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The Story of the Ku Klux Klan 1866-187 1 









B. W. H. 



X HIS IS JUST what its sub-title represents it to be — a story 
of the Ku Klux Klan. It is historically accurate (at least every 
precaution has been taken to make it so), but it is told in nar- 
rative form because that seems to be the clearest and most 
vivid way of presenting this incredible chapter in American 

An organization such as the Ku Klux Klan could have been 
organized and sustained only in such circumstances as pre- 
vailed in the South following the War Between the States. 
Its birth, its life, and its death were shrouded in mystery; no 
complete story of its existence has ever before been told. It is 
the purpose of this book to tell that story, to clear away some 
of the mystery which hangs about the Ku Klux name. 

To avoid interruption to the flow of the narrative, there are 
no distracting footnotes. Every statement, however, is fully 
substantiated. In the Appendix is a bibliography of basic 
works of reference, the reading of which has been supplemented 
by intensive personal research throughout the South over a 
period of several years, including the painstaking scanning of 
old newspaper files and numerous interviews with surviving 
members of the Klan. 

An acknowledgment and an expression of appreciation are 

viii Author's Note 

due to all those who have so generously assisted me in preparing 
this work, but they are so many in number that an enumeration 
of their names might weary the reader. Among the institutions 
and organizations to which I owe thanks are the National 
Archives and Library of Congress at Washington; the New York 
Public Library; the Department of Archives and History of 
Tennessee, also the similar department of Alabama; the Ten- 
nessee Historical Society; the Buffalo Historical Society; the 
Nashville (Tennessee) Public Library; the Howard Library, 
New Orleans, Louisiana; the Cossitt Library, Memphis; the 
Virginia Historical Society; the Library, Duke University, 
Durham, North Carolina; and many others. 




The Growth of the Empire 



The Realms of the Empire 









X Contents 


The Decline of the Empire 



y/xv. THE KU KLUX FEVER 326 








References 421 
Index 423 


The Story of the Ku Klux Klan 

I 866-1 871 


I A HIS IS AN INSTITUTION of chivalry, humanity, mercy 
and patriotism; embodying in its genius and its principles all 
that is chivalric in conduct, noble in sentiment, generous in 
manhood and patriotic in purpose.' So ran the opening decla- 
ration in the official Trescript of the Order of the * * ♦' adopted 
early in 1868. J 

Late in the same year the Reconstruction legislature of 
Georgia passed an anti-Ku Klux law, declaring the need for 
protection from the depredations of 'a secret organization of 
men who, under the cover of masks and other grotesque dis- 
guises, armed with knives, revolvers and other deadly weapons, 
do issue from the place of their rendezvous . . . generally in the 
late hours of the night, to commit violence and outrage upon 
peaceable and law-abiding citizens, robbing and murdering 
them upon the highways, and entering their houses, tearing 
them from their homes and the embrace of their families, and, 
with violent threats and insults, inflicting on them the most 
cruel and inhuman treatment . . . disturbing the public peace, 
ruining the happiness and prosperity of the people, and in 
many places over-riding the civil authorities, defying all law 
and justice.' 

At first blush it might appear that the institution of chivalry, 
humanity, mercy and patriotism' would provide an ideal 

2 Invisible Empire 

mechanisni for protecting the people from the outrages of this 
secret organization which was committing violence and outrage 
upon peaceable and law-abiding citizens. Strange as it may 
seem, however, the band of lawless desperadoes referred to in 
this legislative enactment were one and the same with the order 
whose declaration of purpose was of so lofty a nature. The 
* * * of the Prescript was the Ku Klux Klan of the punitive law; 
and the wide gulf between these descriptions demonstrates the 
impossibility of evaluating the Ku Klux movement by means 
of sweeping generalities. 

The story of the Ku Klux Klan is bound up, of course, with 
the whole tragic story of Reconstruction. It is a story of political 
involutions, corruption, duplicity, abuse of power, misrule and 
violence, impossible to relate in a few paragraphs. For a brief 
summary, however, it is difficult to improve on the minority 
report of the 'Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Con- 
dition of the Late Insurrectionary States,' which in 1871 made 
the extensive investigation and voluminous report which is now 
embalmed in an official government publication embracing 
thirteen forbidding volumes of fine print commonly called the 
Ku Klux Report. There were twenty-one members of this com- 
mittee, carefully chosen to preclude any possibility of bias in 
favor of the South, and a majority of thirteen brought in the 
condemnatory report expected of them. The minority, how- 
ever, sharply took issue with the majority and said bluntly: 

TIad there been no wanton oppression in the South, there 
would have been no Ku Kluxism. Had there been no rule of 
the tyrannical, corrupt carpetbagger or scalawag rule, there 
would have been no secret organizations. From the oppression 
and corruption of the one sprang the vice and outrage of the 
other. ... 

'When the testimony taken before us is analyzed, and the 
ignorance and degradation of the Southern negro is understood; 
when, as General Grant shows in his report of December, 1865, 

Prologue 3 

they believed that the property of their former masters of right 
belonged to them and was not entitled to any protection; when, 
as all the testimony shows, the carpetbaggers, Freedmen's 
Bureau agents and Loyal Leaguers who went to these states 
took as the theme of their harangues the wrongs the negroes had 
suffered and the right they had to take whatever they pleased 
of the property they had labored to acquire for their masters; 
when, in secret, sworn organizations hatred of the white race 
at the South was instilled into the minds of these ignorant peo- 
ple by every art and wile that bad men could devise; when the 
negroes were formed into military organizations and the white 
people of these states were denied the use of arms; when arson^ 
rape, robbery and murder were things of daily occurrence;: 
when the great mass of the most intelligent whites were dis- 
franchised and the ballot was put into the hands of the negro 
by the government at Washington; when every promise made 
and every law enacted was broken and disregarded by the 
Federal authorities whenever it suited their purpose to do so; 
when even the courts were closed and the Federal officers, who 
were made by Congress absolute rulers and dispensers of what 
they called justice, ignored, insulted and trampled upon the 
rights of the ostracized and disfranchised white man while the 
official pandered to the enfranchised negro on whose vote he 
relied; in short, when that people saw that they had no rights 
which were respected, no protection from insult, no security 
even for their wives and little children, and that what little 
they had saved from the ravages of war was being confiscated 
by taxation and rendered valueless by the debts for which men 
who owned nothing had pledged it, and saw that all their 
complaints and remonstrances, however honestly and humbly 
presented to Congress, were either wholly disregarded or re- 
garded as evidence of a rebellious and unsubdued spirit, many 
of them took the law into their own hands and did deeds of 
violence which we neither justify nor excuse. But all history 

4 Invisible Empire 

shows that bad government will make bad citizens; and when 
the corruption, extortions and villainy of the governments 
which Congress has set up and maintained over the Southern 
states are thoroughly understood and made known, as we trust 
they will be some day, the world will be amazed at the long 
suffering and endurance of that people.' 


An Introduction in Pictures 
to the story of the Ku Klux Klan 

Photograph by Roberts Sltidio^ Pulaski, Tennessee. 

An evening in December, 1865. Six young men are sitting 
around the fireplace of Judge Jones's law oflice in Pulaski, 
Tennessee. The war is over. They are bored. Somebody 
suggests forming a club — ^^ , ,. j 


„ \y^ V^"^^'. 

Ilbistralion from * Harper'' s Weekly of February igth, 1868, showing two Army officers 
posed in Ku Klux uniforms captured at Huntsvilley Alabama. 

The object of the society being purely amusement, they invent 
for themselves grotesque names and outlandish costumes — 

^^^rf^^/.^ ^ 



Uniform worn by an officer of the Ku Klux in Marshall County, Tennessee. It is of 
red calico, with white trimmings; the head-dress of red flannel, with white mask 
ornamented with red stars. {From the collection of Lucius E. Burch, Jr.y Memphis , 

which are at first simple, but later elaborate and brilliant — 

A Carolina Ku Klux^ as illustrated in ^A Fool's Errand, 

and ride about at night, terrifying insolent negroes, who 
believe they are ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers. Soon 
the plaything has become a dangerous weapon — 

What Does it Mean? — The following 
mysterious "Take Notice" was fouod under 
-our door e&rly yesterdajr morning, having 
diHibtlees been slipped thdre the night pre- 
vious. Will any one ventuie to tell us 
what it naeans, if it means anything at all? 
What is a "Kuklux Klan,'' and who is this 
^*Grand Cyclops" that issues his mysteri- 
o«s and imperative orders? Can any one 
give us a little light on this subject? Here 
is the order: 

**Takb Notice.— The Kuklax K'-n will 
assemble at their usual place of rendezvous, 
>*The Den," on Tuesday night next, exact- 
ly at the hour of midnight, in costume and 
bearing the arms of the Klan. 

•*By or of the Grand Cyclops. 

O. T." 

On March 29, 1867, the editor of the Pulaski Citizen, Grand 
Geni of the local Den, publishes the first story on the Klan — 

Aboai on© o'clock tftlM moniii^ an onliaarf 
•ixed brick wh* Uirowa throoftli »*> op«wi pan* la 
oar window, bikI f»U l>ftrtal«0id7 on Um floor. Ova 
lUanuMl night editor sdtt'aiMMKt to the omter of tbe 
ro«m ennUousSy, and foand beneath tJte brkik tbe 
folloariug mysteHons jptodocition, writtaa W a xalE- 
g«d, tMtir It»^ib!o hand, on damp, tbin paper. W« 
gUvn It for wbal it ia worib : 

k:. KC. Ki. 



Nmto Oltckrimk Dsm, 
Mo&TAi.'a Moirra, 2tith. 
Avenging sword« li««j-t Oaunt ii9>e«)trra giro mu-! 
Bloody bon«« draw nigh 1 

t * t 

" Old Brimmona, tramamed Brown low, Hngera on 
tbe aboree of ti one to plague the eartb. Hxi oboatxi 
ball and atrikea in tbe dark at the Invisible and 
Intangible Ka Klux. Hear this expiring old man 
of tbe KnoSYlUe Whig,' Oor oounael ouoe for all 
ia, that wlMOMver tbeee tile mlaereants make their 
uppearaaoe among as, mounted, booted and 
apnrred^nd however dl«f;uU)ed, let tbe white and 
ooiored Radicals ta«(>t them p;umplly, and in tbe 
ttpirit of their own lawleee miasiun, and dhtperse 
them, and if u^ed require thie iu diaperaing them, 
exterminate them. 

ttttt tttttttttt 
Ko-Klux, bear the command of tbe Ueutenant 
Great Grand Cyolo{>s: 

Sonto/the moodif Daoffcr, J^n^tartf 


Carpet BagB, Beware, 


Tbe good die tirat, lite bad mast follow, A l>laok 
monument to departed greatneae in onler; 

No more concessions t Revenge ie 
It moat come, 
Build tbe monnment— Tbe gboet of departed 
Klana will nerve you: 

The tiplrit of the living will asstatl 
Pbarnoh'a Drowning Hoet! 
Moans of Bttrninx Soalet Avenging Sworda! 
TbeJiiver of Sty:(l Pblliatinoe prownl Whet 
theSword« orKxtermiaationl Slay all Traltera! 
Oaat tbe wortbU>4ia soaObardH aaide ! Forget not 
your uaUte— your btndingsl Venffeancc m onljf 

Tbrloe again shiUl 

vengeance reek : 

UntU blood shall flow 
In erary oi«ek ! 

Yoma on a coffin, 

K. k, f^, Jn 

From the Memphis ^Avalanche.* 

Friendly editors print Klan notices in the guise of news items — 

From a pamf*hlet published in Hartford^ Connecticut^ in i8y2, purporting to relate 
the ''Experience of a Northern nmn among the Ku Klux.* 

Since the times are rotten-ripe for it, the Klan spreads like 
wildfire. Imaginary stories circulate concerning its gruesome 
activities; some of these will apjjear later in Northern papers — 

What may ihih mi 
Thai Uiou, <i€itil corrtii, ajarain, in < onij. '*•*«. 

So horrj'liy !• . ,.,,, 

Wjt,h tliougiitn i..>"iiu luf .-v)u hcf* of <L'!ir 

Aul.l Cloot!^, I ken yt'ry thinkin'. 
^^ertuiii (ihonl in rtuitin', <lrJiikir»', 
Some luoklOHH nig!»t will »<;n«l him llnkin,* 

To your hlack jit ; 
J'lil, fuiDt ! );t'll turn a corn»tr jinkin', 
Au' thtat you yet. 

Title-f)agc of the Original Prescript of the Ku Klux Klan. {Originally owned by 
Captain A. T. Fielder of Dyer County^ Tennessee; now in the collection of Mr. 
Hallum W. Goodloe, Nashville.) 

The thing is getting out of hand. To control it, a formal 
constitution or 'Prescript' is drawn up by General George W. 
Gordon, Grand Dragon of the Realm of Tennessee. 

Courtesy of J. D. Porter, Birmingham, Alabama, 

The cabalistic three stars appear on General Gordon's gold 
badge, with the motto 'In hoc Signo Spes mea' (In this sign is 
my hope) — 

Courtesy of the Confederate Museum at Richmond, Virginia. 

The Cabarrus County, North Carolina, Den has its own proud 
banner — 


1864. 186a 


Political cartoon in ^Harper's Weekly.* 

By the time of the Presidential election of 1868, the Klan is 
a factor in national politics, used by the North to discredit the 
Democratic candidates — 

Warning sent to an offender in Alabama, {Introduced in the testimony before the 
Congressional Investigating Committee.) 

Continuing to grow, the Klan uses threats more often than 
force. Warnings are often grotesquely embellished — 

Irtflammatoiy cartoon printed in the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) ^Independent Monitor,^ 
September /, iS68. Tlie editor of the ^Monitor* was RyUmd Randolphy Grand Cyclops 
of the Ku Klux Klan in Tuscaloosa, 

Carpetbaggers are told what is in store for them — 


i U 



.{ f^fi. n. f. 




.4 threatening letter^ signed ^Ku Klux Klan^ sent to Thaddeus Stevens in 1868; 
probably the work of some crank or prankster^ as it differs from the type of warning 
used in the South. It will be noted that although the letter was dated in New Orleans 
it was actually mailed and postmarked in Washington, {Photostat from Labrary of 

Thaddeus Stevens himself gets a warning 


The appointed day an»J houi hiII s;mmi <-ome!' Fail no^-— . ^ 

& if rhou dost . . , ,. >'^^:2^i:*jTJi'- ^ 

At ni{;ht wfieii the clock strikes . I i; i. be ye- faitliful 
unto your trust — nor wind, nor hail, nor rain, nor storm. 
nor conjjoience, nor craven fear, shall excuse. 

Dost Hear! Dost Heed! 

i'hiis now do I call, and yet ONCE AGAIN, and if ve heed 

CYCLOPEAN. Secretary. 
By ordor of the GRAND CLYCOPSi: 

A rare Ku Klux broadside warning, printed and posted in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 
{Courtesy of Edward Eberstadt, New York City, N.T.) 

The work of the Klan goes on — 



The 'Ku Klitx Klan WaitZi* published in Nashville in 1868, authorship attributed to 
*Gustavus Dolfuss.* The lurid illustrationy printed in red ink, gives a good idea of 
the popular conception of Ku Klux proceedings at the time. {From the collection of 
Kenneth RosCy Nashville , Tennessee.) 

Even song writers play on the morbid interest in its name — 

Illustration from a broadside said to represent the trial and near-execution of one John 
Campbell of Big Poplar, North Carolina. It was stated that the proceedings were 
interrupted and the whole party of Ku Klux arrested, this woodcut being made from 
a posed photograph taken later, using the captured regalia. {Courtesy of Edward 
Eberstadt, New York City, NT.) 

While Northern editors print their ideas of its murderous 
activities — 



TnousAm)s yearly. 

WIeles' llelee(l« ®ll. 

Makes titouaands of homes happy » because 
U is safe, briliiant and od&rless. 


120 Maiden Zane, iV. Y. 

From ^Harper's Weekly," January 6th, 1872. 

Finally, after the true Ku Klux Klan had dissolved, merchants 
used its dread initials to call attention to their wares — 

Uniform of one of the officiab of the Pulaski^ Tennessee, Den No. i, of the Ku Klux 
Klany now in the museum of the State Teachers College, Flofence, Alabama. The robe 
is red, with white trimming, and is made of calico. The cap is flannel, with trimmings 
of white calico around the mouth and eyes. 

Its brief life over, the Klan becomes a museum curiosity. 


The Growth of the Empire 



[ )^^x>Yf^ClJVJ {J^ ttttfttmp iir i lii TCT'm (1 w\\ iniilpsp rffl'^ 

s peculat ion as to its a tigiiXy-~and-4hefe-M^efe~4naRy:^ theQiies_adLr 
vanced — most of them far from the mark. Aside from the wild 
guesses_proceeding out of pure ignorance, the problem was 
complicated by the repetition of absurd and misleading stories- 
deliberately put in circulation by the Ku Klux themselves for 
the purpose of throwing inquisitive people off the track. Many 
a Ku Klux herring was drawn across the trail as investigators 
ran around in circles. One Northern newspaper carried a story 
from an 'authoritative' source revealing the alleged fact that 
the Ku Klux Klan was organized in New York City 'by well- 
known Conservatives from Tennessee.' One imaginative editor 
even went so far as to charge that the Klan was headed by no 
less a personage than President Andrew Johnson; and there were 
numerous other equally erroneous guesses and speculations 
from time to time. One newspaper stated that it had been 
started by the Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island during 
the war; but this was a muddled confusion with the secret 
society which was actually formed there, known as the 'Seven 
Confederate Knights.' This short-lived and fruitless organiza- 
tion had a skull and crossbones for its insignia; but it had no 
connection whatever with the Ku Klux Klan. 
What was evidently a dehberately misleading and jocular 

8 Invisible Empire 

explanation of the origin of the new order's fantastic name was 
embodied in an article appearing in the Memphis Appeal which, 
without cracking an editorial smile, said: *"Ku Klux Klan" is 
a Hebrew term; and, if not found in the Talmud, is met with 
in a very old Jewish work entitled "A True and Authentic 
History of the Great Rebellion of the Hebrew Against the 
Ancient Egyptian King Pharaoh, B.C. 2000." In this work the 
orthography is thus: "Cu-Glux Clan," and is interpreted in the 
English language the "Straw Club," which is supposed to al- 
lude to the fact that Pharaoh required the hod-carriers to 
furnish their own straw, and also to the proverb, known to be 
of ancient Hebrew origin, "Straws show which way the wind 
blows." ' 

Perhaps the most ridiculous of all these current newspaper 
'exposures' of the order's origin was one printed in the Rich- 
mond Whig early in 1868. This story, most probably inspired 
by some mischievous member of the Ku Klux himself, at- 
tributed to the organization an Oriental origin! *The name,' 
said this article gravely, *is not of American origin nor the whim 
of a wag; but, like the order itself, originated in China among 
the merchants engaged in smuggling opium into that Empire. 
It was introduced into America by Hon. Humphrey Marshall 
on his return from the Celestials. Marshall organized the first 
band in Room 94, Brown's Hotel, Richmond, intending it for 
a sort of hilarious social club. There are now 4000 Ku Kluxes 
in Richmond, and 700 more waiting admission. Each hundred 
has a captain, each fifty a lieutenant, and each twenty a 
sergeant. Only able-bodied white men are admitted, and all 
must be of manly stature.' 

The outline of the plan of organization was suspiciously close 
to the facts; but the estimate of 4000 members in Richmond 
was probably a gross exaggeration and intended merely to 
inspire fear on the part of credulous readers. The attribution 
of Oriental origin was entirely imaginary. As a matter of fact, 


' The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 9 V 

however, the Ku Klux Klan did originate as a ^hilarious social 
club,' although the place where it was conceived was far away 
from Richmond or China and neither Humphrey Marshall nor 
the opium smugglers had anything to do with it. Its entirely 
aimless and innocent beginning grew out of nothing more 
sinister than the ennui and idleness of six young men who lived 
in Pulaski, Tennessee, a short distance south of NashviUe. 
Captain John C. Lester, Captain John B. Kennedy, Captain 
James R. Crowe, Frank O. McCord, Richard R. Reed and 

J. Calvin Jones. They were all men of the highest standing in ., 

their community, with unblemished records for good behavior. 
Most of them were college graduates, and none of them at any 
time was ever accused of any offense against the law of even 
the mildest sort. It is significant of their impeccable reputations 
for good conduct that when the Ku Klux investigation was held 
by the government a few years later none of them was sum- 
moned for examination by the inquisitors. 

These six young men had all been in the Confederate army, 
and after they got back home and while they were adjusting 
themselves to the new conditions of life, time hung heavy on 
their hands. On an evening late in December, 1865, they were 
sitting around the fireplace in the law office of Calvin Jones's 
father. Judge Thomas M. Jones, idly discussing the dearth of 
amusements and possible ways and means of supplying the lack. 
As might naturally be expected under such circumstances, , 
somebody suggested that a club or society of some sort be 
formed. This idea met with general approval, and after some 
discussion they dispersed to meet again in the same place the 
next evening. At that time a loose sort of temporary organiza- . 
tion was formed, a chairman and secretary were elected, and 
committees were appointed to select a name and to draw up a 
set of rules and a ritual for t>ie initiation of members, agreement _^ 
being m 

Dur' opened that one of the 

lo Invisible Empire 

prominent residents of Pulaski, Colonel Thomas Martin, went 
on a trip to Columbus, Mississippi, taking his family with him, 
and he asked Captain Kennedy to sleep in the house during his 
absence to protect it from possible marauders. This circum- 
stance provided the budding young society with an ideal secret 
place for the carrying out of their plans, and Captain Kennedy 
arranged for the next meeting to be held there. The organiza- 
tion was perfected in Colonel Martin's house and all of its 
earliest meetings were held there; but it is stated in Pulaski that 
Colonel Martin upon his return from Mississippi was not in- 
formed of what had been going on in his house during his 
absence and that he died without knowing that his home had 
been the birthplace of this history-making organization. 

The objects of the new society being purely amusement and 
I relaxation, all of the original plans and arrangements were de- 
\ cidedly on the burlesque and grotesque side. The names of the 
officers, as specified in the report of the rules committee, were 
unusual and unique, the prime consideration being to get as 
far as possible away from familiar military or political titles. 
The meeting place was to be known as a 'Den,' and the chief 
officer of the Den was to be called the 'Grand Cyclops.' The 
officer corresponding to vice president, the assistant of the 
Grand Cyclops, was the 'Grand Magi' ; and there was a 'Grand 
Turk' who was to greet all candidates for admission. The 
secretary was the 'Grand Scribe'; and there were two 'Night 
Hawks' who acted as messengers and two 'Lictors' who con- 
stituted the guard. The members in the ranks, not holding 
office, were to be designated as 'Ghouls' — although at first 
there were not quite enough members to fill all the specified 
offices and everybody had a resounding title. The titles had no 
meaning or significance, being selected arbitrarily and solely 
for their weird and supposedly imr-ressive sound. It was just 
another local secret soci^ looking 

for an outlet for their v ' been 

The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 1 1 

formed hundreds of times in the past without any particular 
purpose. In all probability it would endure but a short time 

\ until the attention of the members was directed along other 

Aside from the condition of affairs and other factors involved 
th£ thing that caused the new organization to attract attention^ 
and later to spread beyond any dream of its organizers was un- 
questionably the impression created and the curiosity aroused 
by its mysterious, sonorous name. It was the kind of name 
people liked to repeat, just to hear the sound of its sinister syl- 
lables. Even the initials, in their alHterative attractiveness, 
were an asset. But this wonderful name was also solely a matter 
of chance. 

