Examining The History Of The Ku Klux Klan. Democratic Perspective welcomes back Fergus Bordewich, historian and author of numerous books, to discuss the three stages of the KKK. He says the original Klan began from a rather inauspicious start with a gathering of ex-Confederate soldiers as a kind of lark – a club. By 1867 it had dynamically grown into a political organization spreading across all the former Confederate states and committing hideous violent acts against blacks and white, progressive Republicans. President Grant recognized the growing threat and crushed it. And, by 1872, the Klan as an organized movement was dead.
“The second Klan was inspired by Birth of a Nation in 1915,” says Bordewich. The film was praised by President Woodrow Wilson which turbocharged a new Klan that was racist, nativist, and vehemently anti-Catholic. But, by the 1940s, its membership had faded as a result of its criminal behavior.
Bordewich explains that the third Klan sprang up after WWII with tenuous roots in the previous Klan. It openly organized against the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s but was eventually penetrated by the FBI and shattered. And, though Bordewich says the Klan still exists, he notes that the real terrorist threat is from many scattered militias across the country that operate with Klan thinking under different names.