittance programs incorporating various amendments and federal administrations like the Freedman's Bureau Southern resistance manifested itself almost immediately bristling at outside meddling and the humiliation of having been made second class subjects of the law in their own land The most forceful opposition came from shattered remnants of the Confederate army either refusing to give up the fight or seeing resistance easier than submission and the ranks of the old slave patrols Both bands of men moved about and acted autonomously taking the law into their own hands when they saw fit Their violence against the new invasion of not only Union troops but northern lawyers government agents and teachers found a means of easy expression in the white robes of the Ku Klux KlanCuriously the Klan proper did not begin as a political organization; according to the author six young men formed a secret society complete withe elaborate titles and costumes for the pure purpose of gallivanting around the countryside at night raising hell and having fun When they started playing pranks on freedmen however pretending to be the ghosts of Confederate dead things grew far nastier As the Klan grew in number it took a life of its own one demanding purpose and that purpose came to protect the supremacy of white southerners both against the Yankee invader and against the usurping blacks The civil war continued again this time under cover of night and fought with terror than muskets Although the Klan would be reorganized as a strict hierarchy anyone with a bedsheet and the desire for vengeance could cause trouble Hooded hooliganism so swept the south that the Grand Wizard of the Klan ordered the organization's self destruction and President Grant was forced to declare martial law to uell the anarchyThe Klan collapsed when the North washed its hands of the South ending reconstruction and allowing the old planters to redeem their nation Soon attempts at subduing blacks through fear and criminal means would find success in binding them by the lawThe Klan would revive in the early 20th century but not as simple reaction against one government program Credit for reviving the group is generally given to The Birth of a Nation a highly innovative piece of film making that depicted the Klan as righteous saviors of civilization against moral bankruptcy In truth public response to Birth of a Nation was managed carefully by a evangelical preacher who thought the old clan admirable Reusing old charters and titles but adding a bit organization he effected a comeback that was potent and less obvious The new Klan still maintained its racial message and support of segregation but it was heavily influenced by the Fundamentalist movement and drew support from the rising fear of social and moral anarchy The early decades were a frightening world for many Americans organized crime was on the rise immigration from Europe continued apace and brought with it all kinds of new strange and sometimes dangerous ideas Although from the 21st century it is easy to sit in judgment of our predecessors a century go for panicking about flappers and jazz this was an age of labor riots and anarchist assassinations in which increasingly very little could be taken for granted America was changing the country emptying out the cities swelling Farmers were in debt and industrial workers utterly at the mercy of their employers Against this chaos the Klan pitched itself as a rear guard of civilization If political machines and bribe taking cops wouldn't keep bedlam in check the 'caped crusaders' would leaving ominous messages outside the doors of evil doers like men failing to support their wives or blacks attempting to move into a white neighborhood They held high the cross and flag offering a social club that gave aid to its ailing members and offered them a chance to 'fight back' either as a political organization or through old fashioned thuggery They were a cult a gang an invisible empire justified unto themselves and utterly sinister Between World War 2 and the revelation that a Klan chieftan had kidnapped a young girl and tried to eat her however the second Klan fell apart Later iterations have never achieved much than being vague threats; they have certainly lost whatever reputation they cultivated as guardians of civic order cannibalism will do that and settled for being lunatics on the fringe content merely to stir up troubleThe Fiery Cross is an exceptionally well done history of a dismal subject relying heavily on letters and charters for the 1870s clan and interviews for the modern iteration Despite having grown up in the South I knew next to nothing about the thing that is the clan and I say thing because there's never been just the one organization It is instead an idea a symbol rather like the V for Vendetta masks not to slander those activists that creates association without unification One hopes that the Klan's day is now past despite its occasional resurfacing Given that they have descended to becoming recurring characters on The Jerry Springer Show there is is room for optimism The most fascinating section for me was that on the second Klan given that its perverse masuerade as a civic organization manages to launch it to national success flouring not only in the South but in the northeast and especially the midwestRelatedRace with the Devil My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love Joseph Pearce

  10. Dennis Phillips Dennis Phillips says:

    In this book Wyn Wade has given us a very good overview but not an extremely detailed look at the Ku Klux Klan That is not to say that he has not done his research for he has found lots of material The simple fact is that a book of this length cannot possibly cover the subject in any great depth That would reuire a book at least twice this long and probably three times as long This book was obviously not intended to be a Shelby Foote type narrative of the Klan but the basic survey that it isWade has done a good job with the post reconstruction Klan but he tends to take revisionist history a bit too far One thing that puzzles me is that he refers to Tennessee as the the only border state that left the Union Many historians refer to the Volunteer State as a border state even though it was surrounded by slave states on all sides so I can let that part of the statement slide I have never however heard of Tennessee referred to as a border state without at least Virginia and Arkansas also receiving that label It's not a big thing I realize but it did bug meAfter reconstruction Wade takes the reader to the history of DW Griffith's Birth of a Nation the movie that made the rebirth and rise of the post World War I Klan possible Then he traces the new Klan through its phenomenal growth to its demise Wade then moves on to the Cold War anti Communist Klan the Civil Rights era Klan the David Duke Klan and today's Aryan crowd He does a fine job of bringing out the personalities of various Klan leaders and giving the lowdown on various politicians who while not Klansmen themselves were than happy to court Klan support He also does an outstanding job of telling the story of Klan violence with special attention to the victims

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