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Original Klan born in law offices of six young men in Pulaski, Tennessee in fall 1866.
Social and fraternal club origins of KKK soon give way to political terrorism of blacks and southern Republicans.
Klan enjoys tremendous popularity in southern states. North and west Alabama become particular strongholds. White supremacy is upheld in Black Belt and south Alabama by kindred organizations such as the Knights of the White Camelia, the Men of Peace, and the White Brotherhood.
In April 1867 ex-Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest agrees to serve as Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire. Other southern generals follow in leadership roles.
Alabama Klan targets carpetbaggers, scalawags, and "uppity" blacks. At least 109 documented Klan killings occur in Alabama during Reconstruction. Countless other acts of terrorism and brutality occur. Conservative-Democratic party supports KKK as do sympathetic editors; becomes difficult to tell where Bourbon party ends and Klan begins.
Federal civil rights legislation, including a Ku Klux Klan Act, South Carolina's suspension of habeas corpus, and subsequent arrest of hundreds of Klansmen discourage continuation of secret order, but 1874 "redemption" of state establishes no further need for para-military, terrorist wing of Conservative-Democratic party.
Late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century "Dunning School" of Southern historiography celebrates role KKK played in redeeming South from nightmare rule of "ignorant, lustful, and brutish" blacks and "scoundrelly" carpetbaggers and scalawags.