When the organization meeting was held in Colonel Martin's 
home, the committee appointed to select a name reported that 
it had not been able to agree on a recommendation. They 
wanted something distinctive, something different from the, 
*Merry Six' or the names so tritely familiar as the entitiement 
of such organizations. That was a time when every educated 
young man's training embraced the study of Latin and Greek, 
also it was when the Greek letter fraternities were enjoying 
their first popularity in the colleges. So, as they sat around arid 
cudgeled their brains for a suitable but unusual name for their 
new club, it is not surprising that some one of them should turn 
his thoughts to the Greek vocabulary. Finally Richard Reed 

^suggested that they call it the Kuklos, from the Greek wordV, 
Ku/cXos, from which our words 'circle' and 'cycle' are derived;^' 
and this suggestion met with immediate approval. They repeated 
the word over a few times; and Captain Kennedy, having an 
ear for alliteration, suggested that they introduce another *K' / 
sound in the name by adding the word 'clan.' The alliterative' 
sound was further improved by changing Kuklos Clan to-jj- 
Kuklux Klan; and from this it was later but a natural step to 
the now famihar style, Ku Klux Klan, with the impressive in- 


12 Invisible Empire 

itials, K.K.K., which were to develop such a terrifying signifi- 
cance within such a short while. This is the story of the origin 
of the name as told by surviving charter members; and its 
authenticity seems beyond question. 

That the use of this particular Greek word in this connection 
was not entirely unprecedented is indicated by the testimony 
before the Congressional Committee of Daniel Coleman of 
Athens, Alabama (strongly suspected of being a Ku Klux 
leader there), who stated that he was first led to look into the 
Ku Klux organization by reason of the similarity of its name 
to the name of a society to which he belonged when he went 
to college — the KvkXos Society. 

In some of the articles about the Ku Klux which were printed 
in the North it was stated that the name 'Ku Klux Klan' was 
derived from a supposed similarity to the noise made in cocking 
and discharging a firearm. In the words of one writer, who 
signed himself 'Carpet Bagger': 'The name "Ku Klux Klan" 
is said to have been suggested to them [the organizers] by the 
sound made in the act of cocking and firing the rifles and shot- 
guns carried by them — the first two syllables being repeated 
in a subdued tone of voice, as "Ku Klux," representing the 
cocking of the piece; while the last syllable, "AYaw," being 
repeated with emphasis, betokened its discharge.* 

This fanciful and far-fetched yarn was probably told the 
gullible Mr. Carpet Bagger by some of the Carolina members 
of the Klan with whom he came in contact, as it was a part of 
the Ku Klux technique to surround all their activities with as 
much blood-and-thunder mumbo-jumbo as possible and paint 
in just as lurid a background of suggested terror as the credulity 
of the hearer would admit. The gun-cocking story sounded in 
character and people liked to believe it; and so it gained con- 
siderable credence. It made a good story; but, like so many 
good stories, it was totally lacking in factual foundation. Long 
years afterwards, however, this baseless theory was given wide 

The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 13 

circulation when it was repeated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
in his famous story of the Ku Klux, The Five Orange Pips.' 
Another ingenious theory as to the origin of the name was 
advanced by Mr. W. B. Romine, now editor of the Pulaski 
Citizen, in an interview in a Nashville paper in 1934. Mr. 
Romine, recalling the large number of volunteer troops who 
went to the Mexican War from Tennessee, says it is not un- 
reasonable to assume that some of these soldiers during their 
sojourn in Mexico may have become famihar with Mexican 
mythology. Significantly, he says, the god of light in ancient 
Mexico was called Gukulcan, and he goes on: *The fact that 
members of the Ku Klux occasionally referred to themselves 
as "sons of light" suggests the idea that some of them may have 
learned the story of Gukulcan from their fathers or uncles who 
were soldiers in Mexico, and with slight changes created a 
word which admirably served their purposes.' 

Bubbling over with the excitement of their ^ew-found play- 
thing, the young members of the new Ku Klux Klan decide 
to make a public manifestation of themselves; so, borrowing th 
familiar idea of the easy Hallowe'en disguise, they wrapped 
themselves in sheets, mounted their horses and galloped through 
the streets of the Httle town, greatly enjoying the sensation they .. 
created — particularly the alarm and dismay of the negroes, 
to whose superstitious minds the sight of white-sheeted figures 
suggested nothing but spirits risen from the grave, and who 
accordingly fled to their homes in panic-stricken terror. 

The succ^sful effect of this entirely fortuitous costume was 
so satisfactory that it was adopted as the official regalia of the 
order, and each member was required to provide himself with 
a suitable robe and mask and head-dress, the latter being built 
up of cardboard and designed to add to the apparent height 
of the wearer. 'It looked like he had an up-turned churn on 
his head,' one witness said in describing the appearance of one 
of the sheeted band. 


14 Invisible Empire 

The organizers of the new society were out for fun, but it was 
fun of an innocent and harmless variety they had in mind; and 
one of the original requirements of new members was that they 
be of good character and standing and not addicted to the in- 
temperate use of intoxicants. The only other requirement of 
members at that time was a blood-curdling pledge of secrecy — 
not that there was anything in particular to conceal aside from 
the details of the elaborate horse-play of the initiation cere- 
monies, but it was felt that the edge of the fun would be blunted 
if the initiate had any inkling of what was going to happen. 
Then, too, the idea of secrecy carried an undertone of mysteri- 
ous things to come which was very attractive and made it pos- 
sible for the imagination of the new members to conjure up 
some serious, important objective which was entirely lacking 
in reality. 

The perpetration of the initiation was really the principal 
object of the order at first. Most of the organizers had attended 
college and were familiar with the boisterous and elaborate 
flummery which for so long has made college secret societies 
and fraternities attractive to young men, and most of the origi- 
nal Ku Klux initiation was borrowed from this source. An idea 
of the schoolboyish nature of the proceedings in those early days 
of the Ku Klux may be had from a glimpse of the climax of the 
initiation which, in later years, was revealed by some of the 
aging members. 

The preliminaries consisted of leading the blindfolded candi- 
date around from one officer to another, where he was heaped 
with solemn admonitions and subjected to the rough buffoonery 
common to such proceedings. The big moment came when the 
Grand Cyclops in a deep voice gave the order: 'Let his head be 
adorned with the regal crown, after which place him before 
the royal altar and remove his hoodwink.' The regal crown 
was an oversized hat ornamented with two donkey's ears, and 
the royal altar was a large mirror. When the candidate's blind- 

The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 15 

fold was removed and he beheld his ridiculous image in the 
glass before him he was greeted with howls of laughter and 
derision. This was the climax. It sounds silly now, but it pro- 
voked great merriment among the young Ku Kluxes of 1866; 
and every initiate was glad to observe his pledge of secrecy so 
that he might help enjoy the next victim's discomfiture. 

As the order grew in popularity and gained in membership 
it was soon necessary to find a new meeting place, and one 
had been providentially prepared by Nature which ideally 
suited their purposes. On the top of a hill on the western out- 
skirts of the town there stood the ruins of the home formerly 
occupied by Doctor Benjamin Carter. This house had been 
demolished by a cyclone in December, and there remained 
only a wing of three rooms, with a cellar beneath. The grove 
surrounding the house had also suffered in the cyclone, and the 
house was almost obscured from view by the fallen trees and 
broken branches, the surviving wing being covered over with 
the debris from the demolished part. On the whole it presented 
a most satisfactory spooky and eerie appearance and, inevitably, 
immediately acquired the reputation of being haunted. It was 
just the place for the home den of a group of white-robed, night- 
riding horsemen whose principal stock in trade was mystery — 
and the new Ku Klux Klan quickly and gleefully adopted it 
as their headquarters. 

One strict rule of the society from the first was itot nobody 
should be solicited to join. They wanted new members, of 
course, since \mhoiitnew members there could be no initiation; 
but it was thought that a mysterious air of reserve would best 
attract candidates for admission, and there was always the 
desire to be able to say to any malcontent that his membership 
had not been sought but that he had applied voluntarily. In 
instances where the membership of some particularly desirable 
person was sought, it was customary to solicit him by indirec- 
tion. A member would engage him in conversation and bring 

1 6 Invisible Empire 

the talk around to the subject of the Ku Klux. Finally, in a 
burst of confidence, he would say: *It looks to me like a good 
thing, and I've about made up my mind to join it.' If this 
admission provoked the other to the expression of a desire to 
join the Klan, the member would confide that he had investi- 
gated the matter to a point where he had learned how to go 
about joining, and he would suggest that they meet at a given 
place at a specified time and they would join together. Ap- 
proaching the den in the blasted Carter house they would be 
met by the outer Lictor, brandishing the spear of his office, 
and after questioning them this Lictor would blow his whistle 
as a signal to the inner Lictor to come out and receive the 
candidates. When the genuine candidate was blindfolded, he 
thought that his companion was receiving like treatment, and 
he learned no better until the initiation ceremony was at 
an end. 

Undesirable candidates for admission received treatment of 
different kinds — all effective. The ordinary means of subtly 
hinting to a young man that he was not wanted in the Klan 
was by means of the old 'snipe-hunting' dodge. He was blind- 
folded and with great ceremony conducted to some remote 
place in the woods and seated upon a convenient stump or 
log and told to wait there until he was called. He was, of 
course, never called; and, after so long a time, it generally 
dawned on him that his application for membership had been 
delicately but definitely rejected. If an applicant for admission 
was suspected of ulterior purposes, or thought to be entering 
the order merely to learn its secrets, he was treated a little 
more roughly. Such as these were generally stuffed into a 
barrel and rolled down a long hill, their discomfiture being 
equaled only by the merriment of the howling young Klansmen. 

In later times, when the Klan had assumed more serious 
objectives and its members had been proscribed by the Brown- 
low government in Tennessee, the intrusion of a spy was a 

The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 17 

matter of life and death, and suspects were treated more rigor- 
ously. One such applicant, whose true identity and purpose 
were known, was received with every appearance of cordiality 
and led to believe that he would be initiated. But, after being 
bhndfolded, he was taken to the woods and strung up to the 
limb of a tree with his feet barely touching the ground, from 
which uncomfortable predicament he was not rescued until 
the next morning. ^ 

The fate of another who did not escape so lightly was told ^ 
in a Nashville newspaper in 1868: 'One bold fellow in the 
service of Governor Brownlow proposed to join the Ku Klux 
in order to discover their secrets. He was encouraged to believe 
he would be received, and was taken to the appointed meeting 
place where he was beguiled with soothing words and then 
taken to the woods where he was stripped of his clothing and 
shamelessly mutilated. In this shocking condition he was dis- 
missed weak and bleeding, and told to report to Governor 
Brownlow that he had been initiated in the first degree of the 
Ku Klux Klan. The fiends knew his business as well 2is he 
did, and he gained not the slightest knowledge of them.' 

Another Brownlow spy who tried to get into the Nashville 
Den was given the barrel-down-the-hill treatment, with one 
important difference from the Pulaski procedure. In the 
Nashville episode the barrel was rolled down the wharf into 
the Cumberland River, and the Klansmen were in such a 
hurry to get somewhere else that they neglected to stay and 
rescue him from the river's muddy depths. 

But these acts of defensive violence did not come until later, 
in 1868 and 1869. In those early days of 1866 there was no 
thought of violence, no need to fear the state authorities. 
Everything was innocent and harmless. Passing negroes might 
be frightened at the sepulchral appearance of the ghostly 
Lictor who stood by the side of the road at the gate of the 
driveway leading to the old Carter place; they might be terri- 

1 8 Invisible Empire 

fied by the flickering lights to be seen in the shattered and 
deserted house on the hill or hastened on their way at night 
by the shrieks of unearthly laughter which reverberated through 
the storm-stricken grove — but this was merely a by-product 
of the Ku Klux activities, not their original purpose. 

Even though this had not been its purpose, however, the 
terror created among the negroes by the new and mysterious 
Ku Klux Klan soon began to create talk. It was noticed that 
prowling freedmen who encountered the ghostly horsemen at 
night were afterwards more inclined to stay at home after 
dark; and this gave birth to the idea that perhaps the Klan 
might be used as a means of subduing the undue bumptious- 
ness and the nocturnal prowlings of some of those who seemed 
incapable of using their new-found freedom discreetly. Parties 
of Klansmen took to calling on such recalcitrants occasionally 
in the dead hours of the night, taking full advantage of their 
victims' superstition to give weight to their warnings. 

At this stage of the Klan's development its visits were purely 
admonitory. Sometimes, when visiting a victim, they did not 
utter a word, trusting to the negro's superstitious fear to accom- 
plish the desired result. Sometimes there were terrifying 
threats of what would happen to the offending negro if he 
did not behave himself. But they relied on threats and fear 
alone to do their work; and fear, superinduced by superstition, 
was at first sufficient. At this stage the barking Ku Klux dog 
did not bite. It was not until later that his victims felt his teeth. 

The white-robed Lictor before the Carter house had been 
accustomed to telling passing strangers who inquired as to 
his identity that he was the spirit of a Confederate soldier killed 
at Chickamauga. Pretty soon the Ku Klux were being referred 
to generally as the *ghosts of the Confederate dead,' and a 
negro preacher in Tennessee electrified his congregation by 
telling them that he had seen one of the spirits rise from the 
grave of a murdered Confederate soldier who was buried near 

The Origin of the Ku Klux Klan 19 ^^ 


his church. As a matter of fact, there might have been some 
basis for this fantastic story, as graveyards were a favorite 
meeting place for rural Ku Klux, the old-fashioned box tombs 
providing an ideal hiding place for their regalia. 

The theory that the Ku Klux were Confederate ghosts was 
readily accepted by the negroes generally as being entirely 
reasonable and credible, and when the Klansmen started to 
making moonlight visits of a regulatory nature they took their 
cue from this. The leader of the Klansmen would tell the 
negro visited, in a hollow voice, that he was thirsty and wanted 
a drink. When the negro brought out the water bucket and 
drinking gourd, the thirsty Ku Klux would cast aside the 
inadequate gourd and, raising the bucket to his Ups, to the 
pop-eyed astonishment of the negro, would drain it to the last 
drop — with the assistance of a funnel inside his mask connected 
by a rubber tube to an oilcloth bag under the flowing robe. 

'That's good,' he would say, smacking his lips. 'That's the 
first drink I've had since I was killed at the Battle of Shiloh; / 
and you get mighty thirsty down in Hell.' This became the 
favorite and standard joke of the Ku Klux everywhere during ^ 
those early days; it was almost the hall-mark of a Ku Klux 
raid — none genuine without it. 

V Another awe-inspiring performance was for one of the 
Ku Klux to wear his robe over the top of his head, surmounted 
with a false head (consisting generally of a large gourd with 
a mask attached) which could be removed in the negro's 
presence. 'Here, hold my head a minute,' the Klansman 
would say, thrusting the masked gourd at the negro, which 
never failed to reduce the victim to a state of quaking terror. 
Sometimes one of the sheeted riders would insist on shaking 
hands with all the negroes he met, the hand he extended them 
in greeting being made of wood in simulation of a skeleton's. 
'Have you got a mattock?' one Mississippi negro was asked by 
one of the ghostly visitors. 'My head-stone is so close to my 

20 Invisible Empire 

head I can't rest good in my grave, and I want you to come 
to the graveyard with me and move it.' 

But all this innocent frolic and horse-play on the part of a 
few small-town youths constituted merely the first stage in the 
existence of the Ku Klux Klan. Its fame began to spread 
beyond the bounds of Pulaski. As the supply of local member- 
ship material ran out, visitors were initiated into the mysteri- 
ous order; and when they went home they talked about it 
and frequently started similar groups in their own localities. 
Trouble with obstreperous negroes was prevalent throughout 
the South, and the white population was acutely conscious of 
the need for some means of correcting this evil. The effective- 
ness of the Ku Klux as a medium for the pacification of the 
lawless element among the negroes in the Pulaski neighborhood 
began to attract attention, and the citizens of near-by counties 
and states began to make inquiry as to how they could set up 
Klans of their own to handle their local problems. 

Through the fall of 1866 and the winter of 1866-67 the Ku 
Klux Klan outgrew the confines of Pulaski and Giles County. 
Also it began to take on a more serious purpose wherever it 
had been established. It had grown out of its swaddhng clothes 
and, almost before its organizers realized what was happening, 
they found it on the eve of branching out as a force of regulation 
which was to affect the destiny of the whole South. Pulaski, 
however, remained the nerve-center of the Ku Klux move- 
ment. Here was dropped into the pool the pebble whose 
ripples spread so far. 





the Ku Klux Klan was steady; but it was also irregular, un- 
directed and altogether undisciplined. As the organization 
spread, all the new Dens owned a sort of loose, informal 
allegiance to the parent Den at Pulaski; but there was no 
official, constituted authority vested in anyone, no recognized 
rules or regulations — nothing but a common governing idea 
that the Klan could be used as a sort of mysterious and effective 
vigilance committee, depending mostly upon its mystery for 
its effectiveness. It had no definite program ana, worst of all, 
no machinery for regulating itself. The activities of each new 
Den were dependent entirely upon the incHnation of the 
members. If they committed excesses, there was no power to 
rebuke or restrain them. Thus it drifted along for a year or 
more, new Ku Klux dens springing up here and there, with 
nobody in authority to guide or control them. 

One of the factors contributing to the spread of the order 
was the abundant newspaper publicity. The editor of the 
Pulaski Citizen was the Grand Geni of the local Den, and 
although there was not a word about the Ku Klux in his paper 
for several months after its inception, the Citizen published 
frequent notices during 1867 telling of the wonderful doings 
of the mysterious new order that had sprung up in Giles 

22 Invisible Empire 

County — all as hearsay, of course: the editor knew nothing 
about it himself. *What Does it Mean?' was the heading over 
an item in the issue of March 29 — which was, by the way, the 
first newspaper reference to the Ku Klux ever to appear in 
print. *The following mysterious "Take Notice" was found 
under our door early yesterday morning,' the article stated, 
'having doubtless been slipped there the night previous. Will 
anyone venture to tell us what it means, if it means anything 
at all? What is a "Kuklux Klan," and who is this "Grand 
Cyclops" that issues his mysterious and imperative orders? 
Can anyone give us any light on the subject? Here is the order': 

TAKE NOTICE. — The Kuklux Klan wiU assemble 
at their usual place of rendezvous 'The Den,' on Tuesday 
night next, exactly at the hour of midnight, in costume 
and bearing the arms of the Klan. 

By order of the Grand Cyclops. 

G. T. 

Once begun, the publicity continued without abatement, 
and in the next issue of the Citizen appeared another notice 
headed 'Kuklux Klan' in which it was stated that another 
mysterious communication had been received from the Grand 
Cyclops, which it proceeded to print: 

EDITOR OF THE CITIZEN: — You seem to express, in 
your last issue, some surprise and curiosity in regard to the 
Kuklux Klan, whose boldness and effrontery should so startle 
you. That they should dare send forth their imperial edicts; 
or that the GRAND CYCLOPS should presume to dispatch 
his Grand Turk with orders to his faithful followers, or that 
they should dare come so near your editorial sanctum as to 
leave one of their orders under your door. Now, sir, it is not 
to be wondered at that you should express feelings of astonish- 

The Growth of the Klan 23 

ment that after night has spread her dark drapery over this sin- 
ful earth, when balmy sleep should enfold in her loving embrace 
all who have a clear conscience, and when all earth's innocent 
creatures should be enjoying happy dreams, and the hideous 
fiends of darkness and night are holding high carnival over a 
world that is all their own. We say, sir, that we do not wonder 
that you, together with this community, should express surprise 
at this; and we are not offended at your astonishment. 

But seek not to know the object and designs of our 'Mystic 
Klan' or to impeach the authority of our Grand Cyclops to 
issue his mandates, for your efforts will be fruitless. If you see 
proper to publish our orders, and will do so, we thank you; but 
more of the Kuklux Klan you cannot know. 

By order of the Klan. G. S. 

In the next issue of the Citizen this notice appeared: 

The Grand Turk will assemble the Klan at the Den, 
precisely at half past nine on Saturday night next. He 
will see that none come or be admitted without their 
costume, arms, etc. The Grand Bugler will not sound the 
'assembly,' but the members will come simply from the 
notification of the Grand Turk. 

By order of the Grand Cyclops. 

G. S. 

The appearance of these notices in the Pulaski paper created 
a buzz of comment in the little town, but everybody professed 
profound ignorance of the Ku Klux. Encouraged by the stir 
created by the appearance of the notices in his paper, the editor- 
Geni in his next issue printed a communication alleged to have 
been delivered him by a mysterious robed stranger. This letter 
was dated at 'Rendezvous No. 2; April 17th, 1867,' and said: 

24 Invisible Empire 

'"The public" seems not to comprehend or appreciate the 
high-toned objects and designs of the "Kuklux Klan," and are 
disposed to associate it v/ith things vile and corrupt, mean and 
low. "The public" should not too hastily jump at conclusions 
at this particular time. Condemn not the object until you are 
sure it deserves condemnation. True, we hold our meetings in 
secret places. We have our reasons for that; and we have our 
secrets, signs, costumes, and mystic rights, and we entrust those 
to faithful breasts only. We have our reasons for that and, 
doubtless, "the public" can appreciate the importance of the 
Klan pursuing such a course. 

'This is no joke either. This is cold, hard, earnest. Time 
will fully develop the objects of the "Kuklux Klan." Until 
such a development takes place, "the public" will please be 

These 'communications' — really the official orders of the 
Grand Cyclops to the local Klansmen — were printed regularly 
in the Pulaski paper throughout the year. One notice enjoined 
the members to be prompt in assembling at the meeting on the 
following Saturday night, as the Cyclops was 'unwilling to en- 
croach on the Holy Sabbath by transacting business after 12 

o'clock.' In one notice dated from the 'Rendezvous in the 


Forest' it was stated that on account of the growth in member- 
ship it was necessary to abandon the former place of meeting 
(probably Colonel Martin's house) and that future meetings 
would be held at the forest rendezvous. Later notices were 
dated 'Rendezvous Under the Hill'; and still later, after moving 
into the blasted Carter house, notices were headed 'Den in the 
Ruins.' In May a notice was printed saying: 'The Klan will 
assemble at the "Den in the Fallen Forest" at the usual hour on 
Saturday night next, in full Klan costume and equipage, to 
meet the representatives of neighboring Klans from Elkton, 
Lynnville, Columbia and Franklin, and for the transaction of 
other important business.' 

The Growth of the Klan 25 

All this propaganda in the Pulaski paper was eagerly reprinted 
in other papers throughout the state and elsewhere, as evi- 
dence of some new and mysterious power astir, and editorial 
comments began to blossom out. Some of those who wrote about 
the Klan professed to consider it all a joke: others treated it 
seriously as a powerful and sinister force for evil which should 
be stamped out. Other friendly papers emphasized its benevo- 
lent purposes and deeds, one of them printing a story of how the 
I Ku Klux visited the home of a poor widow there whose two 
sons had fallen in the Confederate service, leaving on her door- 
step a package containing a generous purse of money and a 
supply of groceries and dry goods. But, however they treated it, 
the continued newspaper comment kept the public's interest 
aUve, and encouraged the establishment of other Klans. 

Throughout the early part of 1867 the Ku Klux began to 
attract public attention as the foremost topic of discussion. 
In fact, so much interest was manifested in the new and myste- 
rious order and so many people indicated a desire to form local 
chapters, that the Pulaski Citizen finally carried the following 
advertisement for the order in the shape of an editorial: 

'In answer to numerous correspondents from far and near, 
making inquiries of us in regard to the Ku Klux and how they 
must proceed to obtain a charter, we make the general reply 
that we can not give them any information positively, but we 
suggest to them that perhaps similar inquiries made through 
the post-office of the Great Grand Cyclops, who it is said makes 
his headquarters here, might receive a more satisfactory reply. 
We don't know how he would get the communications, as no 
one pretends to know who he is; but, after reading the numerous 
accounts of the wonderful things performed by the Ku Klux, 
we begin to believe that there are very few things impossible 
with them.' 

