The New Student's Reference Work/Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan was a secret organization which terrorized the freed negroes and not seldom the “carpet-baggers” and northerners during the five or six years subsequent to the Civil War. Its origin may have been directly out of the old patrol kept in slave-holding days; but it was excused chiefly by the violence of some negroes, unused as they were to their newfound freedom. But the Klan did not limit itself to the original attempt at playing upon the superstitious fears of the negroes. The white sheets, masks and cardboard hats were a safe disguise which tempted the worst spirits to lynchings, whippings and similar excesses, until the better class of southerners withdrew, and it became a blot and scourge. After 1872 the organization became little more than a name, although isolated attempts were often made to trade upon the terrors of its reputation.