Aside from all this free advertising, another reason for the 
instantaneous popularity of the new secret society was that 

26 Invisible Empire 

it promised to fill what was coming to be recognized as a 
deeply felt need. This was the time of the development and 
growth of the secret organization among the negroes of the 
South known as the Union League or the Loyal League. This 
was a totally unrestrained and disorderly form of group ac- 
tivity in its Southern manifestation, used by low-grade white 
men as an instrumentality for organizing the negroes politically 
and keeping them unified by a steady infusion of inflammatory 
propaganda by imported flannel-mouthed orators. They were 
drilled in a formal catechism which taught them to hate and 
mistrust their former white friends. Bands of League members, 
armed to the teeth, prowled the country at all times, particu- 
larly at night, and the white people were increasingly terrified. 
Writing in later years, one of the negro leaders of that time 
frankly said: 'The fears of the whites with reference to these 
Leagues was well founded, for the men who controlled them 
had really nothing in view but public plunder.'/ 

The part played by the Loyal Leagues and similar organiza- 
tions in provoking the Southern people to defensive expedients 
was recognized by fair-minded Northern newspapers, and 
when in April, 1 868, General Meade issued an order of sup- 
pression directed at the Ku Klux, the New York Herald com- 
mented: 'The order of General Meade providing for the sup- 
pression of the Ku Klux Klan will meet with the approval of 
all who espouse the cause of order and good government. 
But the General must not exercise his power on that organiza- 
tion alone. He must rigorously suppress the secret "Loyal 
Leagues" of negroes; for they are equally, if not more, per- 
nicious in their influence than the white men's society. The 
arrogance of the negroes and their attempt to reduce the 
whites of the South to political vassalage by means of their 
"Loyal Leagues," and the many other outrages that have 
been committed by these same Leagues, are equally as danger- 
ous to the peace and safety of society as are the retaliatory 
actions of the Ku Klux Klan.' 

The Growth of the Klan 27 

An Alabama paper in an editorial denouncing the Loyal 
^ League said: *The League is nothing more than a nigger Ku 
Klux Klan'; going on to say: 'Of course we deprecate the ap- 
pearance of ghosts in Tuscaloosa. But if Loyal Leagues con- 
tinue, and negroes insist upon being insolent, we fear that 
some Grand Cyclops or other chief among the Ku Klux may 
visit our quiet community and put things in a topsy-turvy 
condition. Let Captain Heitburg break up the League and 
thus remove all temptation from the Kluxes to come here.' 
As the author of this editorial was himself an officer of the 
Ku Klux Klan/it provides further evidence that the negroes' 
Loyal League was a primary cause for the white men's Ku 
Klux Klan. v^^^^Jv^JiX-^dtu^ 

Aside from the menacing threat created by the setting up * 

of these secret organizations of armed, irresponsible negroes, 
jf there were enough actual overt acts to convince the white 
jL citizens that their fears were by no means groundless. It was 
l^ the usual practice for the Leagues, when they held their meet- 
ings, to throw out armed pickets in all directions about the 
building in which the meeting was being held, and they would 
not permit travelers and passers-by to walk in the road in 
front of the building. In Gainesville, Alabama, when some of 
the white people indignantly protested against such high- 
handed treatment, the negroes replied that 'they had the 
charter from the government at Washington, right direct, 
and they had the right to guard and they intended to do so.' 
As one of the residents later said:|The negroes acted here just 
like an invading army after they had conquered everything 
and were going rough-shod over everything. They thought 
they were the big dogs in the ring^ r- ^ - -^ Vc c^i^fO^f rx 

The importance of the psychology of the times cannot be 
overemphasized. Deeply rooted in the mind of everyresident 
of the slave states was the latent fear of negro insurrection and[ 
race war. It was the "chronic Southern nightmare. The bloody ' 

28 Invisible Empire 

history of San Domingo was constantly in the white man's 
mind. He felt that he was living on a smoldering volcano of 
racial animosity; and he had an inherent fear of negro insur- 
rection that was almost pathological. The sight of armed 
negroes meeting in secret conclaves filled him with a shuddering 
fear; and the thought of his own defenselessness was terrifying 
to him, especially when he thought of his wife and his children. 
Even so prejudiced an observer as the carpetbagger Judge 
Tourgee said: 'There is no doubt but this feeling, taken in 
connection with the enfranchisement of the blacks, induced 
thousands of good citizens to ally themselves with the Ku Klux 
upon the idea that they were acting in self-defense in so doing, 
and especially that they were securing the safety of their 
wives and children thereby.' 

The newly freed negroes at that time were fond of repeating 
exultingly the old rural saying: 'The bottom rail's on top.' 
The white men remembered and were guided by the principle 
of another classic rustic aphorism of the South: 'Whenever two 
men are riding the same mule, one of them has got to ride 
in front.' The white people found themselves mounted on the 
mule with the negro; they meant to make it plain to him that 
they were going to ride in front. 

Aside from the physical menace of the armed and truculent 
negroes, the principal grievance of the Southern people at this 
time was the quality of the office-holders under whose rule 
they were forced to live without having a voice in their selection. 
The almost unbelievable ignorance and incompetency of some 
of the negro officials foisted onto the people by the Reconstruc- 
tion regime was well illustrated by a specimen of a release written 
by a North Carolina deputy United States marshal which was 
introduced in the testimony of one of the witnesses appearing 
before the committee in that state: 

The Growth of the Klan 29 

Linconton November the 2 day 1871 
This is to surtifi that John Doe was Rain By Mea Beefore the 
u. s. comishner R. P. Vest at the coat Hous at Lincoton of 
Bein Berlongin to the inviserl Emphire and was Dischard of the 
vilatin of the act of Congress charged in the With in Warrant. 
This 2 day of November, 1871. 

Thomas W. Womble, D. P. Marshall. 

It was asserted that these 'indulgences' were for sale at the 
time at prices ranging from five to ten dollars, depending on 
the victim's capacity to pay, and that the suspected Ku Klux 
who was willing to invest this much in one of these official 
documents was safe from prosecution, at least temporarily. 
This was an extreme case; but the general character of public 
officials — black and white — was of a very low order. In- 
competence and ignorance vied with dishonesty as a qualifica- 
tion for office, and the plundering reached unprecedented 
pinnacles as the audacity of the grafters grew with their reaUza- 
tion of their autocratic powers and their opportunities. 

In such a state of affairs, it is not surprising that the white 
people should come to feel that some sort of organization for 
self-protection was needed, and throughout the South there 
began spontaneously to spring up local defensive groups, 
generally in the form of secret societies, designed primarily 
to offset the aggressiveness of the Loyal Leagues. Sometimes 
these groups had formal organizations and names, but generally 
they were merely isolated bodies of alarmed citizens preparing 
to protect themselves from whatever mischief might flow from 
the secret meetings of the armed negroes. As the Ku Klux 
Klan, with its awesome name, began to gain in fame, these 
scattered, informal local organizations began to see in it the 
possibiUty of a widespread secret society which could carry 
on this defensive work in the South in a most effective manner; 
and gradually these local groups became units in the network 

30 Invisible Empire 

of the Invisible Empire, as its sphere of influence increased. 

Such methods of relief from unbearable official oppression 
are by no means rare in the annals of history. There have been 
numerous instances of it in our own country on a small scale, 
dating as far back as when the outraged citizens of Boston 
staged their historic tea party. It was, of course, an act of 
criminal outlawry for these men to disguise themselves and 
board a ship and destroy private property. If they had been 
apprehended and arraigned before a British jury they unques- 
tionably would have been sentenced to prison terms; but 
history has been generally lenient with such criminals and the 
illegal form of their protest against oppression. 

The members of the Boston Tea Party — and the members 
of the Ku Klux Klan — were but following a precedent set 
for them in earlier days in other lands. England had known 
the Moss Troopers, who took drastic means of manifesting 
their disapproval of the iron rule of the Normans; the misrule 
of Louis XI of France had resulted in the formation of that 
powerful and mysterious organization known as the Free 
Companions; Italy had its Carbonari during the Napoleonic 
wars. Freedom-loving people everywhere, when overwhelmed 
by oppression against which they had no other defense, have 
never hesitated to resort to secret and, if needs be, violent 
organizations for relief. 

(- The Ku Klux Klan, from a casual and frivolous beginning, 
was destined to grow into perhaps the most powerful and ex- 
tensive organization of the kind that ever existed. A thoughtful 
and observant Englishman named Robert Somers toured the 
United States in 1 870-1 871, and when he got back to London 
he published a book called The Southern States Since the War in 
which he had this to say about conditions in the South as he 
found them: 'A great terror reigned for a time among the white 
people; and in this situation the "Ku Klux" started into being. 
It was one of those secret organizations which spring up in 

The Growth of the Klan 31 

disordered states of society, when the bonds of law and govern- 
ment are all but dissolved, and when no confidence is felt in 
the regular administration of justice. But the power with 
which the "Ku Klux" moved in many parts of the South, the 
knowledge it displayed of all that was going on, the fidelity 
with which its secret was kept, and the complacency with which 
it was regarded by the general community, gave this mysterious 
body a prominence and importance seldom attained by such 
illegal and deplorable associations. Nearly every respectable 
man in the Southern States was not only disfranchised but 
under fear of arrest or confiscation; the old foundations of 
authority were razed before any new ones had yet been laid, 
and in the dark and benighted interval the remains of the 
Confederate armies — swept, after a long and heroic day of 
fair fight, from the field — flitted before the eyes of the people 
in this weird and midnight shape of a "Ku Klux Klan." ' 

I As a natural and almost inevitable reaction of eflfect to 
cause, the Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee had soon found itself 
operating as an active and eflfective protective organization 
of regulators. Before long it came to be that its principal ac- 
tivities were in the direction of discouraging the depredations 
of the Loyal Leaguers; and clashes between the two antagonistic 
groups soon got beyond the point of mere threats and warnings 
and developed into violence and even bloodshed. 

^^^'As was unavoidable in meeting lawlessness with lawlessness, 
in combatting violence with violence, the performances of 
some of the members of the Klan began to overstep the bounds 
of prudence and discretion. As one of the originators of the 

^-erder wrote later: *The danger which the more prudent and 
thoughtful had apprehended as possible was now a reality. 
Rash, imprudent and bad men had gotten into the order.' 
Radical newspapers began to indulge in denunciations of this 
despicable secret society which, according to their professed 
belief, threatened a re-enslavement of the negroes, a disruption 
of the Union and other dire events. 


32 Invisible Empire 

Leading spirits within the Klan, although appreciating its 
efTectiveness as a means of taming the insolent and vicious 
negroes, also began to recognize the fact that the thing was 
getting out of hand. They had set in motion a more powerful 
machine than they had ever expected; and, having started it, 
they felt an implied responsibility to attempt to guide that force 
in a proper direction. There was also a growing apprehension 
that the horrors of Reconstruction were likely to increase 
rather than diminish, and that the people of the South, in the 
absence of protection from the government, would have need 
for some sort of organized, controlled protective system of 
their own. 

Accordingly notification was sent out to all the known Dens 
of Ku Klux instructing them to send representatives to a 
meeting to be held in Nashville in April, 1867. The immediate 
cause for this call is not known, but it is probably more than a 
coincidence that it followed closely after the enactment by 
Congress of the drastic Reconstruction Act which, in the 
boastful words of James A. Garfield, *put the bayonet at the 
breast of every rebel in the South' and left the work of recon- 
struction in the hands of a hostile Congress 'utterly and ab- 
solutely.' The meeting, according to local tradition, was held 
in Room 10 of the Maxwell House, Nashville's big new hotel; 
This room was even larger than the usual spacious hotel room- 
common to that day and time, and was amply large enough" 
to accommodate representatives of all the Ku Klux Dens then 
in existence. 

The purposes of the Nashville convention were enumerated 
as follows: 'To reorganize the KJan on a plan corresponding 
to its size and present purposes; to bind the isolated Dens to- 
gether; to secure unity of purpose and concert of action; to 
hedge the members up by such limitations and regulations as 
are best adapted to restrain them within proper limits; to dis- 
tribute the authority among prudent men at local centers and 

The Growth of the Klan 33 

exact from them a close supervision of those under their charge.' 
The principal order of business at the Nashville meeting was 
the adoption of an official constitution or, as the Ku Klux called 
it, * Prescript.' The, drafting of this formal statement of the 
purposes and basic laws of the order was entrusted to General 
George W. Gordon, an ex-Confederate officer then practicing 
law in Pulaski, who had been one of the first initiates into the 
V original Den. 

General Gordon's law office in Pulaski was just across a 
narrow passage from the office of the Citizen, which facilitated 
the job of having it printed after he had written out the first 
copy of it in longhand. A loose brick in the wall of the Citizen 
office concealed a hole which served as a secret post-office box 
for communications passing between the Klan and the printers 
so that there need be no contact between them. In this reposi- 
tory one morning Editor McCord found an unsigned letter 
asking how much it would cost to print a certain number of a 
small pamphlet of twenty-four pages, 3^ x 5^ inches. Mr. 
McCord wrote a letter to his unknown and mysterious pro- 
spective customer quoting a price of Si 00. The next morning he 
found in the hole the manuscript for the Prescript, attached to 
a hundred-dollar greenback, and the work proceeded. The 
printing was done at night, the type being set and the presses 
run by printers who were members of the Klan; and the pam- 
phlets were stitched and folded by hand, being trimmed with a 
sharp-bladed shoe knife on the floor of the attic of the printing 
shop. The name of the order was nowhere mentioned. Wher- 
ever the words 'Ku Klux' were called for in the text there ap- 
peared merely the cabalistic symbol * *. In place of 'Klan' 
there was *. 

In the first sentence of its preamble the Prescript stated: 
'We recognize our relations to the United States government 
and acknowledge the supremacy of its laws.' Then there fol- 
lowed a list of the titles of the officers and their duties, the 

34 Invisible Empire 

division of the territory in which the order was to operate, 
provision for election of officers, a tribunal of justice and other 
miscellaneous provisions including the obligation to be taken 
by new members. 

The Prescript provided that the whole territory covered by 
the operations of the order (the Southern States) should be 
called the Empire; that the Empire should be divided into 
Realms (corresponding to states); each Realm into Dominions 
(groups of counties, approximating congressional districts); 
the Dominions into Provinces (counties); and the Provinces 
into Dens. 

The officers, it was provided, should consist of a Grand 
Wizard of the Empire (the supreme official), to be assisted by 
ten Genii; a Grand Dragon of the Realm, with his eight Hydras, 
for each state; a Grand Titan, with six Furies, for each Do- 
minion; a Grand Giant, with four Night Hawks, for the Prov- 
inces. The chief officer of the local Den was still styled the 
Grand Cyclops, with two Night Hawks; the other officers of 
the Den being a Grand Magi, a Grand Monk, a Grand Ex- 
chequer, a Grand Turk, a Grand Scribe, a Grand Sentinel and 
a Grand Ensign. 'The body politic,' it was specified, 'shall be 
designated and known as Ghouls.' | 

The care and precision exercised in drawing up this set of 
rules and regulations for what was now recognized as being 
at least potentially a powerful force for good or evil is evidenced 
by the elaborate and minute specifications as to the duties of 
the officers. Taking the Grand Wizard for an example, his 
functions are set forth as follows: 

'Art. IV. Sec. i — It shall be the duty of the Grand Wizard, 
( who is the Supreme Officer of the Empire, to communicate 
with and receive reports from the Grand Dragons of the 
Realms, as to the condition, strength, efficiency and progress 
of the *s within their respective Realms. And he shall com- 
municate from time to time, to all subordinate *s, through the 

The Growth of the Klan 35 

Grand Dragon, the condition, strength, efficiency and progress 
of the *s throughout his vast Empire; and such other informa- 
tion as he may deem expedient to impart. And it shall further 
be his duty to keep by his G Scribe a list of the names (without 
any caption or explanation whatever) of the Grand Dragons 
of the different Realms of his Empire, and shall number such 
Realms with the Arabic numerals, i, 2, 3, &, adjinem. And he 
shall instruct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropriation and 
disbursement which he shall make of the revenue of the * that 
comes to his hands. He shall have through his Subalterns 
and Deputies power for the organization and establishment of 
subordinate *s. And he shall have the further power to appoint 
his Genii; also a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his 
Department, and to appoint and ordain Special Deputy Grand 
Wizards to assist him in the more rapid and effectual dissemina- 
tion and establishment of the * throughout his Empire. He is 
further empowered to appoint and instruct Deputies, to organize 
and control Realms, Dominions, Provinces and Dens, until the 
same shall elect a Grand Dragon, a Grand Titan, a Grand 
Giant and a Grand Cyclops in the manner hereafter provided. 
And when a question of paramount importance to the interest 
or prosperity of the * arises, not provided for in this Prescript, 
he shall have power to determine such question, and his decision 
shall be final, until the same shall be provided for by amend- 
ment as hereinafter provided.' 

In the section covering the election of officers it was provided 
that *The Grand Wizard of the Empire is hereby created, 
to serve three years from the First Monday in May, 1867, after 
the expiration of which time, biennial elections shall be held 
for that office.' All the officers above those of a Den were to be 
elected every two years; but the Grand Cyclops and other 
officers of the Den were to serve only six-months terms. 

The Prescript also provided the oaths and obligations. Any 
candidate for admission to the Klan was required to take this 

36 Invisible Empire 

preliminary obligation before he could be taken to the Grand 
Cyclops for examination. *I do solemnly swear or affirm that 
I will never reveal anything that I may this day (or night) 
learn concerning the * *. So help me God.' 

If the Grand Cyclops looked with favor on the candidate's 
qualifications and he was permitted to advance to the point 
of the initiation ceremonies, he was then required by the Pre- 
script to take this oath: 

<I^ ^ Qf j^y Q^^^ ^jji ^jj(^ accord, and in 

the presence of Almighty God, do solemnly swear or affirm that 
I will never reveal to anyone, not a member of the * *, by any 
intimation, sign, symbol, word or act, or in any other manner 
whatever, any of the secrets, signs, grips, pass words, mysteries 
or purposes of the * * or that I am a member of the same or 
that I know anyone who is a member, and that I will abide by 
the Prescript and Edicts of the * *. So help me God.' 

There seems to be nothing more impressive or permanentiy 
binding about this obligation than there is about a number of 
other similar oaths taken by initiates into any secret order; 
but one of the most notable things about the Ku Klux was 
that its members were in some way given an ineradicable con- 
viction that this oath superseded and vitiated all other oaths 
they might take. Certainly there were large numbers of the 
members of the order caught in the net spread out when the 
Federal Government conducted its South- wide investigation; 
but although they mounted the witness stand and took the 
oath prescribed to tell the whole truth and nothing but the 
truth, they obviously considered their Ku Klux oath as entitled 
to greater consideration. Even long years after the Ku Klux 
had disappeared as an active force, old men were reluctant to 
discuss its affairs, feeling still bound by that bond of secrecy; 
and even when they did in their old age weaken to the point of 
dropping a few morsels of information, they always did so with 
a stealthy and guilty air. 

The Growth of the Klan 37 

Aside from the printed obligation there was a printed * Inter- 
diction' providing that 'The origin, designs, mysteries and 
ritual of this * * shall never be written, but the same shall be 
communicated orally.' 

For the purpose of communicating Ku Klux messages in 
code, setting the time of meetings, etc., there was a so-called 
'Register' which specified adjectives to be used in place of the 
customary designations of the months, days of the weeks and 
hours of the day. The symbols for the months were: January, 
Dismal; February, Dark; March, Furious; April, Portentous; 
May, Wonderful; June, Alarming; July, Dreadful; August, 
Terrible; September, Horrible; October, Melancholy; No- 
vember, Mournful; December, Dying. White was the code 
word for Sunday; Green for Monday; Blue, Tuesday; Black, 
Wednesday; Yellow, Thursday; Crimson, Friday; Purple, 
Saturday. The hours of the clock were also covered by the code: 
I o'clock would be the Fearful Hour; 2, Startling; 3, Awful; 
4, Woeful; 5, Horrid; 6, Bloody; 7, Doleful; 8, Sorrowful; 
9, Hideous; 10, Frightful; 11, Appalling; 12, Last. 

This edition of the Prescript opened and closed with im- 
pressive poetic quotations, vaguely signifying the mysterious 
purposes of the order. On the title-page was printed ^Damnant 
quod non intelligunf (They condemn what they do not under- 
stand), a challenging retort to the critics of the Ku Klux; and 
at the top and bottom of each page was a more or less pertinent 
Latin phrase, some being quotations from Homer and Virgil, 
which gave some idea of the impelling principles of the organ- 
izers: 'Let there be justice, though the heavens fall'; 'Truth is 
mighty and must prevail'; 'Justice sometimes sleeps but never 
dies'; 'The cause having ceased, the effect will cease'; 'No one 
harms us unpunished.' On the last page was this L' Envoi: 
'To the lovers of Law and Order, Peace and Justice, we send 
greetings; and to the shades of the venerated Dead we affection- 
ately dedicate the * *'; followed by the Latin phrase: 'Ad 

3^ Invisible Empire 

unurn omnes^ the classical equivalent of the famous slogan of 
d'Artagnan, *One for all and all for one.' 

Some time in 1868, probably in January or February or 
the early spring, there was adopted and distributed what was 
denominated on its title-page a 'Revised and Amended Prescript 
of the Order of the * * *.' This revised and amended edition 
followed the same general -form of the original, one important 
difference being the inclusion of a declaration of the 'Character 
and Objects of the Order' in these words: 
/- *This is an institution of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy and 

Patriotism; embodying in its genius and its principles all that 
is chivalric in conduct, noble in sentiment, generous in man- 
hood and patriotic in purpose; its peculiar objects being 

'First: To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless 
from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the 
violent and the brutal; to relieve the injured and oppressed; 
to succor the suffering and unfortunate, and especially the 
widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers. 

'Second: To protect and defend the Constitution of the 
United States, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and 
to protect the States and the people thereof from all invasion 
from any source whatever. 

'Third: To aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional 
laws, and to protect the people from unlawful seizure, and 
from trial except by their peers in conformity with the laws of 
the land.' 

A significant change in the revised Prescript was the elimina- 
tion from the Grand Wizard's duties of the obligation to take 
steps looking to the 'rapid and effectual dissemination and 
estabUshment of the * throughout his Empire.' Presumably 
there was no longer any necessity for this provision, the Klan 
having been thoroughly 'disseminated and established' since 
the adoption of the original Prescript. 

The new Prescript also had more detailed and elaborate 

The Growth of the Klan 39 

specifications for the setting up and conduct of the Judiciary,' 
the last section of this article providing that 'The several courts 
herein provided for shall be governed in their deliberations, 
proceedings and judgments by the rules and regulations govern- 
ing the proceedings of regular Courts-martial.' 

Another noteworthy change was that the revised Prescript 
definitely mentioned the names of the states embraced in the 
Empire. The territory embraced within the jurisdiction of 
this Order,' it said, 'shall be coterminus with the States of 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, 
Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee; all combined constituting 
the Empire.' 

It was specifically provided in both the original and the 
revised Prescripts that the Grand Cyclops should govern his 
Den 'in accordance with and in conformity to the Provisions 
of this Prescript — a copy of which shall in all cases be obtained 
before the formation of a Den begins.' The Prescript was the 
sacred book of the Order. 

The article covering 'Eligibility for Membership' was con- 
siderably amplified and elaborated, notably by the inclusion 
of a list of interrogatories to be asked prospective candidates 
immediately following the preliminary obligation: 

*ist. Have you ^er been rejected, upon application for 
membership in the ♦ * *, or have you ever been expelled 
from the same? 

'2nd. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the 
Radical Republican party, or either of the organizations known 
as the "Loyal League" and the "Grand Army of the Republic"? 

'3rd. Are you opposed to the principles and policy of the 
Radical party, and to th^ Loyal League, and the Grand Army 
of the Republic, so far as you are informed of the character and 
purposes of those organizations? 

'4th. Did you belong to the Federal army during the late war. 

40 Invisible Empire 

and fight against the South during the existence of the same? 

*5th. Are you opposed to negro equality, both social and 

*6th. Are you in favor of a white man's government in this 

'7th. Are you in favor of Constitutional liberty, and a govern- 
ment of equitable laws instead of a government of violence and 

*8th. Are you in favor of maintaining the Constitutional 
rights of the South? 

'gth. Are you in favor of the re-enfranchisement and emanci- 
pation of the white man of the South and the restitution to 
the Southern people of all their rights, alike proprietary, civil 
and political?' 

If the candidate successfully ran the gauntlet of this searching 
interrogation he was carried on in the initiatory process. If he 
gave the wrong answers to any of the questions he was not 
regarded as proper timber for membership and he was forth- 
with discharged and dismissed 'after being solemnly admonished 
by the initiating officer of the deep secrecy to which the oath 
already taken has bound him, and that the extreme penalty of 
the law will follow a violation of the same.' 

For some undiscoverable reason there were several changes 
made in the lurid adjectives signifying the months and the 
hours and the colors representing the days of the week. Per- 
haps there had been a 'leak' which destroyed the value of the 
old code; at any rate, the changes were made. To the Register 
was also added the code word 'CUMBERLAND,' which ap- 
pears to have been provided as a means of using letters of the 
alphabet to stand for figures, the letters in the word CUMBER- 
LAND standing successively for the numbers i, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 

8, 9. o- 

If the Grand Cyclops wished to call a meeting of his Den 
for say, Thursday night, July 25, at nine o'clock, he would 

The Growth of the Klan 41 

post in some prominent place or advertise in the paper specify- 
ing the Purple Night, Painful Moon, UE, Awful Hour, and 
every Ku Klux would know what was meant. 

Another noteworthy change made in the style of the new 
Prescript was the use of three stars instead of two in the blank 
space left in the name of the order in the official title, this 
marking the change from the two-word title 'Kuklux Klan' to 
the later three- word style 'Ku Klux Klan.' Another interesting 
detail was that before printing the second edition of the little 
book the Pulaski printing shop had evidently augmented its 
font of type and was able to use stars throughout the book in 
the blank spaces where the name of the organization was for pur- 
poses of secrecy omitted. In the original edition Mr. McCord's 
supply of stars was exhausted before the last page was reached, 
and in setting up the last line of the Final Obligation it was 
necessary to indicate the omission of the name by the use ot 
that familiar printers' ornament, the dagger, in place of the 
stars. When a copy of this Prescript fell into the hands of the 
Congressional Committee later, they sought to make a mare's 
nest of this detail by suggesting that the daggers were used at 
this particular "point as an indication of the tragic fate which 
would befall a violator of the obHgation. This gave a sinister 
touch to the proceedings, but the prosaic fact was that the 
typographical change was due to nothing worse than the 
inadequacy of the Pulaski CitizerCs supply of type. 




URiNGTHE PERIOD of its activc existence the Ku Klux 
Klan was a secret society in the strictest sense of the word; 
so much so, in fact, that there were even doubts expressed as to 
whether such an organization actually existed. At the time 
there was no information whatever available as to its form of 
organization and its methods of procedure. Ku Klux and 
mystery were synonyms. 

In the absence of any accurate and reliable information, 
the magazines and newspapers of the time vied with each other 
in printing the ^revelations' and 'confessions' of alleged members; 
but these were, almost without exception, wholly spurious. 
During the Klan's declining days there were some actual con- 
fessions obtained from genuine members which threw real light 
on the workings of the Ku Klux organization; but these so-called 
confessions of the earlier period of the Klan's lifetime were 
generally the product of some gifted writer's highly developed 
imagination, highly seasoned with the blood-and-thunder 
touch and more than a dash of the gruesome. They were designed 
to pander to the popular conception of what the wicked Ku 
Klux did, how they looked and how they operated; and they 
accomplished this purpose in the most thorough and effective 

An outrageous, but characteristic, misrepresentation of the 

How the Klan Operated 43 

facts was an alleged eye-witness's account of a Ku Klux initia- 
tion which was printed in the New York Illustrated News in 
May, 1868. The author of this shameless fake told of how he 
had interviewed an individual, identified merely as 'L. G. W.,' 
who had been initiated into the order and who was so revolted 
by the gory nature of the proceedings that he felt justified in 
violating his oath of secrecy and pouring his horrid story into 
the willing ears of the Illustrated News writer. 

'According to L. G. W.,' the story went, 'he upon the initia- 
tory night was first conducted into the interior of a rude cavern, 
fitfully lighted with flaring pine knots, and filled with men 
in the usual ghostly disguise adopted by the Order under like 
circumstances — black mask, graveyard shroud, etc. Behind 
a small table, bearing the simple but suggestive garniture of a 
human skull, stood the Grand Cyclops, a gigantic man, naked 
to the waist, with a dagger in his right hand, and the whole 
upper portion of his body smeared with warm, smoking blood. 
The walls of the cavern were also lined with rows of grinning 
skeletons. At a signal from the chief, several of the assassins 
proceeded to a small sub-cavity in the darkest corner of the 
cave and brought therefrom a lusty negro, securely gagged and 
bound, whom they placed at full length on a sort of rude altar, 
immediately in front of the chiefs little table. The wretched 
negro rolled up his eyes and quivered with terror in every limbf 
but could not move. Then the novice was informed that, before 
he could be admitted into the order, he must prove his fearless- 
ness of murder by striking the victim to the heart and staining 
his hands in the gushing life blood; and the knife was placed 
in his hand for that purpose. The candidate at first drew back 
in horror at such a proposition, but the fierce glare of the eyes 
and the ominous clicking of firearms around him convinced 
him that his own life would be the forfeiture in case of refusal. 
So, closing his eyes, he rushed forward desperately and dealt 
the fatal blow. Then, after all the members had dipped their 

44 Invisible Empire 

fingers in the gushing blood of the human victim, the oath was 
administered, the constitution signed and the ceremony of 
initiation rendered complete.* 

This article is not without merit as an extreme example of 
the hair-raising school of writing so prevalent in the cheap 
magazines of the time, but it should be read and evaluated on 
the basis of what it is — highly imaginative fiction and not 

Fortunately we are not dependent upon such raw-head-and- 
bloody-bones stories for a knowledge of Ku Klux affairs, as it is 
possible at the present time to present a fairly accurate account 
of the Klan's methods of operation, its oaths, disguises, pass- 
words, etc., based on the accounts of witnesses before the 
Congressional Committee and the confessions of recusant Ku 
Klux in the courts, amplified and corroborated by the stories 
cautiously told in later years by surviving members of the 

In its system of procedure the Ku Klux Klan presented a 
strange combination of discipline and irresponsibility. They 
did not recognize the existence of any legal authority to which 
they were properly subject; but within their own organization 
they had rigid rules of conduct which, in the beginning at least, 
were firmly enforced and obeyed. It should be borne in mind, 
of course, that the Klan changed complexion with the times. 
Not until it had been in existence a year or more did it take 
on the self-conferred police powers Which came to be its prin- 
cipal function. It was organized >a4^ a social and benevolent 
organization, and that it actually operated along those lines 
in its infancy is shown by this item which appeared in a Nash- 
ville papef" early in 1868: 

*The Fj^anklin Review of yesterday related th^t the Ku Klux 
a few nights since visited the home of a poor widow whose two 
sons had fallen in the Confederate service, leaving on her door- 
step a package containing one hundred dollars and a quantity 

How the Klan Operated 45 

of domestics, calicoes and other dry goods. A widow lady of 
Williamson County, with three children dependent on her for 
support, was the grateful recipient of a similar package, inside 
of which she found one hundred dollars in currency and a letter 
which stated that the writer was formerly an intimate com- 
panion and fellow-soldier of her only son who was killed while 
a member of a Confederate regiment.' 

Admittedly the Ku Klux soon outgrew this stage of harmless 
knight-errantry; but even in its more violent days there lingered 
about its proceedings an incongruous reminiscence of this early 
courtliness which lent a grotesque air to some of its doings. 
A carpetbagger who was whipped by the Ku Klux in Mississippi 
voluntarily commented on their discipline and generally good 
behavior when they honored him with their attention. *They 
treated me very courteously,' he said, *except the beating they 
gave me; but otherwise I was not insulted or treated unkindly 
at all. One of them commenced to curse; he began "God 

damn " when the captain stopped him and said he should 

not do that. They were civil in their manner.' It is difficult 
to understand how the sting of the lash could in any degree be 
ameliorated by the polite manner of the flogger; but this victim 
seemed to appreciate being whipped in a 'courteous and gentle- 
manly manner.' Similar testimony was given by a North 
Carolina scalawag who was disciplined by the Ku Klux. When 
an excitable and impulsive member of the band began to 
heap abuse on the victim, suggesting that he should be killed, 
he was rebuked by thejeader with a stern 'Remember your 
oath: Justice and humanity,' and, the abusive member having 
been reduced to a proper gentlemanly state, the whipping 
continued in the proper manner. 

Some Explanation of the incongruity of this may be found 
in the fact that the Ku Klux did not regard themselves as law- j 
breakers but as law-enforcers. As one of them said to a pro- 
spective member in Mississippi: 'We have got an organization 

46 Invisible Empire 

/t that is to whip out everything; and all the damned scalawags, 
carpetbaggers and nigger-equality men will have to leave the 
country. We are going to restore law and order.' The time was 
out of joint, and they were born to set it right. They went about 
^A their business in a manner which was sometimes violent; but 
they felt no more sense of personal turpitude than does the 
executioner who springs the fatal trap of the gallows. They were 
instruments of justice, and they felt a sense of obligation to 
\ carry out their system of punishment in as orderly a manner 
as was possible under such disorderly conditions as then pre- 

Preposterous as it may seem, the Ku Klux considered them- 
selves as something equivalent to an entire system of juris- 
prudence compressed into one body, combining the functions 
of prosecuting attorney, grand jury, trial judge and executioner. 
Until the days of the Klan's degeneration this power was not 
generally abused. On the contrary, in the proceedings of the 
individual Dens there was generally pretty close adherence to 
the prescribed policy of having a council or committee which 
decided all matters involving raids or punishments to be meted 
out to alleged offenders against the principles of the order. 
In the open meetings of the Den suggestions would be made 
as to persons who were thought to be in need of the Klan's 
ministrations; but it was the council which considered these 
matters, deliberated over them and decided what should be 
done. If it were concluded that a raid should be made, the 
individual members to take part in it were designated and the 
nature of the punishment prescribed. The council was in the 
nature of a grand jury. If it reported 'no true bill' that was 
supposed to end that particular case. 

The respect for this phase of the Klan's mode of procedure, 
even among the most disorderly elements participating in its 
activities during its declining days, was shown by an incident in 
North Carolina. In 1871 four overzealous members of the 

How the Klan Operated 47 

newly organized Young's Mountain Den, impatient to get to 
work at their new profession of Ku Kluxing and unwilling to 
wait until they were detailed by the council, went to a neighbor- 
ing still-house where they partook freely of its product and 
then decided on their own initiative to make a visit of re- 
monstrance to a widow, Mrs. Murphy, who had a negro man 
living on her premises with whom they suspected her of being 
*too thick.' Accordingly they put on their new disguises and 
called at Mrs. Murphy's home where, in the words of one of 
their fellows, *they cursed her right smart and rode her horse 
and her mule off up the road about two miles and then turned 
them loose in the road.' One of the raiders, rendered careless 
by his inebriation, unwittingly left his calling-card at Mrs. 
Murphy's, dropping in her yard his hat with his name written 
in the inside. As a result of this, all four of the volunteer regu- 
lators were arrested and lodged in the Marion jail. 

The next meeting of their Den considered their case, and it 
was proposed that the members storm the jail and release the 
prisoners, this being a part of the usual Ku Klux procedure in 
such instances. The other members of the Den, however, 
balked at the idea of exposing themselves to the danger of an 
attack on the jail for the purpose of rescuing brethren who had 
been arrested for an entirely unauthorized and unofficial raid, 
and they refused to take any part in the proposed rescue work. 
The Cyclops, however, felt that the honor of the Ku Klux was 
at stake; and so he called on a neighboring Den in South 
Carolina to send a rescue party to Marion, which the South 
Carolinians obligingly did, and the four prisoners were released 
and managed to make their escape from the country. 

In sending to a neighbor Den for assistance, the Cyclops of the 
Young's Mountain Den was following the regular Ku Klux 
plan. Ordinary visits of threat or admonition were attended 
to by each Den in its own territory; but when there was more 
serious work afoot it was generally arranged to have it done 

48 Invisible Empire 

by a band of Klansmen from some other community. This 
had a two-fold purpose: The raiders, if accidentally exposed to 
view, were less likely to be identified, being among strangers; 
and the local boys who were suspected of being (and were) 
members of the Klan were able to show themselves in public 
while the raid was taking place and thus establish ironclad 
alibis. This system of interlocking co-operation was practiced 
throughout the Invisible Empire, and was highly effective in 
preventing detection and identification. 

The members of the Young's Mountain Den who made the 
unauthorized raid on Mrs. Murphy were violating one of th e 
fundamental principles of the Klan's code. The individual 
members, the *ghouls,' as they were officially designated, were 
like the privates in an army. They were supposed to obey the 
orders of their superiors; and action on individual initiative 
was severely frowned upon. In at least one known instance in 
Tennessee a Klansman was tried and executed by the members 
of his own Den because he whipped a negro for personal reasons 
while wearing his Ku Klux disguise. In the organization of local 
Dens it was customary to place the official positions in the 
hands of men of maturity and responsibility, with some degree 
of executive ability and leadership; and, between the ghouls 
and the officers, the personnel of the local Klan generally repre- 
sented the major part of the active men of the community. 
Newspaper editors made especially valuable members, as that 
gave the Ku Klux a mouthpiece and advertising medium; and 
it is remarkable how many editors in the South were members 
of the order or popularly understood to be such. 

The Klan also had a system of auxiliary non-members, some- 
what similar to the 'fellow-travelers' of the modern Communist 
Party, composed of those who were worth more to the order 
outside of it than in. A typical instance of this was supplied 
by a well-to-do planter who lived on a farm in Tennessee not 
far from the Kentucky line. One day he was visited by a 

How the Klan Operated 49 

friend of his, a prominent doctor from a near-by town, who led 
the conversation into a discussion of the parlous times in which 
they were living and ascertained beyond any doubt that his 
host was a true-blue anti-Radical. Before leaving, the doctor 
intimated to him that he might be called upon to be of service. 

'Don't ask any questions,' he was warned, 'no matter what 
strange things may happen; just keep quiet. If you get any 
messages signed with three K's, like this (showing him the 
proper arrangement), do whatever is asked. If it is something 
that involves you in any expense, make out your bill by merely 
marking down the amount on a piece of paper — no heading 
nor items nor statement, just the figures — and present it to the 
president of the bank in town and he will pay it. But say no- 
thing and don't ask questions. Then if you should be called on 
by the Radicals why you know nothing about the matter, and 
you can't get in any trouble.' 

The next day after this visit the farmer received a note, signed 
with the cabalistic K K K, saying simply: 'Supper for six men, 
feed for six horses, at the old schoolhouse, nine o'clock tonight.' 
The farmer dutifully sent the suppers and the feed to the 
schoolhouse by a white man who worked for him, the doctor 
having assured him that this hired man 'could be trusted,' which 
was presumed to mean that he was a member of the Ku Klux. 
At any rate, he performed the task assigned him and manifested 
no surprise at being asked to do so. That night at a village in 
Kentucky, twenty miles away, two particularly objectionable 
carpetbaggers who had been preaching social equality to the 
negroes were visited by a party of Ku Klux in disguise and 
given a severe whipping. The farmer, the next time he was in 
town, went to the bank and without a word presented to the 
president a piece of paper on which was written 'S3.' The 
banker, also without comment, handed over the indicated 
amount, and the transaction was closed. 

The next week he received a note saying: 'Have your roan 



50 ' Invisible Empire 

mare left saddled and bridled under the cedar tree in the 
corner of your south pasture tonight at midnight.' That night 
a bumptious officer of the offensive Brownlow militia was shot. 
One of the natives of the town was strongly suspected of the 
shooting, but that night he disappeared. How he made his 
escape was a mystery, as he had no horse and none of the horses 
in town were missing. A few days later the friendly farmer was 
asked to send to a little deserted cabin in the near-lDy woods 
sufficient provisions for one man for a week; and he found his 
mare one morning in her stall in the stable innocently munching 
her oats. 

Similar assignments were frequently carried out, the thrifty 
farmer always presenting his terse invoices to the town banker 
and always being paid without question or comment. When 
the Ku Klux investigation was being carried on this man was 
called as a witness and bombarded with questions: Had he ever 
belonged to the Ku Klux Klan? Why, no; certainly not. Had 
he ever seen a Ku Klux? No. Had he ever seen men in disguise? 
No. Had strangers ever stopped at his house? Had suspicious 
characters been about? Had the Ku Klux ever asked him to 
help them? No; no; no; he truthfully answered. 

Such methods of indirection, however, were the exception 
rather than the rule. Generally the Klan would hold its meet- 
ings, pass its judgments and execute its sentences within the 
active body of its membership, following a systematic order of 
procedure. The Grand Cyclops of the Den would send out 
word by the Night Hawks when a meeting was to be held, 
naming the place, all communications being oral to prevent 
the existence of any incriminating documentary evidence; and 
the members would, one by one, gather at the prescribed 

It was customary for the local Dens to have more than one 
place of meeting, and they would rotate their gatherings be- 
tween these places so as to avoid attracting attention by too 

How the Klan Operated 51 

frequently getting together in the same place. In Nashville, 
for example, the Den commanded by Captain John W. Morton 
met sometimes in the Maxwell House, sometimes in a room 
over Smith's drugstore on the corner of Church and Vine 
Streets, sometimes in a room on the top floor of the Masonic 
Temple, and many times over the storeroom of the N.C. & St. 
L. Railway. Another rendezvous of this Den was the old 
powder magazine in the abandoned Fort Negley. In the rural 
sections meetings were generally held in the open air, mostly in 
the woods, the place of one meeting being decided upon at the 
previous gathering. In Memphis a favorite meeting place was 
in the woods east of town which is now comprised in Overton 

At these regular meetings, generally held about once a week, 
the conduct of any offensive characters would be discussed; 
and, if the majority voted to punish them, it would be done on 
a prescribed night. Sometimes it was deemed necessary only 
to post notices of warning which, in many cases, were sufficient 
to induce the offenders to mend their ways and avoid the 
necessity for further treatment in their cases. 

The hailing signs, passwords and so forth in use in various 
parts of the Invisible Empire differed in some minor ways; 
but they all showed plainly their common origin, the variations 
doubtless being due to the natural errors incident to oral 

William K. Owens, who confessed that he was a member 
of Rufus McLain's Den in Yorkville, South Carolina, known 
as *The Black Panthers,' stated in his confession that the sign 
of recognition was three strokes with the left hand against the 
left ear, the reply or response being the right hand struck on 
the pocket or put in the pocket, *done as careless as possible.' 
The grip, as he described it, was 'the forefinger on the muscle 
of the arm or wrist, and the little fingers interlaced.' The pass- 
word, according to Owens, was not pronounced but syllabled. 

52 Invisible Empire 

'If you meet a man at night and think he belongs to the order, 
and you wish to find out, you spell out the word S-A-Y. If he 
belongs he will reply N-O-T-H-I-N-G, spelling it.' The 
word of distress, he said, was 'Avalanche.' 

In one county of North Carolina the following colloquy 
was employed in challenging and answering the challenge: 

*Who comes there?' 

*A friend.' 

'A friend of what?' 

'My country.' 

'What country?' 

'I S-A-Y.' 


'The word?' 


John R. Taliaferro, who testified that he was a member of 
a Den in Noxubee County, Mississippi, gave 'Avalanche' as the 
word of distress. Taliaferro said that the sign of recognition 
at night, when two parties were going in opposite directions, 
was for one of them to exclaim: 'Hail.' The other party an- 
swered: 'Hail who?' The first party said, 'Mount'; the other 
replied: 'Nebo' — Mount Nebo being the countersign at night. 
This password, according to Taliaferro, was used not only in 
Noxubee County, but also in Winston, Lauderdale, Kemper, 
Lowndes and Oktibbeha, and Pickens County, Alabama. 
The symbol of recognition, he said, was for one party to draw 
his right hand across his chin, the other responding, if a member, 
by taking hold of the left lapel of his coat and shaking it. 

G. Wiley Wells, United States district attorney for the north- 
ern district of Mississippi, testified that the word 'Avalanche' 
was used in Tishomingo County, sometimes alternated with 
'Blucher' or 'Star.' 'Who comes there?' was the challenge, to 
which the reply was 'You know who.' The response to this was 
'I know what?' Then, upon coming together, they would ex- 

How the Klan Operated 53 

tend their hands and give the grip, rubbing the forefinger 
twice across the wrist. 'In wishing to recognize a party in the 
daytime,' he said, 'it was done by taking hold of the lapel of the 
coat, with the thumb of the hand extended to the front pardy, 
and in the air. The response was to place the closed hand on 
the right hip, with the thumb extended straight out. Another 
sign of recognition used was to stroke the beard once or twice. 
If the party recognized this sign, he responded by placing his 
thumbs in the waistband of his pants, with his forefingers 

Another confessed Ku Klux told that the hailing sign in use 
by his Den was in three parts: The hailing party would, first, 
stroke the fingers of his right hand briskly over his hair, begin- 
ning at the right forehead and bringing the hand around back 
of the ear — a natural gesture, as though he were merely strok- 
ing his hair back. The answer was the same sign made with 
the left hand over the left ear. Second, the hailing party would 
stick the fingers of his right hand into his trousers pocket, with 
the thumb left outside the pocket, at the same time bringing the 
right heel into the hollow of the left foot. The answer was the 
same hand-sign with the left hand, and the left heel brought into 
the hollow of the right foot. Where a further precaution was 
needed, the first man would finger the right lapel of his coat 
with his right hand 'as though searching for a pin,' the answer 
being the same gesture with the left hand. The grip, this man 
testified, 'was very simple, being given simply by placing the 
forefinger of the right hand on the pulse of the person whose 
hand was being gripped.' (Incidentally, it is interesting to 
relate, these signs were recognized and confirmed as authentic 
by a surviving Ku Klux in Tennessee.) The favored password 
in this Den, as in many others, was 'Avalanche' — and it may 
be more than a coincidence that this was the name of the leading 
Democratic paper in Memphis, the home of Grand Wizard 

54 Invisible Empire 

A sign of recognition used in Georgia was thus described by a 
member there: 'Supposing we were in a crowd or in a house 
where there were a great many people together, and he wanted 
to know whether I belonged to the organization or not, he 
would put his foot on top of mine and press it and say: "I ask 
your pardon." If I belonged to the order I would remark: 
"It is granted." Then, if I met with a gentleman and shook 
hands with him, or anything of that sort, and asked him how 
he was, if he belonged to the organization he would say: "I am 
well^ how are you?" "Well" was the word.' 

In South Carolina a system of warnings, to be used in public 
and in the daytime, consisted of taps. 'If you are on the street 
and you see a man standing about and you are not close to him, 
if you give the three taps — first one, and after that two to- 
gether — if he belongs to the Ku Klux he will respond. Some- 
times it is used as a caution. If you come up in a crowd of men 
and see a man in it talking too much and about to divulge 
something, you can make the taps with your foot on the ground. 
It wouldn't be noticed by the others unless they were members; 
and he would understand the meaning of it — to be careful 
of the crowd.' 

In the testimony adduced before the Congressional Com- 
mittee there were quoted several variants from the official oath 
as proscribed in the Original Prescript, which was: 

'I, , of my own free will and accord, and in the 

presence of Almighty God, do solemnly swear or affirm that I 
will never reveal to any one, not a member of the * * by any 
intimation, sign, symbol, word or act, or in any other manner 
whatever, any of the secrets, signs, grips, pass-words, mysteries 
or purposes of the * *, or that I am a member of the same or 
that I know any one who is a member, and that I will abide by 
the Prescript and Edicts of the * *. So help me God.' 

This oath, with one or two unimportant verbal changes, was 
also prescribed by the Revised and Amended Prescript; but it 

How the Klan Operated 55 

is interesting to observe the variations between this and the 
several different but similar obligations reported by some of the 
witnesses. In North Carolina, for example, there were three 
entirely different versions introduced into the record. What 
came to be known as *the Shotwell oath,' it having been testi- 
fied that Captain R. A. Shotwell, as chief of the Klan in Ruther- 
ford County, had administered it, was as follows: 

'I, , before the great immaculate God of heaven 

and earth, do take and subscribe to the following sacred and 
binding oath and obligation: I promise and swear that I will 
uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States as 
handed down by our forefathers, in its original purity. I promise 
and swear that I will reject and oppose the principles of the 
Radical party in all its forms, and forever maintain and contend 
that intelligent white men shall govern this country. I promise 
and pledge myself to assist, according to my pecuniary circum- 
stances, all brothers in distress. Females, widows and their 
households shall ever be specially in my care and protection. 
I promise and swear that I will obey all instructions given me 
by my chief; and should I ever divulge, or cause to be divulged, 
any secrets, signs or passwords of the Invisible Empire, I must 
meet with the fearful and just penalty of the traitor, which is 
death — death — death, at the hands of the brethren.' 

This seems to have been beyond question the oath used in 
North Carolina, as it was repeated from memory by J. R. 
De Priest, who admitted that he was the Cyclops of Den No. 3 
in Rutherford County. In examining the North Carolina recu- 
sants it was the practice of the examining attorneys to read this 
oath to them and ask them if they recognized it or if it was the 
r^ath they took, all of them giving generally affirmative answers. 
\ David Schenck, who was accused of being the Ku Klux 
U chieftain^in Lincoln County, but who denied that honor and 
h vehemently insisted that he was not even a member of the Ku 
\ Klux Klan, admitted that in 1868 he had joined a secret or- 

5^ Invisible Empire 

ganization Tor mutual protection and benefit' which he said 
was called the Invisible Empire. The oath he took, he said, 
did not give any intimation of violence or obligate the swearer 
to obey his superior's orders, but was ^substantially the obliga- 
tion published by the military authorities at Yorkville, South 
Carolina.' This oath, obtained from a confessed Ku Klux at 
Yorkville, was as follows: 

T, , before the Immaculate Judge of heaven and 

earth, and upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, do, 
of my own free will and accord, subscribe to the following 
sacredly binding obligations: 

Tirst. We are on the side of justice, humanity and constitu- 
tional liberty, as bequeathed to us in its purity by our forefathers. 

'Second. We oppose and reject the principles of the Radical 

'Third. We pledge mutual aid to each other in sickness, 
distress and pecuniary embarrassment. 

'Fourth. Females, friends, widows and their households shall 
ever be special objects of our regard and protection. 

'Fifth. Any member divulging or causing to be divulged 
any of the foregoing obligations shall meet the fearful penalty 
and traitor's doom, which is death, death, death!' 

In addition to these, there was also quoted in the North 
Carolina testimony the text of what was described as 'the Leach 
oath,' it being attributed to Governor Leach. It was much 
more discursive and verbose than the Shotwell or Yorkville 
oaths, but was substantially the same in import. The oaths 
were generally memorized and transmitted orally, and it is 
not surprising that differences in verbiage should have crept in, 
reflecting the vocabular fluency of the votaries. 

Similar evidences of individuaHsm and initiative are to be 
seen in other occasional departures from the formula laid down 
in the Prescript. For instance, some witnesses speak of seeing 
bands of Ku Klux carrying a flag with the letters 'K K K' on it. 

How the Klan Operated 57 

Such flags were carried by some bands, and one such made of 
rawhide is preserved in a museum at Florence, Alabama, but 
they were entirely unauthorized and unofficial. The Original 
Prescript's Article X was headed 'Ensign' and provided: 

The Grand Banner of this * shall be in the form of an isos- 
celes triangle, five feet long and three feet wide at the staff. 
The material shall be Yellow, with a Red scalloped border, 
about three inches in width. There shall be painted upon it, 
in black, a Dracovolans,t or Flying Dragon, with the following 
motto inscribed above the Dragon, 

'quod semper, quod ubique, quod ad omnibus.' J 

The first footnote says, *See Webster's Unabridged Pictorial'; 
and the second obligingly gives the translation of the Latin 
phrase: 'What always, what everywhere, what by all is held to 
be true.' 

For some unknown reason this Article was omitted from the 
Revised and Amended Prescript; and from the fist of officers 
was also omitted the 'Grand Ensign,' whose duties in the 
Original Prescript were thus described: 'It shall be the duty 
of the Grand Ensign to take charge of the Grand Banner of 
the *, to preserve it sacredly, and protect it carefully, and to 
bear it on all occasions of parade or ceremony, and on such 
other occasions as the Grand Cyclops may direct it to be 
flung to the night breeze.' This reference to flinging the ensign 
'to the night breeze,' by the way, was made much of in the 
report of the majority of the Congressional Committee, being 
advanced as evidence of the Ku Klux's operation under cover 
of darkness. 

At least two of the official banners made in accordance with 
the specifications of the Original Prescript are now known to 
exist — one in the Confederate Museum at Richmond and 
one in the private collection of Mr. Lucius E. Burch, Jr., of 
Memphis — but apparently the banner was considered a 

. 5^ Invisible Empire 

superfluous elaboration, since it was omitted from the provisions 
of the Revised Prescript and most Klans were not provided 
with them. 

In attending regular meetings of a Den, members usually 
wore their ordinary clothing, the disguises being donned only 
on the occasion of raids, demonstrations or other group ap- 
pearances in public. On such occasions they were generally 
carried in the saddle-bags until the time arrived to put them 
on; and, the demonstration over, they were doffed and replaced 
in the saddle-bags for concealment. Between times, they were 
kept hidden in some place — smokehouses, corn-cribs, hollow 
logs and the box tombs of cemeteries being favored repositories 
for the incriminating regalia. 

Since it was to the weird appearance of their disguises that 
the Ku Klux owed so much of the terror they created among 
the negroes, it is worth while to pay more than passing attention 
to this phase of their operations. In its official investigation the 
Government apparently started out with the idea of trying to 
establish the fact of a single, central authority somewhere in the 
Invisible Empire which supplied the members with their robes, 
and the question was asked of all the early witnesses whether the 
disguises they may have seen seemed to have been made by 
tailors or other skilled hands, and if the Ku Klux were all 
dressed alike. It soon became apparent, however, that there 
was actually little uniformity about the uniforms, paradoxical 
as that may sound; and they were obviously home-made and 
not supplied by any central quartermaster like the uniforms 
worn by an army. 

One of the most romantic features of the whole Ku Klux 
movement was the method pursued by the Klansmen in sup- 
plying themselves with the disguises in which they appeared. 
No man was willing to incriminate his wife, his mother, his 
sister or his sweetheart; but it was these women-folks who sat 
up till the late hours of the night to ply their needles and threads 

How the Klan Operated 59 

to furnish the disguises needed. Here again the indirect method 
was used; for, whatever they might suspect, the ladies must be 
able to say that they did not know anything about the Ku 
Klux. A Southern woman seated by her lamp at night was 
not startled if a package was tossed into an open window which, 
upon examination, was found to contain a piece of cloth with 
directions as to how to make it into a robe of the desired size 
and style, and also directions as to where to leave it when it 
was finished.' Or a group of robed Ku Klux would ride up to a 
house in broad daylight, with a supply of material, and openly 
negotiate with the women of the house for the making of the 
desired robes, meanwhile cracking jokes with the wide-eyed 
but unafraid children. The women, of course, never knew the 
identity of any men involved in such deahngs, and they were 
particular not to try to find out anything definite about it. 
A young country girl in Tennessee found a package on the 
front gallery containing calico, buttons and thread, with a 
note: 'Dear Missy: Please make this into two robes and two 
masks for Two Ku Klux.' The young woman had no idea of 
the authors of the note; but she made the two suits of a size 
to fit her two elder brothers, and left them on a stump by the 
front fence as directed — and there was never any complaint 
as to the fit. A man who worked in a small-town general store 
at the time said: 'I never saw as many big, two-fisted men as 
suddenly began to sidle up to the dry-goods counter in the 
store and buy quantities of black or white or red calico. Gen- 
erally they would buy just about enough to make a full-sized 
robe for a man — but of course it was none of my business 
what a man did with a piece of dry goods after he had bought 
it, and I couldn't swear that any of my customers were Ku 

There was printed in a Nashville paper a copy of a letter 
received by two young ladies of the city, requesting them to 
make two robes, this letter reading: 

6o Invisible Empire 

Headquarters K. K. K. 
Anno Domini, 1868 

Misses X and T: 

Knowing you to be friends of the Ku Klux Klan, the Grand 
Cyclops takes the privilege of requesting you to make a couple 
of robes for some of his poor, needy followers, and if you will 
be so kind as to make them the protecting eye of the Great 
Grand Cyclops will ever rest upon you. Thinking that you 
will make them, the following are the directions: 

Make two robes reaching to the ground, open in front, 
bordered with white three inches wide, white cuffs and collars, 
half moons on the left breast with stars in the center of each 
moon, and caps of a conical shape twelve inches high with a 
tassel, with white cloth hanging over the face so as to conceal it, 
and behind so as to hide the back of the head. 

Make the first of the caps red, the second and third white, 
and the rest red. 

By Order of G. G. Cyclops. 

Abel Haassaanan, G. Scribe 

The Grand Turk will be after them on the night of the 15th, 
at 10 o'clock. 
You are requested to burn this after reading. 

Although the Ku Klux in fiction and newspaper stories are 
invariably described as 'white-robed' figures, the fact seems 
to be that the matter of color and style was left largely to the 
individual's personal taste, although all were of a grotesque 
nature calculated to impress and terrify the ignorant and super- 
stitious. White robes were originally used by the Pulaski 
organizers of the Klan, and were generally favored by other 
Klans at first. 'The impression sought to be made,' said Ryland 
Randolph, Grand Cyclops of the Den at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 
'was that these white-robed night prowlers were the ghosts of 
the Confederate dead who had arisen from their graves in 

How the Klan Operated 6i 

order to work vengeance on an undesirable class of both white 
and black men. Their robes used in their nocturnal campaigns 
consisted simply of sheets wrapped around the bodies and 
belted around the waist. The lower portion reached to the 
heels, whilst the upper had eye-holes through which to see 
and a mouth-hole through which to breathe.' 

There was, however, an early departure from the popularity 
of the white robes, and black or red with white trimmings 
seemed to be favored. Various schemes of ornamentation were 
adopted in different sections, governed chiefly by the indi- 
vidual's personal taste and whim, and some of them went in 
for ingeniously terrifying appurtenances like the horns popular 
in some states. 

Accurate information as to the appearance of the Ku Klux 
disguises is fortunately not lacking. Aside from the detailed 
descriptions given by eye-witnesses, some of the uniforms have 
been preserved in the South (although at the time of disband- 
ment it was specifically ordered that they be burned), and also 
there was an occasional instance of a captured uniform, although 
such instances were rare. One such captured disguise is now 
on display in the museum of the Buffalo Historical Society in 
Buffalo, New York; and in 1868 a Yankee schoolma'am in 
Mississippi wrote home telling of such a capture by the soldiers 
there, describing the uniform as 'a suit of black, the yoke 
striped with white, the pants of black muslin with a stripe of 
white down the side, the mask of white for the head, of the same 
material as the sack, holes for the mouth and eyes trimmed 
with black. The disguise for the horse was of the same material 
as the man's, with a large white star in the forehead.' 

One Southern writer who, if not himself a member of the 
Klan, seemed to possess a surprisingly great store of first-hand 
information, gives this description of the men seen conducting 
one raid: 

'The horses' bodies were completely enveloped in curtains of 

62 Invisible Empire 

black cloth, worn under the saddle, and fastened at the neck 
to a corselet of the same material, the skirts of the former ex- 
tending below their knees. Over their heads were masks, of 
much the same description as those worn by their riders, the 
material being of a dark color and openings of suitable width 
having been contrived for the eyes and nostrils. Each steed 
was decorated also with a white plume, carried vertically above 
the head; and on the right and left of the housings of black 
cloth which enveloped their bodies appeared the mystical 
letters "K K K." Their trappings otherwise were army saddles 
of uniform pattern, and bridles supplied with the regulation bit 
used in both armies at the close of the war. 

*The riders who bestrode these steeds were even more fan- 
tastically arrayed; and in the uniform which they wore the same 
sacrifice of taste to picturesqueness was to be observed. The 
most prominent feature of their ghostly toilet was a long black 
robe, extending from the head to the feet and decorated with 
innumerable tin buttons an inch and a half in diameter, which 
under the influence of the starhght shone like miniature moons. 
These robes were slit in front and rear, in order that they might 
not impede the movement of the rider, and were secured about 
the waist with scarfs of red silk. Over their faces they wore 
masks of some heavy material; the appertures for the eyes, 
nose and mouth (which were ample for these purposes) being 
lined with red cloth. The head-dress was even more unique, 
and consisted of tall black caps, helmet-shaped, and provided 
with havelocks, resembling those used by the military in the 
late war. These also were decorated with the regulation 
buttons, and when worn by officers of commissioned rank, 
supplemented by gorgeous plumes, white, red or blue, ac- 
cording to rank. Each individual wore about his waist, in 
addition to the scarf, a belt supporting two large army pistols 
in scabbards; and on the flaps of the latter, embroidered in 
white characters, appeared the devices of the order — skull and 
crossbones, and the mystical K K K.' 

How the Klan Operated 63 

After making due allowance for the romantic exaggeration 
of this Sir Walter Scott style of narration, this may be accepted 
as an approximately accurate picture of the disguises used in 
one section of the Invisible Empire. The uniforrn worn in 
^^^^1 1 jritirftli?!!^^ ^^^^ described in graphic '3e!ail" by "Joseph 
W. Holden, son of Governor W. W. Holden of that state: 

'The costume is a long red gown with loose flowing sleeves, 
with a hood in which the appertures for the eyes, nose and 
mouth are trimmed with some red material. The hood has 
three horns, made out of some common cotton-stuff, in shape 
something like candy bags stuffed, and wrapped with red strings, 
the horns standing out on the front and sides of the hood. 
It is a large, loose gown, covering the whole person quite 
closely, buttoned close around and reaching from the head clear 
down to the floor, covering the feet and dragging on the ground. 
It is made of bleached linen, starched and ironed, and in the 
night by moonlight it glitters and rattles. Then there is a hood 
with holes cut in for eyes, and a nose six or eight inches long 
made of cotton cloth stuffed with cotton and lapped with red 
braid half an inch wide. The eyes are lined with the braid, 
and the eyebrows are made of the same. The cloth is lined with 
red flannel. Then there is a long tongue sticking out about six 
inches and so fixed that it can be moved about by the man's 
tongue. Then in the mouth are large teeth, which are very 
frightful. Then under the tongue is a leather bag placed inside 
so that when the man calls for water he pours it inside the bag 
and not into his mouth at all.' 

James Justice of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, who was 
taken out and whipped by the Ku Klux, managed to maintain 
his composure sufficiently to give the following description of 
the costumes worn by the men who assailed him: 'Some had 
disguises and some had strange fixings over their bodies. The 
greatest number had nothing to disguise them except a mask 
over their heads and faces, with a large crown-piece and with 

64 Invisible Empire 

a very large face. The places where the eye-holes and the 
mouth were cut was bound around with some reddish stuff, 
and there was either a white strip sewn on or something painted 
for a nose. Some had very long white beards. Some had horns 
which were erect; others had horns that lopped over like a 
mule's ears; and their caps came to a point with tassels. One 
had on a red suit out and out — a great deal like those I have 
seen on clowns in circuses. There were a number of stripes 
on each arm; something bright like silver lace, like stripes on a 
sergeant's sleeves. There was something on the breast of one of 
them, something round — of a circular form.' 

These descriptions give a good idea of the type of costumes 
affected in the Carolinas, in which states the horns were es- 
pecially popular. Everywhere there was evident a tendency, 
as time wore on, to depart from the simplicity of the early 
costumes and add ornamentation of one kind or another. 
In Arkansas it was said: 'The horses and the men were con- 
cealed by masks; gowns and trappings made of black calico 
bespangled with glittering, metallic cabalistic signs.' A head- 
dress used by a Tennessee Cyclops was heavily ornamented 
with gold braid, with black lace over the orifices for the eyes and 
nose. Some went in for hirsute adornment, a Mississippi negro 
thus describing those who visited him: 'They wore just loose 
gowns, very much like a study gown; a loose gown put on over 
the neck, hanging down nearly to the feet, made out of cheap 
calico. On the face there were some whiskers, made of hair 
taken from a cow's tail probably.' A similar fancy was re- 
ported by a man who saw some Ku Klux in Huntsville, Ala- 
bama: 'The disguises were calico robes loosely worn, and then 
a disguise over the face. There was long hair on the face, about 
a foot long, coming out as if it were mustaches, hanging down 
at least a foot.' Another Huntsville man who saw some of the 
Ku Klux there in 1869 drew a distinction between them and the 
first Ku Klux he had seen in Tennessee: 'What I call our home- 

How the Klan Operated 65 

made Ku Klux have rather a cheap rig on by the side of our 
ordinary Ku Klux. This gown I found was just a loose gown 
with big long sleeves to it, and then they have a piece of the 
long gown thrown up over the head if they want to; but it has 
eye-holes and all Christendom could not tell who was in it just 
by seeing the eyes. What I call the Tennessee Ku Klux had a 
very good rig. They look pretty well, with a red coat trimmed 
off with black, and when they threw the piece up over it was 
lined with different color from the rest. They had a sort of 
rubber capes with fixings to come all over them in a rain 

Georgia witnesses described the Ku Klux they had seen in 
such phrases as these: 'They are always dressed in such a kind 
of uniform that you can not tell who they are. They have on 
false faces and some with long beards, some with long hats, 
and some with no hats at all, some with long ears, some with 
big eyes, and some with long noses.' 'They had on some sort 
of a dress with some rings around their eyes and a coat with a 
star on each shoulder — at least the captain had — with a 
representation of the moon on his back, under the stars, and 
something fixed to his hair and hanging down so that it looked 
like great whiskers.' 'Their uniforms previous to that had been 
white robes, and their horses were always dressed in white 
when they turned out. That night when they came to my 
house they had on black masks and were dressed in black.' 

From all this it will be seen that there was a vast difference 
in the vestments used in various parts of the Invisible Empire; 
difference, in fact, between the uniforms of closely neighboring 
Dens. This difference in the color of the disguises worn was 
the means of impeaching the testimony of a government witness 
in the trial of the accused Ku Klux in Oxford, Mississippi, in 
1870. Joe Davis, a negro, swore that he had been forced to 
accompany a band of white men who, in the Ku Klux disguise, 
went to the home of a negro named Jack Dupree and took 

66 Invisible Empire 

him out and whipped him. Davis said that he held the horses 
while Dupree was taken off and whipped; and that when the 
white men came back to the horses, unaccompanied by Dupree, 
they said that they had not only whipped him but 'had cut his 
damned guts out.' At any rate, Dupree disappeared that night 
and was never seen again. 

Davis was a willing, eager witness for the government and 
glibly identified all the accused participants by name. He over- 
reached himself, however, when he attempted to tell about the 
disguise worn by the Ku Klux party he claimed to have ac- 
companied on their murderous raid. It was a red and black 
disguise, Joe testified, describing it in detail. Shortly prior to 
this time a Ku Klux uniform had been captured in Pontotoc, 
Mississippi, and had been stuffed and hung up to the limb of a 
tree in the main street of the town as an exhibit. Joe had 
evidently seen this disguise and studied it closely, for his de- 
scription fitted it very accurately. It happened, however, that 
all the witnesses who had actually seen the party that Ku 
Kluxed Jack Dupree were unanimous in their testimony that 
the members of the party wore white disguises. This led to the 
strong suspicion that Davis had not really seen the raiding party 
at all, much less been a member of it; and it was eventually 
shown that he had admitted that he did not know anybody 
connected with the Ku Klux organization. 

It was a general rule that members of a Ku Klux raiding 
party should refrain from all unnecessary conversation. In fact, 
generally they did not speak at all except to exchange snatches 
of meaningless gibberish or to groan loudly and dismally in 
simulation of the sufferings of a departed spirit. It was a part 
of the Ku Klux regulations that every member should be sup- 
plied with a whistle — which made 'a shrill, gurgling noise' — 
and blasts of the whistle instead of spoken commands were used 
in giving orders when on a raid. If the Cyclops sounded his 
whistle when they were at rest it was equivalent to the order 

How the Klan Operated 67 

*March.' Three blasts served as a warning, of danger; and four 
blasts as a call for aid. Members of a Ku Klux party were never 
called by their names, but by numbers. These numbers varied 
from time to time, as they had different methods of numbering. 
Sometimes they would start with one, the Cyclops being Number 
One, and assume numbers in regular rotation. Sometimes they 
would start numbering at one hundred, or perhaps five hun- 
dred, use of the larger numbers being effective in creating an 
exaggerated idea of the size of a Ku Klux band. 

/- (The procedure followed on a raid depended on a great many 
factors — the offense of the victim and the temperament and 
inclinations of the leader of the raiding party. During the 
earlier, orderly days, the Klansmen rarely did anything more 

r-than warn the negroes to 'behave themselves' or notify some 
especially obnoxious carpetbagger that he would have to leave 
town. These warnings were accompanied by the most hor- 
rendous threats of what would happen to them if their com- 
mands were not obeyed, but the warnings were frequently re- 
peated several times before any drastic action was really taken. 
The principal desire was to scare the negroes into a submissive 
spirit by means of gruesome threats — 'We boil niggers' heads 
and make soup'; * We'll skin you alive'; 'We'll take you for a 
trip over the moon'; 'We live off of fried nigger meat'; and so 
on, depending on the imagination of the threatener. 

In a great number of instances this was all that was necessary. 
The carpetbagger would leave town or the negro would steer 
his course down the strait and narrow path, and all would be 
well. But some carpetbaggers refused to be stampeded into 
departure; some negroes did not believe in ghosts and were not 
terrified by browbeating. This created a serious problem of 
procedure. Obviously the Ku Klux would quickly lose power 
if it began to appear that their orders could be disobeyed with 
impunity and that their threats were never backed up by action. 
Action seemed imperatively indicated in these instances, and 

68 Invisible Empire 

it is not surprising that this action should have slipped into 
bloodshed and homicide, all conditions being considered. 

The principal basis for criticism of the Ku Klux was this 
violence which they sometimes employed and which eventually 
became synonymous with their name. By our advanced stand- 
ards of today it is difficult to justify, or even to understand how 
its apologists could justify, the corporal punishment of a fellow- 
man. It seems a brutal and sadistic mode of punishment, how- 
ever serious may have been the offense for which the recipient 
of the whipping was punished. But, in justice to the Ku Klux 
and their apparent lack of all milk ^f hii^^n l-ir.r1n^pp^ i^ mnc t 
be remembered that they should be judged by the standar ds 
[of their time; and by those standards the flogj^ng of a reca lci- 
trant n epro was nothing more unusual or inhumane than t he 
pu nishment of a disobedient child by its parents. 

True enough, the more enlightened and advanced slave 
owners resorted to such whippings only as a matter of last 
resort, and then only in extreme cases of repeated disobedience 
or insubordination, or petty offenses against the law. Under 
the slave code the master was expected to regulate all such 
matters by his own authority without appealing to the consti- 
tuted courts; so the whipping of negroes, although by no means 
so common as represented by the abolitionists, was at least a 
recognized method of punishing negroes' offenses. 

Further precedent for the Ku Klux method of regulation 
was to be seen in the patrol system which prevailed in the slave 
states before emancipation. The law provided that every 
slave must be in his quarters before nine o'clock at night unless 
he had a pass from his master; and, to enforce this law, the 
justices of the peace had authority to maintain a regular system 
of patrols who rode through their precincts at regular intervals 
— once a week or once a month — to see that all negroes were 
at home after the curfew hour. White men of military age were 
subject to this duty as a public service, the same as they were 

How the Klan Operated 69 

subject to militia duty, and they served by assignment and 
without pay. When they found a negro prowUng about after 
nine o'clock without a pass they were empowered by the law to 
give him a whipping of not to exceed thirty-nine lashes (in some 
places the maximum was fifteen lashes); and this system of 
patrol and punishment was accepted as a regular and proper 
thing by both blacks and whites. The negroes' comic song: 
*Runj Nigger, Run; the Patterrole'U Catch You,' was based on 
their well-established anxiety about being caught out by 
these patrols — there was no question of the patrols' right to 
administer punishment. 

When the white people after the war were confronted with 
the problem of the growing irresponsibility and disorderliness 
of the recently freed negroes, with no adequate restraint avail- 
able through the then existing law courts, it was not entirely 
unnatural for them to turn for relief to an extra-legal imitation 
of that patrol system which had been a legal and recognized 
part of the system of government before the war. It was, of 
course, illegal for them thus to take the law into their own 
hands in this way; but the methods they pursued, cruel as -f^ 
they may now appear, were by no means a radical innovation 
or necessarily an evidence of innate brutality. 

When the Ku Klux first started to operating as regulators 
they were apparently as reluctant to resort to the lash as were 
the pre-war slave owners. When they did administer a whipping 
they generally minimized it in their own discussion of it. 
*We gave him a light whipping'; 'We decided to give him a 
little brushing'; 'We straightened him out with a hickory' — 
such euphemisms were commonly employed. But as the 
character of the Klan's personnel began to degenerate, these 
whippings increased in frequency and severity; and the brutal 
excesses of this period of the Klan's degeneration find no 
apologist anywhere. They were as severely condemned by 
the Klan's leaders at the time as they are today. 

70 Invisible Empire 

That the Ku Klux resorted to homicide in extreme cases 
^ ^ is beyond question; but it is also a fact that the number of 
(j, killings attributed to them was very greatly exaggerated. 
It became the fashion during those days to attribute every 
murder and every rumored murder to the Ku Klux, and in 
the Northern press these were magnified for political purposes. 
Some of these murders probably were committed by assassins 
who used the familiar disguise of the Ku Klux as a cloak; but 
the genuine Ku Klux resorted to the death penalty only in the 
most extreme cases where, by their code, such a penalty was 
justified by the enormity of the offense or by self-defense. By 
way of palliation it has been pointed out that most of the Ku 
Klux were ex-soldiers and that this was during a period follow- 
ing four years of bloody war when life had become cheap. 
It is not an excuse for murder to say that men under these 
circumstances could not be expected to have the same regard 
for the sanctity of human life as those who had not been sub- 
jected to the brutalities of war, but it is at least an explanation 
of the frame of mind which made it possible for a group of 
men to assume the powers of executioners without a feeling of 
utter revulsion at their own presumption^ 
^ In normal times such a course of procedure would have been 

universally execrated; but these were not normal times, and 
the report of the hearings before the Congressional Committee 
is full of such expressions as: 'It is a desperate remedy, but there 
is no denying that it has done a lot of good'; and 'It was the 
only manner of punishing criminals in this country, and they 
think they did exactly right'; and 'It is a terrible thing for such 
a thing as this to occur, but ultimate good will follow from it,' 
and so on. 

*We are a rough lot of boys,' cried one of a band of Ku Klux 
as they galloped into a little Alabama town one night. And 
rough boys they were, indeed. 


The Realms of the Empire 



ENNESSEE WAS THE CRADLE of the Ku Klux, and it was 
in this state that it enjoyed its most widespread and most 
powerful influence. Violence and bloodshed were rare in this 
state; but the Klan wielded its mysterious influence in practi- 
cally all the counties outside of East Tennessee, and in some of 
these counties it was for a while, in effect, the governing power. 

The Reconstruction troubles in Tennessee find their root 
as far back as 1862, while the war was still raging. In that year 
the Union army succeeded in getting possession of Middle and 
West Tennessee, which sections of the state were strongly pro- 
Confederate in sentiment. The Confederates, on the other 
hand, were able to cling to East Tennessee, in which section the 
sentiment was predominantly pro-Union. All sections of the 
state, therefore, found themselves forced to live temporarily 
under civil governments which were antagonistic to the popular 
majorities; and this antagonism, along with the friction already 
existing between the Unionists of East Tennessee and the other 
residents of the state, contributed to a topsy-turvy political 
situation whose complexities vexed the state for more than ten 

As soon as the Union military forces took possession of Middle 
Tennessee, including Nashville, the state capital, civil law was 
suspended in the state by General Grant, who proclaimed 

74 Invisible Empire 

martial law, and Andrew Johnson was appointed military 
governor by President Lincoln. Johnson's regime was very 
oppressive on the Confederate sympathizers, whom he sharply 
denounced as traitors, and his hard-handed administration of 
the law greatly embittered this class of the population. Among 
other distasteful measures, he prescribed and enforced an 'iron- 
clad' oath, which few of the native citizens could honestly and 
conscientiously take. It was officially called an amnesty oath; 
but the people called it the 'damnasty' oath. 

The Federal troops finally conquered East Tennessee late in 
1863, but civil government was not restored until March, 1865, 
when the notorious William G. Brownlow, better known as 
'Parson' Brownlow, was elevated to the governorship in a 
farcical election. 

When the new Radical legislature assembled in Nashville in 
April, 1865, under Governor Brownlow, Tennessee's era of trial 
and tribulation began. A law was promptly enacted providing 
for the limitation of the elective franchise, the effect of which was 
to take the vote away from all ex- Confederates and Confederate 
sympathizers, along with all white men who were not strictly 
pro-Radical in their views. Brownlow, by reason of his legalized 
authority over the registration of voters, really held the power to 
say who could and who could not vote. In Davidson County in 
July, 1867, the total registration was 6000, of which 1600 were 
whites and 4400 negroes; whereas before the war the total all- 
white registration was 6500. 

A special law was passed denying to ex- Confederates the right 
to possess arms, but conferring this right on 'loyal' men — 
almost the entire body of so-called loyal men in Middle and 
West Tennessee at this time being negroes. Also, a state guard 
was authorized, this also to be composed of 'loyal' men; this in 
addition to the United States troops who were quartered in the 
state. The system of law enforcement broke down almost com- 
pletely, and convictions for such common offenses as murder, 

Tennessee 75 


rape and arson were hard to obtain. Furthermore, even when 
criminals were convicted they seldom served their time, as 
Governor Brownlow was liberal and prompt with pardons for 
Radical offenders. 

To quote the Congressional Committee's minority report: 
The great mass of the people of Tennessee felt that they were 
outiawed and denied the protection of government. They felt 
that they had no right of person or of property respected by the 
ruHng powers. They believed that they were purposely dis- 
armed and that, being so, whatever they loved or prized was at 
the mercy of an ignorant race, whose ignorance and whose 
passions were being played upon by corrupt parties, with sinis- 
ter purposes, and an internecine warfare was painfully appre- 
hended. Under these circumstances, and at such a time, pro- 
duced by this most unhappy legislation and rule, many impul- 
sive men felt that their only means of personal safety and pro- 
tection to themselves, their wives, their daughters, their mothers, 
their sisters and their helpless ones, was in secret organization. 
While all history attests their mistake, all history attests that it is 
the resort of the oppressed against the oppressor. And while we 
may and do condemn secret political organizations, we con- 
demn with equal severity the tyranny of the oppressor out of 
which they have their birth.' 

While Brownlow was exercising his peculiar talent for creating 
discord and cooking up his hell's broth of misgovernment, the 
organizers of the Loyal League had also been busy and soon 
had the League thoroughly established throughout the state. 
Wherever a League blossomed trouble was sure to follow, and in 
1867 this trouble was intensified by the approaching election, in 
which campaign the Radical orators inflamed the negroes 
against the whites and provoked them to deeds of violence. In 
Frankhn, for example, the members of the League kept the 
citizens in a constant state of alarm by marching through the 
town, night after night, making noisy demonstrations with fife 

7^ Invisible Empire 

and drum and boisterous shouts, and flourishing their weapons. 
The explosion came when a Conservative negro had the temer- 
ity to attempt to make a political speech, and the armed League 
members broke up the meeting and marched away firing their 
guns into the air. That night there was a fatal clash between a 
parade of the exulting negroes of the League and an armed 
party of Conservatives, black and white, who attempted to pre- 
vent their demonstrating on the Public Square. When the gun- 
fire subsided and the smoke cleared away one white Conserva- 
tive was dead and six white and seven negro members of that 
party were wounded, along with twenty-seven wounded 

As a result of this riot, and similar clashes in other parts of the 
state, fears were expressed that there would be serious trouble 
on election day, and leaders of both parties worked together to 
prevent bloodshed. In Memphis, General Forrest organized a 
body of volunteer police who co-operated with the city police 
department on election day to prevent outbreaks; and in the 
other cities of the state similar efforts were made to insure peace, 
with the result that the casualties on election day were held to a 
minimum. But the atmosphere still crackled with the electricity 
of restrained hostility. 

Friction between the native white people and the freed 
negroes had been growing steadily in all sections of Tennessee 
ever since the war. Even in the eastern part of the state, the pro- 
Union and Abolition stronghold, Brownlow's own newspaper, 
the Knoxville Whig, reported rapidly increasing^^bitterness 
bet ween the race s. White people, the paper said, were being 
wantonly insulted by negroes who 'frequently elbow unpro- 
tected white women off our narrow pavements, and curse white 
men passing them, just to show their authority.' The Republi- 
can Banner in Nashville reported many murders by negroes 
throughout the state; and in Memphis acts of violence by the 
negro troops garrisoned there became so frequent that the 

Tennessee 77 

presiding judge of the county, Judge Thomasj^on ard, ask ed 
that two regiments of white Tederal troops be stationed in 
Memphis to protect the white citizens against the negro soldiers' 
robberies, assaults and murders. The negro soldiers not only 
committed these offenses themselves, but they crowded the 
saloons of the city and constituted a serious disturbing influence 
on the civilian negroes. This bad feeling grew so intense that in 
May, 1 866, there was precipitated a sanguinary race riot which 
lasted for three days and resulted in the killing of forty-six 
negroes and two white men, the wounding of seventy-five others 
and the destruction of property to the value of $130,000, in- 
cluding the burning of ninety-one negro dwelhngs, four negro 
churches and twelve negro schools. 

. This was the only major outbreak in the state, but it kept the 
fires of apprehension fanned; and detachments of Brownlow's 
militia stationed at various points in the state served to irritate 
the citizens and keep them reminded of the oppressive Brownlow 
regime. In some localities the white citizens began to organize 
informal local groups for self-protection. Even in East Tennes- 
see there was talk of forming a 'White Man's Party' to prevent 
the negroes from gaining control of the state. There was a 
general feeling of uneasiness and alarm. The citizens felt that 
their well-being was menaced, but they did not know exactly 
what to do about it. 

It was just about this time that the madcap young men of 
Pulaski organized their skylarking local club which they called 
the Ku Klux Klan, little dreaming of the dread portent which 
that name was to come to have. As the trouble with the negroes 
grew, and as the alarm of the people was intensified in propor- 
tion to the secret and apparently hostile organizations of the 
former slaves, there was a natural gravitation to the idea of 
forming some sort of c ounter-organiza tion^of a defensive nature; 
and the local success of the Ku Klux Klan in Giles County 
caused it to be seized upon as a new and effective method of 

78 Invisible Empire 

procedure which might be used to advantage elsewhere in the 

The early growth of the Klan was slow, and it was not 
until about the first of 1868 that it began to be publicly recog- 
nized as a force to be reckoned with in Tennessee. There had 
been occasional references to the Ku Klux in the newspapers 
from time to time in 1867, but they were mostly of a facetious 
nature, and there was a general inclination to minimize the 
matter and laugh it off as a manifestation of boyish exuberance 
of trivial importance. The papers carried such items as *The 
Ku Klux paraded in Murfreesboro last night, 5000 to 7000 
strong. Some of them were so tall that they took the slates off 
the roof of the new church as they rode by.' The term 'Ku 
Klux' in those days carried the connotation of some sort of an 
elaborate practical joke. The average person laughed about it, 
then thought no more about it. 

But early in 1868 it began to dawn on the citizens, and on the 
newspaper editors, that the Ku Klux movement was something 
much more serious than they had thought — that it had some 
serious, possibly sinister, purpose. In its issue of February i the 
Nashville Union and Dispatch had an item entitled *The Ku Klux 
Klan — a Wonderful and Mysterious Order,' in which it 

*The secret brotherhood known as the Ku Klux Klan is 
probably the most extraordinary association that the present 
century has known. A member of the organization, when clad 
in the trappings of the order, is certainly a strange object. His 
robe of scarlet, or of somber black, as the case may be, loose- 
flowing from the waist to the feet, is rather an Oriental affair 

and would do for the heroes of the Arabian Nights He gets 

over the ground with a gliding motion, as if fearful that the 
horrible cowl which hides his face, and from which a pair of 
glittering eyes almost pierce the beholder, might by some un- 
toward accident be thrown aside or lose its power of conceal- 



ment. . . . When first organized it was generally understood that 
the society was a benevolent association, its design the relief of 
the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers. ... If what is 
alleged of them now can be anywhere near the truth, it can not 
be doubted that the unprecedented conduct of armed Leagues 
organized to terrify Conservatism has led to the retaliation.' 

News items reporting operations of the Ku Klux in various 
parts of Tennessee were plentiful in the papers throughout 
1868. A warning was received by a man in Livingston; masked 
bands were seen in Van Buren County; the tax collector of 
Sumner County received a terrifying warning letter couched in 
the studiously bad grammar and worse spelling which so 
frequently characterized the Ku Klux missives. On May 12 a 
Nashville paper carried a report of a Ku Klux parade in Mur- 
freesboro the preceding Saturday night: They were all dressed 
in uniforms and their horses caparisoned in the usual style. 
They commenced to parade about nine o'clock and kept it up 
until after midnight.' The Ku Klux were so bold and so well 
established in Murfreesboro that they drilled regularly in one of 
the open lots near town, like a military company, in full panoply 
and without any attempt at concealment. *A Desperate Affray 
at Fayetteville' was the heading over a story of a 'general fight' 
there between a number of Union men and 'a party of Con- 
servatives, supposed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan.' 
A negro named Robert Hogg in Marshall County was reported 
killed by a white man described as 'an ex-Rebel soldier' and 
also as 'a desperate and reckless character to be feared and 
dreaded.' No attempt had been made to arrest him, it was 
stated in a Radical paper in Nashville, and 'the presence of the 
Ku Klux Klan gives to the desperado, unless extraordinary 
means are used, almost certain immunity from arrest.' From 
Lincoln County came the report that a negro named Dave 
Walker had received a note signed 'Ku Klux' which said: 
'We, the Ku Klux Company, notify you to leave the county 

8o Invisible Empire 

within ten days or we will take the matter in hand and we will 
raise you as high as Haman.' 

There was an ominous stir of Ku Klux activity all over the 
state in the latter part of 1868 and first of 1869. *The Klan 
seems to be more insatiate and rampant since the election than 
before,' said one newspaper comment; and the papers every day 
carried such headlines as 'Ku Klux Rampant in Coffee County'; 
'Negroes of Bedford and Coffee County Whipped'; 'Ku Klux in 
Gibson County'; 'Ku Klux Seen at Brentwood,' and so on. 

In January, 1869, the Nashville papers carried headlines: 
'Trouble in Overton County — The Ku Klux Rampant and 
Threatening — The Town of Livingston in a State of Siege — 
A Civil War Imminent.' Nor was this alarming summary of 
events very much of an exaggeration. A few nights previously 
a band of Ku Klux had galloped into Livingston, where they 
were met by a doughty band of armed negroes who fired into 
the raiders from ambush. The Ku Klux retreated, leaving 
five horses and as many of their 'shrouds' in the hands of the 
jubilant negroes. The Klansmen, however, were not satisfied 
with this inglorious end to their foray; and the following week 
they returned in larger numbers and demanded of a prominent 
Union man that their property be returned to them, awaiting 
which they boldly pitched their camp on the edge of the town. 
The Collector of Internal Revenue at Livingston, a Mr. 
Stroheimer, was so terrified by the presence of the besieging Ku 
Klux that he bought the horses back from the negroes with his 
own money and took them out to the Klansmen's camp as a 
peace offering, whereupon they retired and left Livingston in 

From Maury County it was reported that 'not less than 400 
guns and pistols have been taken from the freedmen of this 
county by the Ku Klux during the last month'; and Ku Klux 
news of some kind from Maury County was almost a daily 
affair, as this county was completely under the domination of the 

Tennessee 8i 

Ku Klux for a period of about two years or more. Nearly all 
the able-bodied young men were active members, while the dis- 
abled veterans of the war and the elderly citizens were advisers 
and supporters and helpers. Army and militia officers railed and 
fumed; Freedmen's Bureau agents wrote frequent and eloquent 
letters of protest to their superiors; but so long as the Grand 
Wizard's reign continued, Maury County was a loyal province 
of the Invisible Empire. 

One of the earliest and most dramatic public manifestations 
of the power and the serious purposes of the Ku Klux in Tennes- 
see took place in this county early in 1868. John Bicknell, a 
highly regarded young dentist of Columbia, while riding along 
the highway in the direction of Lawrenceburg on February 28, 
was murdered and robbed by a wayfaring man whom he had 
befriended by permitting him to ride behind him on his horse. 
The stranger (who gave several different names — Walker, 
Watts and Pitts) w^as later seen making his escape, mounted on 
Bicknell's horse; and he was pursued and captured by an un- 
disguised band of Columbia members of the Ku Klux, who took 
him to the jail in Columbia and turned him over to the sheriff. 
Bicknell had apparently been a member of the Klan, for when 
his funeral was held a group of twenty Klansmen, mounted and 
dressed in their white robes, 'with their horses appropriately 
caparisoned,' followed the procession to the cemetery and 
remained there in silence while the ceremonies were proceeding 
at the grave. 

That night the murderer, who had meanwhile confessed, was 
taken from the jail by a band of Ku Klux who rode into town 
from a southerly direction and was conducted to the near-by 
bank of Duck River to be hanged. He asked for the privilege of 
saying a prayer before the noose was placed about his neck, 
which request was granted; but when the Ku Klux knelt with 
him to pray he unceremoniously jumped into the river, swam 
across and made his escape. Stopping at a farmhouse to dry 

82 Invisible Empire 

himself and get warm, he was recognized and taken back to 
the jail and lodged in his cell again. Not to be thwarted by this 
interruption in their plans, the Ku Klux rode into town again 
that night, removed him from jail and took him to a thicket a 
mile from town on the Pulaski pike, where he was hanged 
without ceremony. 

A local newspaper account of the affair stated that *None of 
the strange horsemen were known to the citizens of Columbia, 
and the young men of that place who were members of the Ku 
Klux Klan, it is said, took no part in the proceedings.' This was 
in conformity with the standard Ku Klux custom of having such 
work done by squads of Klansmen from a near-by town or 
community, so that the local boys could have air-tight alibis. 
In this instance the executioners, it will be observed, rode into 
town from *a southerly direction'; and it seems a reasonable 
assumption that they came from Pulaski. Pulaski, being the 
point of origin of the order, was a conspicuously active center 
of Ku Klux activity so long as the organization lived. 

Pulaski was the scene of one of the Klan's earliest public 
demonstrations when, on June 4, 1867, they held an elaborate 
parade, declared to be in honor of their 'first anniversary.' On 
the preceding morning there were found posted all over town 
printed handbills saying: 

To the Chapters of the Central Division: 

The pale moon changes. Soon the skies will be bright. All is 
well. The Grand Turks will make full reports. Each chapter 
will march promptly to the Hall of Banners, and the grand 
ceremonies will commence precisely at 12 o'clock midnight, 
on Wednesday next. The Chapter will take up the march at 
precisely 9 o'clock. They will parade the principal streets and 
thence to the Hall of Banners. All Chapters will be prompt. 
Let all hope for success to our first anniversary. 

By order of the G. G. S. 

G. G. G. 

Tennessee 83 

An interesting account of the demonstration is taken from the 
next issue of the Pulaski Citizen, which was in position to have 
all the best inside information: 

*On Tuesday morning these notices were found posted con- 
spicuously all over town. All wondered and many expressed 
the belief that it was all a hoax, and that there was no such thing 
as a Kuklux Klan. Believing that there was some reality in it, 
we, with many others, were on the look-out at an early hour 
Wednesday night. About 10 o'clock we discovered the head of 
the column as it came over the hill west of the square. The 
crowd waited impatiently for their approach. A closer view 
discovered their banners and transparencies, with all manner of 
mottoes and devices, spears, sabres, &c. The column was led by 
what we supposed to be the Grand Cyclops, who had on a flow- 
ing white robe and a white hat about eighteen inches high. 
He had a very venerable and benevolent looking face, and long 
silvery locks. He had an escort on each side of him bearing 
brilliant transparencies. The master of the ceremonies was 
gorgeously caparisoned, and his "toot, toot, toot," on a very 
graveyard-ish looking instrument, seemed to be perfectly under- 
stood by every Ku Kluxer. Next to the G. C. there followed two 
of the tallest men out of jail. One of them had on a robe of 
many colors, with a hideous mask, and a transparent hat, 
in which he carried a brilliant gas lamp, a box of matches and 
several other articles. It is said that he was discovered taking a 
bottle from a shelf in his hat, and that he and his companion 
took several social drinks together. The other one had on a 
blood-red hat which was so tall that we never did see the top of 
it. They conversed in Dutch, Hebrew, or some other language 
which we couldn't comprehend. No two of them were dressed 
alike, all having on masks and some of them fanciful costumes. 
One fellow out-Falstaffed Falstaff in appearance. There 
seemed to be about seventy-five in the procession, with several 
darting about occasionally over town. 

84 Invisible Empire 

*When the procession reached Third Street the master of the 
ceremonies with a "toot, toot," turned the head of the column 
up that street towards the depot. On reaching the first cross 
street, "toot, toot" went the horn, and they filed to the left up 
to Second Street, up which they marched towards the bridge. 
A single "toot" now threw the procession into single file, and 
they marched over to First Street, and Ku Kluxed up and down 
that street for some time. A long, twisted "t-o-ot" gave the 
order to counter-march, and they slowly marched to the 
square. Here the scene was truly imposing, and the "toot, 
toot's" more frequent. After going around the square several 
times, a succession of loud and rapid "toots" rallied the whole 
squad around the grand old Cy, who seemed to impart some 
important information to them, when they rapidly marched 
off the square towards the Methodist church. Here they turned 
down towards the town spring, and the hundreds of astonished 
and admiring spectators, composed of ladies and gentlemen, 
children and dogs, waited patiently for their return. But they 
never came back. Gradually their lights went out, and nothing 
more was heard from them except an occasional faint "toot" 
as they slowly continued their pilgrimage over East Hill.' 

The Pulaski Ku Klux appeared to enjoy appearing in public. 
Later in the summer a small group of them, on foot, went to the 
Tennessee House at midnight, aroused the landlord and told 
him that they wished to arrange for accommodations for the 
night for sixty-five of their band who 'had traveled on foot 1 75 
miles since breakfast and were a little fatigued.' The landlord 
protested that he could care for only twenty, and the Cyclops 
said he would send that many 'and you see that they lack for 
nothing' — but they never came. Sometimes small bands of a 
half-dozen or more would ride through the streets at night, 
chattering in a meaningless gibberish, and galloping their 
horses up and down the streets. 

In August, 1867, they made a sensational appearance at a 

Tennessee 85 

well-attended 'evening picnic,' riding up to the picnic grove 
out of the darkness in all their sepulchral whiteness. 'The ladies 
for a few minutes were a little frightened at their hideous faces 
and fancy costumes,' wrote an eye-witness, 'but they were 
assured by the one calling himself the Grand Cyclops that their 
mission was one of peace and protection, especially so far as the 
ladies were concerned, and that the powerful right arm of each 
of the numerous brothers of the Kuklux Klan then within the 
sound of the grand bugler would be raised to strike down the 
coward who would dare insult the modesty and dignity of any 
lady present. Thus assured, the ladies crowded around them, 

and in a few minutes they were the toasts of the evening 

They stayed until the party commenced dispersing and then 
disappeared as mysteriously as they came.' 

Another active center of Ku Klux work in Middle Tennessee 
for a while was Clarksville, in Montgomery County. One of 
the meeting places of the Klan there was in the basement of the 
old Stewart's College; and one old Ku Klux relates that he was 
initiated into the order in this room by Captain John W. 
Morton, when Morton went to Clarksville to get the Klan 
organized there. Another place of meeting was Dunbar's Cave, 
a cavern near Clarksville which was a popular resort for pic- 
nics and outings — but a place carefully avoided by the negroes 
after dark. On March 17, 1868, there was found on a tree near 
Clarksville a broadside which read: 

Dunbar's Sepulchre, Bloody Month 
Cloudy Moon, Muddy Hour. 

Shrouded Brothers of Fort Donelson, Division No. 51 of the 

Great Circle: 

Burst your cerements asunder! Meet at the Den! 'The glow 

worm shows the motion to be near.' Silence! Watchfulness!! 

Patience ! ! ! Faithfulness ! ! ! ! The guilty shall be punished!!!!! 

By order of the Senior Grand Cyclops 

Herndon, GS 

86 Invisible Empire 

Further evidence of the Klan in Clarksville was given by 
the following order found posted in town a short while after- 

Dunbar's Sepulchre, Bloody Month 
Cloudy Moon, Last Hour. 

Special Order No. 2. 

Shrouded Brothers of Fort Donelson, Division No. 51. 

The Great Past Grand Giant commands you. The dark and 
dismal hour draws nigh. Some live to-day, to-morrow die. 
The Whetted Sword, the Blade, the Bullet red and the Right 
are ours. Be Vigilant to-day. Mark well our friends. Let the 
guilty beware. 

By order of the Great Grand Cyclops 

G G T 
Herndon, GS 

According to a newspaper comment, the appearance of this 
poster in Clarksville 'created more excitement in the city than 
anything since Lee's surrender.' 

On account of the strong Union sentiment in East Tennessee, 
the Ku Klux Klan did not become estabhshed in that part of 
the state; but from Middle Tennessee it spread rapidly to the 
western portion and soon became a powerful factor in West 
Tennessee, not only in Memphis but in the other counties west 
of the Tennessee River as well. 

An indication of their power in that section was provided by 
an episode in Obion County early in 1 868 when a party of Ku 
Klux visited an old man, a scalawag, in the southern part of the 
county who had been encouraging the negroes to thoughts of 
social equality and gave him what one of them later described 
as 'a little licking.' He promptly went to Union City and swore 
out warrants against thirteen citizens, charging them with being 
his assailants; and the next day they were brought to trial. The 
news of the arrest spread quickly throughout the county, and 

Tennessee 87 

early in the morning of the day of the trial an extraordinarily 
large number of armed horsemen were seen on the roads going 
in the direction of Union City. There was a dense woods close 
to the town at that time, and by the time of the trials there were 
fifteen hundred men gathered in this forest, a few hundred 
yards from the center of the town; and there they rested at ease, 
in complete silence, while the trials were proceeding. The ac- 
cused Ku Klux were able to prove an alibi to the satisfaction of 
the magistrates before whom they were arraigned, and were 
discharged. A horseman rode out to the woods with the news, 
and the Ku Klux force investing the city melted away as silently 
and mysteriously as it had assembled, and all was peaceful 

One of the centers of great Ku Klux activity in Tennessee 
was in Wayne County; and an episode occurring there in 
August, 1868, furnished one of the most remarkable manifes- 
tations of the extraordinary boldness with which the Klan con- 
ducted its work and the extent to which it had come to be 
accepted as a normal feature of current life. 

This trouble, like so many others, had its beginning in the 
root of all evil. A party of Ohio capitalists had come to this 
county after the war and opened an iron furnace, known as 
Boyd's Furnace, where they employed something like one 
hundred negroes in mining the ore. The white men of the 
vicinity were jealous of the negroes, due to the black men's 
willingness to work for low wages, and wanted to drive them 
away. The Northern superintendent of the operation, on the 
other hand, pointed out that he was getting the ore out of the 
mines for a dollar and a half a ton with the negroes, whereas it 
would cost six dollars if he had to employ white labor. Natu- 
rally he was slow to see the advisability of making a change. 

The jealous white natives undertook to play on the fears of 
the negroes by telling them fearsome stories of what the dread 
Ku Klux Klan would do to them unless they gave up their jobs 

88 Invisible Empire 

and went away, and some of the negroes by this means were 
scared off. A majority of the bolder ones, however, organized 
themselves into a militia company, procured muskets and every 
night held drills on the public highway. Genuinely alarmed by 
this manifestation, the white men of the community sent word 
to the foreman of the furnace that if the drilling was not stopped 
they would 'take the matter in hand and disband them by 
force.' This served only to increase the alarm of the negroes, 
who, supported by the Radical whites, redoubled their martial 

The Ku Klux construed the negroes' activities as threatening 
and loaded with potential danger; and on the fifteenth of 
August, in the morning about nine o'clock, a band of about 
sixty of the Klan, mounted in full panoply, marched from 
Clifton through Waynesboro to the furnace. What transpired 
upon their arrival there is best told in the words of the official 
report of the United States Army officer who later investigated 
the affair: 

'They molested no one and no one molested them while 
passing through Waynesboro; and when they got to the furnace 
the leader inquired for the foreman, who came out to meet them, 
while all the colored men took to the woods in the greatest 
fright. As soon as the foreman spoke, the leader of the Ku Klux 
threw up his mask and told the foreman that their object was a 
peaceful one, that they did not want to injure anyone, but would 
like to talk with the negroes. The foreman told the leader of the 
Ku Klux that it was impossible to induce a negro on his place 
to speak to him unless he pledged himself upon honor not to use 
any violence. This the 'Cyclops' did, and after a little trouble 
the foreman induced the most intelligent of the negroes to come 
out of their hiding places and appear before the leader of the 
masked party, who talked to them kindly and told them that 
the Ku Klux were not their enemies, but that they would insist 
upon the negroes ceasing to drill and making the place insecure 

Tennessee 89 

for travelers, etc. By his advice, and the influence of the fore- 
man, the negroes were induced to give up their arms to the 
foreman, agreeing not to take them out of the store unless per- 
mission was granted to do so by the Superintendent of the 
works. With this understanding, which appeared satisfactory 
to all parties, the masked party left the furnace and for Clif- 
ton, via Waynesboro.' 

The sheriff of the county, E. F. Turman, had seen the Ku 
Klux when they rode through Waynesboro that morning, and 
such an audacious demonstration in broad daylight he con- 
sidered an unbearable affront to his official dignity. Something 
had to be done, so, taking two deputies with him, he rode out 
from Waynesboro in the direction of the furnace in belated pur- 
suit of them. About a half mile from town they met the masked 
party trotting leisurely down the road, returning from their 
mission at the furnace. Sheriff Turman and his deputies, un- 
dismayed by the superior numbers, drew up in the middle of the 
road and the sheriff demanded their surrender. The Ku Klux 
leader contemptuously replied to this suggestion: 'Go to hell,' 
and kept coming; whereupon the sheriff and his deputies fired 
wildly and ineffectually into the body of Klansmen and then 
rapidly retreated to Waynesboro, hotly pursued by the masked 

The sheriff and his men took refuge in the jail at Waynesboro, 
which was surrounded by a stockade; and from behind this 
stockade a party of eight or ten of the sherifTs henchmen 
exchanged shots with the Ku Klux — all this in broad daylight, 
just about high noon. After one or two fusillades, the Klansmen 
withdrew, leaving behind three wounded mules and some of 
their regalia. The terrified sheriff, fearful that the attack would 
be renewed, hastily gathered a posse of fifty- three men whom 
he posted in the stockade, with pickets on the pikes leading into 

As soon as news of this brush reached Nashville, General 

go Invisible Empire 

Carlin, who was in command there, sent Lieutenant-Colonel 
Joseph W. Gelray of the 45th United States Infantry to Waynes- 
boro to investigate the matter and make a complete report. 
Colonel Gelray appears to have been a man of rare diplomacy, 
impartiality and coolness; and as soon as he had arrived in 
Waynesboro and learned all the facts in the case he proposed 
that a committee of four citizens — two Republicans and two 
Democrats — accompany him to Clifton, the Ku Klux strong- 
hold in the county, and there confer with the leaders of the 
Klan, learn their grievances and objects and see what could be 
done towards making peace. 

Arrived in Clifton, Colonel Gelray promptly called a meeting 
of the citizens of that little town to discuss the state of affairs. 
Gelray made them a tactful talk, pointing out that such dis- 
turbances were ruining their material prosperity 'as well as 
their character as men and citizens.' The mention of material 
prosperity was an especially moving appeal, as all agreed that it 
would bankrupt the county to maintain for very long the posse 
then gathered in Waynesboro. Before adjourning the meeting, 
Gelray stated that he would be at the hotel until ten o'clock the 
following morning, and invited a conference with anybody 
who had any suggestions to make as to what might be done. 

About nine o'clock the next morning a party of citizens called 
on Colonel Gelray, headed by a Mr. R. A. Allisson, who 
calmly introduced himself as the Cyclops of the Ku Klux there 
and stated that he was empowered to enter into a 'treaty of 
peace.' Gelray indicated that he thought this a reasonable pro- 
ceeding in the circumstances, whereupon Cyclops Allisson dic- 
tated the following remarkable document: 

'I, R. A. Allisson, of the County of Wayne and State of 
Tennessee, do hereby pledge my personal and official influence 
hereafter to obey and support the laws of Wayne County and 
the state of Tennessee, as they are now on the statute books of 
Wayne County and state aforesaid; and to aid the legally con- 

Tennessee 91 

stituted authorities to the extent of my power and influence in 
supporting and enforcing the same. I also do pledge that the 
organization of which I am the official head, known as the Ku 
Klux Klan, will lay aside their masks and disguises and will raid 
no more in the county; and that in case the above named 
organization or Klan, or any member of the same, should raid 
or attempt to raid, I will aid to the extent of my ability in ar- 
resting the party or parties, and turn them over to the county 
authorities whence they came; and I do further pledge that I 
have authority vested in me to give the above pledge on the 
following conditions, to-wit: That the Sheriff of Wayne County 
proceed to disband the posse under his control, in the manner 
prescribed by law; give up the stock captured by the posse or 
Sheriff, provided it be illegal for them or him to hold the same; 
and providing also that I be not held responsible for any act 
done by any party or parties under my control, prior to the date 
of this. If, however, the grand jury find true bills against me or 
any of the party under my control, I will not forcibly resist the 
law in my or their behalf 

Colonel Gelray, after getting Cyclops AUisson's signature to 
this unique peace treaty, rode back to Waynesboro, where he 
laid it before the sheriff and citizens, who at once agreed to it, 
and the sheriff wrote at the bottom of the document: 'I agree to 
the above; E. F. Turman, Sheriff of Wayne County.' The 
sheriff then disbanded his posse, and within a half hour there 
was not an armed man on the streets of Waynesboro. 

A curious effort at indirect intimidation of the Radicals was 
a letter published in the Hartsville Vidette of March 27, 1868, 
which the editor. Captain Frank McDuffy, said he hadjreceived 
from an anonymous correspondent in Lafayette, a small town 
in the same county. 'A raid will be made on your town from 
the northern part of the county,' this letter said, *with intent to 
break up the organization called the Ku Klux Klan, and to 
commit other depredations with that as an excuse. The raid 

92 Invisible Empire 

will probably be made within the coming week. Please give the 
K K K's warning.' The letter then went on to say, significantly: 
'Every negro and white man absent from home between this 
time and Saturday night will be counted as a member of the 
invading clan and treated accordingly. Radicals, white and 
black, are notified to govern themselves accordingly.' This 
was commonly regarded as a device to scare the Radicals into 
staying at home during the time specified, as there was an 
election to be held on the following Saturday. At any rate, 
there was no such raid as was threatened — but the Radical 
vote was very appreciably reduced. 

The beginning of the Ku Klux activities in Memphis was 
signalized by a good deal of newspaper publicity, the Ku Klux 
organizers, wherever it appeared, seeming to have an excellent 
appreciation of the value of advertising and a genius for getting 
plenty of it. On March i, 1868, there appeared in the Memphis 
Public Ledger an editorial headed 'The Ku Klux Klan — What 
Is It?' which said: 

'Those who in many instances have suffered from depreda- 
tions at the hands of active members of the Loyal Leagues have, 
as we are advised, organized an antagonistic society solely for 
the purpose of protecting persons and property. . . . There 
will be no violation of law by the Ku Klux, and others who do 
attempt wrongful acts may find a power interposing its authority 
which is terrible only to thieves and wrong-doers. It is said 
(with what degree of truthfulness others must determine) that 
the "Ku Klux" constitute already a strong organization in this 
county. If no other harm be done than that ascribed to the 
association in Middle Tennessee, there surely can be little 
reason for condemnation of a society which at worst is but a 
counterpart of the Loyal Leagues; with the recommendation 
added that while Leagues are composed of the most dangerous 
(because the most ignorant) people on the continent, members 
of the mystic association (the Ku Klux) are citizens of Tennes- 

Tennessee 93 

see and are permanently bound to the soil. These last are in- \ 
terested in the maintenance of order and good governmental 
while Loyal Leagues have everything to gain by public wrongs 
and disorders.' In a news item in the same issue the statement 
was made: 'The Ku Klux Klan is spreading all over the state.' 
That the 'mystic association' was already established in 
Memphis was indicated by the following item which appeared 
in the Public Ledger on March 1 1, 1868: 

FOUND, on Front Street last night, the folowing document of 
weird and significant import: 

K K K 

Wolf Hole, Bloody Month 
Fair Moon, First Hour 

General Orders No. i 

Shrouded Brothers of Memphis, Div. No. 60: 

In Hoc Signo ^^^^^^^ ^2 

The Great Grand Past Giant Commands You. The dark and 
dismal hour draws nigh. SOME LIVE TO-DAY — TO- 
The Bullet Red and the Right are Ours 

To-day, the i ith of the mortal's month of March, you will begin 
to scatter the clouds of the grave. 

On the next day, March 12, the Public Ledger carried this 
news item: 

K K K 

Mysterious Discharge of Firearms in Chelsea 

Is the Kuklux in Memphis 

Has the Great Grand Past Cyclops really emerged from 
'Wolf Hole,' marshalled his 'Shrouded Legions' to 'scatter the 

94 Invisible Empire 

clouds of the grave'? That's the question. [And more to that 

Then, after describing a report of the mysterious discharge of 
firearms in Chelsea (a suburb of Memphis), the news item 
continued: 'That the shots were actually heard we have from a 
gentleman residing in the above named vicinity who is in every 
way reliable, but further than this he was unable to inform us. 
Who can?' 

That the Public Ledger might be suspected of being a sort of 
official mouthpiece of the Ku Klux in Memphis was indicated 
by the following which appeared in the issue of March 1 7 : 

• TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following was 
found under our office door at an early hour this morning, 
where it was probably deposited by the storm of last night: 

K K K 
Wolf's Hole. Dark Moon, Fatal Hour 
The Grand Cyclops Commands you to assemble. 
The graves are opening, our brothers cry: 
'Traitors tried and traitors die 
*The hole is filling fast and deep 
'Which tried ones know, and ever keep.' 

On March 20 there was an editorial in the Ledger entitled 

* "Kuklux" Associations' which said that 'Whether there are 
such organizations in existence is more than we know. . . . When 
outrages cease, resistance will cease with them.' 

On the twenty-first the Ledger said: 'Let the government put 
down the thefts by negroes, and the crimes on the highways, 
and the abounded outrages which have been encouraged by 
Radical leaders, and we'll answer for it that all "Ku Klux 
Klans" (if such a thing exists at all) will cease at once.' 

lennessee 95 

Such news stories and editorials as these continued to appear 
almost daily for months. The Ku Klux Klan could not have 
had more abundant and favorable free advertising in the 
columns of this Memphis paper if the Grand Wizard of the 
Invisible Empire himself had been its editor; and there were 
those in Memphis at the time who understood that there was 
indeed a close affinity between the editor of the paper and 
General Forrest — although the editor was always careful to 
make it clear that he did not know whether such a thing as the 
Ku Klux was actually in existence. But, at any rate, with the 
Grand Wizard resident in the city, backed up by such a favor- 
able press as it was able to command, Memphis became a 
stronghold of Ku Klux activity. The newspaper notices of the 
Klan's work in Memphis soon began to attract nation-wide 
attention, and in the New York Evening Mail on March 12, 
1868, there appeared a story of the Klan's appearance in 
Memphis, which concluded: 'This is a local political folly, we 
presume, corresponding to the more general and far more 
dangerous political follies known as "Grand Army of the 
Republic," "Boys in Blue," "Constitutional Alliance," and 
various other politico-military mysteries. . . . General Logan as 
head of the so-called "Grand Army" holds a position which is 
not honorable to him as a statesman or as a soldier.' 

An interesting inside story of the operations of the Klan in 
Memphis was told in an article in the Confederate Veteran of 
November, 1930, by George W. Libby, a member of the promi- 
nent family of that name in Richmond, Virginia, who went to 
Memphis after the war and went to work for the firm of Taylor, 
Cook & Company on Front Street. 

'Being a pretty good mixer,' said Mr. Libby, 'I made friends 
among the young fellows and, gaining an insight of the aims 
and purposes of the Ku Klux Klan, I expressed a desire to join. 
A friend took me to one side and said: "If you will see me to- 
night at the Pat Cleburne saloon, at eight o'clock, I think I can 

96 Invisible Empire 

put you in the way of having your desire gratified." I met him 
and was bhndfolded, took him by the arm, and was led in many 
and various directions until we reached a door upon which we 
knocked. Presently I was ushered in and was asked innumer- 
able questions relative to my army record and if I was willing 
to jeopardize my life for the South for the protection of our 
mothers, wives and daughters. I was given the oath and be- 
came a Ku Klux. 

'The order had nothing in writing, all communications being 
oral, as Governor Brownlow had offered a reward of one 
thousand dollars for the capture of an individual member, and 
anything in writing would be incriminating. We always went 
singly to our meetings. N. B. Forrest of Confederate fame was 
at our head, and was known as the Grand Wizard. I heard him 
make a speech in one of our Dens in which he said: "Brownlow 
says he will bring his militia down here and get us. I say, let 
him fetch 'em, and you boys be ready to receive 'em." 

'Soon after this the Ku Klux rode into town one night, forty 
strong, horses and men disguised, under the command of Major 
DuBose, a prominent lawyer and gallant officer of the Con- 
federacy. He marched his company down in front of Police 
Headquarters, where the police were drawn up with guns in 
their hands. The Major fronted the column with a pistol in 
each hand, saluted the chief and said: "Here are the genuine Ku 
Klux for whose arrest your Governor has offered a reward. 
Take us." The chief, wishing to avoid bloodshed, replied: "You 
can go on." 

Tor several months no colored face was seen on the streets 
after dark. Soon Tennessee was free of this disgrace and under 
control of its rightful rulers; then the organization was dis- 
banded, having accomplished its purpose.' 

Although the Ku Klux organization in Tennessee profited by 
the plentiful favorable publicity accorded by the sympathetic 
press, the Radical newspapers in the state extended themselves 

Tennessee 97 

to the utmost in violent denunciation of it and all its works; 
but it is obvious that, despite their bluster, they were distinctly 

Nashville was the seat of the Brownlow state government and 
was swarming with his satellites and henchmen; and a general 
feeling of vague uneasiness pervaded the Radical portion of the 
city's population, which included the officials of the city as well 
as the state. The local Ku Klux fed this uneasiness by launching 
numerous frightening rumors of impending activities of some 
mysterious and portentous nature, hinting at a possible invasion 
of the city by an armed force of Klansmen. 

Apprehension of such an invasion of the city came to be so 
keenly felt and feared that early in March, 1868, the chief of 
police called on the local garrison of United States troops for 
aid. Accordingly the commandant of Ash Barracks arranged to 
maintain a force of ten cavalry and fifty infantry in readiness to 
move at a moment's notice against any advance by the hooded 
horsemen. 'It is thought,' said a local newspaper, 'that if the 
Ku Klux organization can be squelched here, it may eventually 
lead to a suppression of the order throughout the state.' 

The garrison was in a highly nervous state, having convinced 
themselves that a Ku Klux attack was really impending; and 
a mild panic was precipitated one night about ten o'clock when 
the sleeping troopers were aroused by the sounds of shots fired 
by the sentries, followed by the beating of the long roll and 
frantic cries of 'Turn out! Turn out!' The whole force rushed 
to arms to beat off the Ku Klux attacking force; but, to their 
chagrin, they found it was a false alarm, originating in the 
imagination of a tipsy trooper who had seen a group of negroes 
walking in the shadows near the stables and multiplied and 
transformed them into a mighty host of Ku Klux. The report 
was widely circulated through Nashville the next day that Ash 
Barracks had been attacked by a band of forty mounted Ku 
Klux and that the attacking party had been valiantly repelled 

98 Invisible Empire 

by the alert and valiant garrison. The carpetbaggers in town 
felt a glow of pride and relief when they learned how efficiently 
they were defended, and the garrison came in for a full measure 
of praise. 

The terror created by this purely imaginary raid was so 
pleasing to the Ku Klux that they decided to give the Nash- 
villians a taste of the real thing. On the morning of March 5 
there appeared posted in a prominent place in Nashville the 
following mysterious summons: 

Attention, I. O. V.! 

Den No. i, March 4, 1868. 
Special Order No. 14 

You are hereby summoned to meet in secret conclave to- 
morrow night (5th) at twelve o'clock. The cock shall crow 
thrice. The serpent's head shall be crushed. So say you all. 

By order of the 

Most Worshipful Grand Turk. 

The appearance of this notice created a sensation in Nashville, 
and the city was agog all day with discussion as to what might 
be impending. Shortly after midnight the watchful citizens were 
rewarded by the sight of a troop of thirty horsemen 'wearing the 
masks and dressed in the sombre habiliments of the Ku Klux,' 
riding slowly and silently into town by way of Church Street, 
making no hostile gesture and giving no sign of anything but 
peaceful intentions. A Nashville paper the next morning re- 
ported the affair, commenting that 'They were at first believed 
to be a party of young men out on a nocturnal froHc, but a 
closer inspection led to a different conclusion. Disappearing 
shortly after their appearance, they were next seen about two 
o'clock this morning, moving down North Summer Street 
towards the Sulphur Spring, and are supposed to have left 
town by that route.' Strangely enough, in view of all the appre- 



hension manifested and the preparations made, the soldiers 
and the poHce do not appear to have made any effort to do 
anything about the Ku Klux parade, although the newspaper 
account concluded: 'We understand the police are to take steps 
looking to the prevention of another display of the kind, and 
serious trouble is anticipated between the Metropolitan Police 
and the mysterious horsemen. There is a corporation law 
against the wearing of masks, and by authority of this the 
Metropolitans will act.' 

In the next contact between the Nashville Ku Klux and 
the Metropolitan Police, however, the Klansmen won a com- 
plete victory by sheer moral force, without a shot being fired. 
This was on the occasion of the dispersal of the Klan when the 
. members of Captain Morton's Den, as a last act of flaunting 
bravado, staged a parade through the town. The members of 
the Den who were to make the ride met at their rendezvous in 
the underground powder magazine of abandoned Fort Negley. 
Other members of the Den had been stationed at strategic points 
on the streets of Nashville, dressed in plain clothes but fully 
armed with pistols. Those who were to make the parade donned 
their robes in the seclusion of the Magazine, listened to a short 
speech of instructions from Captain Morton, and mounted their 
horses. First they paid a visit of admonition to a disorderly 
negro boarding house in South Nashville, then crossed over and 
entered the city by way of the Harding Pike, parading through 
the principal streets and stopping in front of the offices of the 
Union and American and the Banner. (There were seventeen in 
the party, but the newspaper accounts next morning estimated 
their strength at from two hundred to fifteen hundred.) Follow- 
ing these calls of courtesy they started back in the direction of 
Fort Negley, the only threat of opposition developing when 
they reached the corner of Broad and Spruce (now Eighth 
Avenue) . By this time the streets of Nashville were thronged 
with citizens, and the MetropoHtan Police had also been 

100 Invisible Empire 

assembled and were drawn up in a line across the street at this 
corner as the Ku Klux band approached. The plain-clothes 
Ku Klux had the police individually covered, man for man, 
each of the Ku Klux carrying his cocked pistol in his pocket 
ready to shoot his man if the police made a hostile move. The 
mounted Klansmen never hesitated as they approached the 
solid line of police ranged before them — and their bluff was 
effective. The police could not stand the pressure, and as the 
riders reached them they opened their ranks and let them ride 
through without a word of protest or opposition. 

That was the last appearance of the Ku Klux in Nashville. 
That night they proceeded to Fort Negley, were formally dis- 
banded, and burned their robes and rituals; and the other 
Dens in Nashville were disbanded at the same time, without 
public demonstration or ceremony. 

Thomas Dixon in his article in the Metropolitan Magazine in 
1905 has made a pretty story of this disbandment: 'Outside the 
city they entered the shadows of a forest. Down its dim cathe- 
dral aisles, lit by trembling threads of moonbeams, the white 
horsemen slowly wound their way to their appointed place. 
For the last time the chaplain led in prayer, the men disrobed, 
drew from each horse his white mantle, opened a grave, and 
solemnly buried their regalia, sprinkling the folds with the ashes 
of the copy of their burned ritual. This weird ceremony thus 
ended the most remarkable revolution of history.' As a matter 
of fact, this weird ceremony ended nothing more than the affairs 
of that particular Den. Not even the other Dens in Nashville 
followed any such formal procedure in disbanding, and at least 
one of them, being of a practical turn of mind, instead of 
destroying its robes had them laundered and donated them to a 
local orphans' asylum, where they were used to make summer 
underwear for the orphans. 

But before the Klan reached the disbandment stage in Ten- 
nessee it had passed through some tempestuous days. The de- 

Tennessee loi 

velopment of the Ku Klux organization right in his own baili- 
wick was pecuHarly irritating to Governor Brownlow, the fire- 
eating arch-Unionist and anti-secessionist who had toured the 
North during the war, breathing out the most blood-curdling 
imprecations against the rebels and telling of the terrific things 
he would do to them if he had the power. But now he was 
sitting in the Governor's chair, with all the power of the state 
at his command; and the erstwhile rebels had established the 
headquarters of their Invisible Empire in his state, probably in 
the capital city itself, right under his nose. His political cohorts 
were angrily asking him why he didn't do anything about it, and 
his enemies were twitting him and mocking him. An impudent 
citizen of Concord, Missouri, named W. W. McFarlane, wrote 
to him a letter enclosing a ten-cent shinplaster, asking that he 
be sent a ritual of the Ku Klux Klan so he could get it started in 
Missouri. 'I think it's a good thing, don't you?' innocently in- 
quired Mr. McFarlane. 

Brownlow, with his controlled and pliant legislature, had 
already had laws enacted authorizing the formation of a state 
militia force which should operate at the command of the 
Governor, and also had a law passed empowering sheriffs to 
recruit county guard units by the employment of any 'loyal' 
citizens of the state. In spite of all this concentrated power, 
however, the Governor still professed to feel incapable of coping 
with the mysterious power of the Ku Klux Klan; and in June, 
1868, when Congressman S. M. Arnell telegraphed Brownlow 
that the Ku Klux the night before had searched the train for 
him, 'pistols and rope in hand,' the Governor telegraphed to 
General Thomas at Louisville asking him to send more United 
States troops to Tennessee to quell the incipient revolution being 
fomented by the masked organization. The level-headed 
Thomas refused to be stampeded into sending any more troops, 
so Brownlow called an extra session of the legislature to convene 
in Nashville on July 27, 1868. 

102 Invisible Empire 

In his message, Governor Brownlow reminded the legislators 
that when the matter had been previously discussed *you were 
assured by leading Conservatives in their respective counties, 
and doubly assured by the leading rebel journals of the state, 
that there would be no necessity for any troops whatever, and 
that law and order would be strictly observed. It turns out 
that the rebellious elements of the state were at that time se- 
cretly arming themselves and perfecting a military organization 
known as the Ku Klux Klan, composed of ex-Rebel soldiers 
and those who were in sympathy with them, thus violating 
their paroles at the time of their surrender, and violating the 
laws of the state, and plotting and planning mischief in every 
respect. These men have been arming and organizing for a 
year past, with an eye to the overthrow of the state government.' 
Referring further to the Ku Klux in his message, he said: 'This 
dangerous organization of ex-Rebels now ramifies almost every 
part of the eleven states that once constituted the Southern 
Confederacy, and has already grown into a political engine of 
oppression so powerful and aggressive as to call forth in opposi- 
tion several notable military orders.' As a means of meeting 
the threat in Tennessee he said: T recommend most emphati- 
cally that these organized bands of assassins and robbers be 
declared outlaws by special legislation, and punished with 
death wherever found.' 

The highly inflammatory nature of the Governor's message 
created a sensation in the state. A few of the Conservative 
papers were inclined to oppose the Governor by force. The 
Gallatin Examiner excitedly said: 'We have but one reply to 
make to the atrocious message of Brownlow. If he wishes war, 
he will find our entire population ready for it. If peace, he can 
have it. The fearful responsibility rests with him and his 
Legislature. If war is the decision, we can promise to make it 
short and sharp.' 

On the other hand, most of the Conservatives, while genuinely 



alarmed at Brownlow's ferocity, were inclined to make an 
effort to placate him. A conspicuous and significant event at 
this time was the 'Council of Peace' called to assemble at 
Nashville by three prominent Tennesseans who had been 
generals in the Confederate army: B. F. Cheatham, George 
Maney and Bushrod R. Johnson. The legislature when it con- 
vened had appointed a Special Joint Committee on Military 
p Affairs to investigate the Ku Klux situation, and these three 
ex-generals had a conference on May 31 with the members of 
this committee. The next day there was a meeting in Nashville 
of thirteen of the leading citizens of the state, all of whom had 
been general officers in the Confederate army, and this council 
of ex- Confederate leaders adopted a formal memorial to be 
presented to the legislature in which they expressed a protest 
against Brownlow's charge of organized enmity to the state 
government. They denied the need of armed force such as was 
suggested by the Governor. 'Inasmuch as the supposed danger 
to the peace of the state,' they said, 'is apprehended from that 
class of the community with which we are considered identified, 
as inducement and reason to your honorable body not to organ- 
ize such military force, we pledge ourselves to maintain the 
order and peace of the state with whatever of influence we 
possess, to uphold and support the laws.' This memorial was 
signed with an imposing roster of names: B. F. Cheatham, 
W. B. Bate, Tom B. Smith, Wm. A. Quarles, Jos. B. Palmer, 
George W. Gordon, N. B. Forrest, John C. Brown, Gideon J. 
Pillow, S. R. Anderson, G. G. Dibrell, Bushrod R.Johnson and 
George Maney — all former Confederate generals, and at least 
four of them high officials in the Ku Klux Klan. 

There was a good deal of talk at the meeting of the generals 
with the committee, and nearly everybody made a speech. 
Forrest was recognized as a sort of spokesman for the petitioners 
and he was definitely conciliatory, saying that if the dis- 
franchised citizens were given the vote there would be peace. 

104 Invisible Empire 

In conclusion he urged: 'Abolish the Loyal League and the Ku 
Klux Klan; let us come together and stand together.' The 
members of the committee were courteous and apparently 
friendly, but evasive and non-committal. The Radical press of 
the state was inclined to sneer at the generals' proffer of the 
olive branch. Tf they are able to do that and have not done it,' 
said the Nashville Press and Times, 'then they appear to be 
guilty of all the murders and other outrages perpetrated by the 
Ku Klux since that vile body was organized.' 

Meanwhile, while the committee was holding its hearings and 
making its investigation, the legislature was marking time; and 
some of the ultra-Radicals began to get impatient for action. 
A group of the more impulsive of the fire-eating Governor's 
supporters got together and adopted a resolution demanding 
that some immediate steps be taken to protect the loyal people 
of the state against 'a set of murderous outlaws . . . known as the 
Ku Klux Klan.' The refusal of the Federal Government to send 
more troops into the state in response to Brownlow's plea was 
ascribed to President Johnson's alleged sympathy with the Ku 
Klux movement; and they demanded that something be done 
to liquidate the Klan without further delay. 

The very next day, however, the Special Joint Committee 
made its report, and it was all that the most violent Brownlow 
supporter could desire. This committee, strongly partisan and 
biased in its make-up, had examined a large number of wit- 
nesses (most of them victims or alleged victims of Ku Klux out- 
rages), and they reported that their investigation convinced 
them that there existed in the state 'an organization of armed 
men going abroad, disguised, robbing poor negroes of their 
fire-arms; taking them out of their homes at night, hanging, 
shooting and whipping them in the most cruel manner, and 
driving them from their homes.' White people also, they 
reported, had been subjected to 'the torture of the lash,' these 
depredations having been committed all over Middle and 

Tennessee 105 ^^v^ 

West Tennessee. Particular attention was given to conditions 
in Maury, Lincoln, Giles, Marshall, Obion, Hardeman, 
Fayette and Gibson Counties. 'A perfect reign of terror' 
existed in Maury, Marshall, Rutherford and Giles, they re- 
ported; and the clerk of the county court in Gibson was quoted 
as saying that 'It has gotten to be such a common thing that 
people think but little about it.' 

The committee mentioned scores of cases of alleged offenses 
committed by the Ku Klux Klan, although it stated that 'to 
enumerate all the outrages committed by this organization of 
outlaws would take more time than can be spared.' The testi- 
mony of most of the witnesses was of the most alarming nature. 
A. H. Eastman, the agent of the Freedmen's Bureau at Murfrees- 
boro, stated that for months he had been sleeping with a 
revolver under his pillow, 'a double-barreled shot-gun, heavily 
charged with buck-shot at one hand and a hatchet at the other, 
with an inclination to sell the little piece of mortality with 
which I am entrusted as dearly as possible.' He stated that the 
Klan in Rutherford County numbered about eight hundred or a 
thousand members at that time and had 'the sympathy and 
encouragement of nearly all the white people' — giving the 
names of a number of citizens he suspected of being active mem- 
bers. William Green, the Bureau agent at Winchester, reported 
that 'The Ku Klux have committed so many gross outrages 
that it is impossible to enumerate them all' and that 'the villains 
seem determined to over-awe the country.' 

The testimony of the witnesses before the committee was 
replete with accounts of threats, personal abuse and actual 
assaults and whippings. It is significant, however, that although 
the report expressed the belief that during the preceding six 
months the murders would average one a day, in the report it- 
self there were only four killings specifically mentioned with 
names: a negro man killed by a raiding party; a negro woman 
said by her husband to have been killed by a raiding party 

io6 Invisible Empire 

during his absence from home; and a negro and a white man 
named Bierfield who had been killed in Franklin. 

The killing of Bierfield was the result of a complex difficulty 
growing out of the rape of a little white girl by a negro. The 
black rapist was promptly hunted down and killed by the 
child's brother, who was in turn waylaid and killed by a group 
of the negro's friends who hid behind a low rock wall along the 
roadside. As this group of assassins galloped off it was seen that 
their leader was a white man mounted on a white horse; and 
Bierfield' s white horse, the only one in town, was found in his 
stable later that night covered with sweat. Bierfield was a 
carpetbagger storekeeper who encouraged the negroes to loaf 
around his store, and had been heard to tell them that they 
ought to arm themselves and fight the Ku Klux, oflfering to 
furnish them with powder and balls for such a purpose. An 
intercepted letter confirmed his connection with the white man's 
murder, and he was visited by a band of Ku Klux who took 
him from his store and killed him at the corner of Main and 
Indigo Streets, where the body was found the next morning by 
Franklin's church-goers. The negro, who was eating a water- 
melon with Bierfield in his store when the Ku Klux called, was 
killed accidentally in the melee, for which the Ku Klux ex- 
pressed regret. 

It appeared from the committee's report that, aside from 
their actual deeds of violence, the raiding Ku Klux had evi- 
dently indulged in the most unbridled form of threats as to what 
they were going to do — all this being a part of the standard 
Ku Klux formula of getting results by intimidation — but 
apparently those who heard these threats generally accepted 
them at full face value, and they repeated them breathlessly to 
the committee: 'They called for a halter and threatened to 
hang him'; 'They pointed a pistol at me and said they would 
kill me'; 'They openly declare that they will run off all the 
Republicans in the county'; 'They told me that they were 

Tennessee 107 

going to kill all who had been in the Union Army or belonged 
to Union Leagues now'; 'They told my wife that they were 
going to commence work and kill all over fourteen years old'; 
*They threaten to kill every colored man in the county'; 'The 
Ku Klux have threatened to kill all colored men who vote for 
Brownlow' — the committee's report bristled with such threat- 
ening phrases. 

The report concluded with the recommendation that the 
Governor be invested with full power to call out ( §uch milita ry 
force as may be required to secure obedience to the laws.' 

This committee report was all the rubber-stamp legislators 
had been waiting for. Disregarding all opposition and all protests, 
they rushed through the legislature two laws which probably 
served to bring down more obloquy on Brownlow' s head than 
all the other misdeeds of this stormy petrel. One of these laws 
placed the full power of the state militia in the Governor's hand, 
and authorized him to declare martial law in any counties of 
the state at his discretion. Acting under his new authority, 
Brownlow assembled at Nashville a force of sixteen hundred 
state troops — black and white; and as soon as he had this 
military force organized he declared martial law in the counties 
of Overton, Jackson, Maury, Giles, Marshall, Lawrence, 
Gibson, Madison and Haywood, sending militia troops into 
these counties, where they immediately became embroiled in 
trouble with the native white people. 

Accompanying this militia law there was also the notorious 
anti-Ku Klux law, innocently entitled 'An act to preserve the 
public peace' and passed, as one sarcastic Democratic editor 
expressed it, 'by the low Senate and the lower House.' This act 
provided that any association or connection with the Ku Klux 
should be punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars and 
imprisonment in the state prison for not less than five years, 
with the same punishment fixed for anyone who should 'feed, 
lodge, entertain or conceal' a Ku Klux* every inhabitant of the 

io8 ' Invisible Empire 

state was constituted an officer with power to arrest without 
process anyone 'known to be or suspected of being' a Ku Klux; 
and informers were to be rewarded with half the fines. 

A sympathetic newspaper in Alabama, in an editorial en- 
titled 'Poor Tennessee,' spoke of this law's having been passed 
by 'the Tennessee bogus Legislature under the vile manipula- 
tion of the arch-fiend incarnate, Brownlow,' and went on to say: 
'What a time the negroes will have informing falsely on white 
men and making snug sums thereby; and what a time such 
negroes will have at the hands of un-caught Ku Kluxes! Fine 
times ahead in Tennessee!' 

As a part of his campaign of extermination against the Ku 
Klux, Governor Brownlow engaged the services of Captain 
Seymour Barmore of Cincinnati, who modestly described him- 
self as 'the greatest detective in the world' and who, being a 
plain-clothes man, dressed in a velvet coat and plum-colored 
pantaloons, with a flashing diamond pin in his shirt-front. 
There had been a series of daring and mysterious burglaries in 
Nashville at about that time, and it was given out to the public 
that Captain Barmore was in Nashville for the purpose of solving 
the mystery of the burglaries, and he ostentatiously busied him- 
self in that direction. 

Captain Barmore' s real purpose was immediately suspected 
by the watchful Ku Klux, however, and one of their number 
who took his meals at the St. Cloud Hotel, where Barmore 
stayed, succeeded in worming his way into the confidence of 
one of the great detective's confidants. 'He is going to break up 
this Ku Klux business,' this dupe innocently told his Ku Klux 
friend one day soon after Barmore's arrival. 'He leaves this 
afternoon for Pulaski, where the Ku Klux headquarters are, and 
he will be a member of the Klan before you know it and have 
all their secrets.' Within a few minutes this information was in 
the hands of one of the Nashville Dens, and when Captain 
Barmore's train left Nashville that afternoon it carried also a 

Tennessee 109 

Ku Klux shadow, and the news of his coming had been flashed 
ahead of him to Franklin, between Nashville and Pulaski. 
Just exactly what happened was never told; but Barmore got off 
the train at Franklin and turned back. 'I deemed it best to 
return to Nashville,' he explained mysteriously to his Nashville 
friend; but he was a bold and determined man, and he declared 
his intention to expose the Ku Klux Klan if it cost him his life. 
Also, although he did not publicize that phase of the matter, he 
had the incentive of a huge reward promised by Brownlow if he 
was successful. 

The very next day Barmore started to Franklin again; but at 
Carter's Creek Station near Columbia the train was stopped and 
boarded by members of the Klan who took him into the woods 
and formally arraigned him before the assembled Klan for trial 
as an enemy. They pointed out to him that it was within their 
power to kill him then and there if they so desired, but told 
him that they did not resort to such extreme measures except as 
a matter of last resort. They explained to him the causes that had 
led them to organize the Klan, and impressed on him its great 
power and their determination not to be deterred in their pur- 
pose. It was later reported that they administered to him what 
was known as 'the padlock degree,' a painful and embarrassing 
ceremony employed by them as a warning in extreme cases; 
but he was not otherwise molested or punished. He was held a 
prisoner all night, and the next morning was put on the north- 
bound train and sent back to Nashville. Their last word to 
him was to tell him that if he persisted in his efforts and again 
fell into their hands he would die. 

Barmore would not be warned, however, and two nights 
later he set out again for Pulaski. He did not leave on the 
regular four o'clock afternoon train this time, but made the trip 
to Pulaski on a freight train at night, thereby outwitting the 
Nashville Ku Klux. The next thing known of him, he had 
secretly arrived at Pulaski, had attended a meeting of the Klan 

no Invisible Empire 

there and had presumably obtained a full list of its members. 

The Pulaski Ku Klux, when they saw Barmore preparing to 
board the train for Nashville, realized to their horror that the 
fate of the whole organization was in his hands, and they acted 
promptly. The candy butcher on the train sent a cryptic mes- 
sage to the agent at Columbia: * Apples all out. Have two dozen 
at the station.' The message was properly translated by the 
Columbia operator, a member of the Klan, and he had 'two 
dozen at the station' when the train arrived at 1.30 a.m. — but 
it was two dozen masked and mounted Klansmen and not two 
dozen apples. 

The Ku Klux worked with machine-like precision when the 
train stopped at the Columbia station. Two of them went to the 
engine and took charge of the engineer. A pair of them took 
their places on the platform of each car, and a cordon of pickets 
was thrown around the station to ward off any possibility of 
prying intruders, although at 1.30 a.m. there were not many 
people stirring in Columbia. 

Barmore was asleep in his seat, and was awakened by being 
punched in the ribs with a pistol by a forbidding figure in the 
dread Ku Klux apparel. Most of the other passengers were 
asleep; but those who were awake looked on in terrified inaction 
as the armed Klansman quietly commanded Barmore to come 
with him. Barmore surrendered without protest or struggle, and 
after he had been removed from the train the leader of the party 
blew a shrill blast on his whistle and the two Ku Klux in charge 
of the engineer permitted him to go ahead. Barmore's captors 
rode off with him without noise or disturbance; and so quietly 
was the whole thing done that the people of Columbia knew 
nothing about it until they read an account of it in the Nashville 
papers the next day. 

There was a great deal of speculation concerning what was 
generally referred to as Captain Barmore's 'disappearance.' 
There were some who claimed to believe that Barmore had 

Tennessee 1 1 1 

merely 'skipped out' and had chosen this dramatic way of 
making his exit. Others suggested that it was a hoax conceived 
by him for professional advertising. The most obvious explana- 
tion, of course, was that he had been made away with by the Ku 
Klux; but as no trace of his body was found the mystery deep- 
ened. After a few weeks his personal effects were administered 
on by a Nashville justice of the peace, and when his carpetbag 
was opened it was found to contain a full Ku Klux disguise — 
*a black calico gown, bordered with half-diamond linen trim- 
mings, and a black cambric mask tipped off with white cambric 
and running down into a narrow twist of about eight inches in 
length. The apertures for the eyes and mouth are trimmed with 
red cloth, while two small white linen figures representing faces 
are pasted on each cheek.' This was the type of disguise then in 
use in Pulaski, and it was through its use that the detective had 
been able to penetrate the Pulaski Den. 

Barmore's mysterious disappearance was the talk of the 
country for six weeks; but on February 20 the mystery was 
solved when a body was fished out of the swollen waters of Duck 
River at Booker's Ferry Bridge about two miles below the city, 
and when it was carried to Columbia it was identified as 
Barmore's. His body had evidently been weighted with a rock 
or other heavy weight which had slipped off, as there was a rope 
around his neck with a noose at the end of it. His arms were tied 
behind him with a linen handkerchief, and there was a single 
bullet-hole in his head. It was obvious that revenge rather 
than robbery had been the cause of his death. His two gold 
rings were still on the fingers of his left hand, and in his shirt 
front was the diamond-studded cross pin which he habitually 
wore. His wallet was in his pocket, his money undisturbed — 
but there was no list of Ku Klux members there when his body 
was found. 

The tragic solution of the Barmore mystery attracted atten- 
tion all over the country, and it was featured in the newspapers 

112 Invisible Empire 

for several days. The Louisville Courier Journal, in discussing 
the matter, said: 'Barmore was a loose, eccentric dare-devil. 
He had no friends among his own class, speaking politically, 
for personally he had no class. He led an isolated, wayward, 
freakish, mysterious, crooked and vicious life, a detective by 
nature. ... It is believed by many that he was a spy for both 
parties during the war. Assuredly he could not be suspected of 
patriotism. . . . He was brave and enterprising, being a cross 
between the bandit and the peddler, with a dash of the gipsy. 

'They put him out of the way. Who did the deed we know 
not; but, we dare say, had the scene been translated to New 
England, and the Radical editors who have denounced it 
formed a part of the danger-threatened community, they would 
have joined the posse. Rob a people of the law, drive them out 
of the courts, proscribe them en masse — all of which Brownlow 
has done — and they are bound to protect themselves. If the 
people of the North want peace at the South, they must give 
peace and protection to the people of the South. They must not 
send a lot of vagrants down there to be Governors and Senators 
and Judges, backed up by negroes and bayonets, if they expect 
good fellowship. Ku Kluxism in Tennessee has been the natural 
reaction to Radical ruffianism. Stop the ruffians on the one 
side, and the people will have no reason nor inclination to 
defend their firesides by acts of ruffianly but justifiable defense.' 

Brownlow resigned from the office of governor of Tennessee 
on February 25, 1869, to take the seat in the United States 
Senate to which he had had himself elected by his legislature; 
and he was succeeded as governor by D. C. Senter. Senter 
was a Republican, but not of the violently Radical type, and 
he immediately gave evidence of his determination to restore 
the right of suffrage to the disfranchised native citizens of 
Tennessee and otherwise undo the wrongs of the Brownlow 
administration. The official order for the dissolution of the Ku 
Klux Klan followed closely; and although the Ku Klux tag was 

Tennessee 113 

attached to every deed of violence occurring in the South for the 
next three years, the genuine Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee did 
not long survive the end of Brownlow's reign as governor. 

Tennessee was the only Realm of the Invisible Empire con- 
cerning which there remains any vestige of documentary 
records. The Grand Exchequer of the Silver Creek and Globe 
Greek Klan, which had its Den at Old Shiloh Church in 
Marshall County, neglected to destroy his exchequer list of 
members; and it has recently been brought to light. Also, the 
Grand Cyclops of another Tennessee Den preserved his copy of 
the Prescript, upon the yellowed pages of which there remains 
his penciled memorandum of the officers of the Klan: 'G. Wiz- 
zard of Empire, Forrest; G. Dragon of Realm, Gen. Geo. W. 
Gordon; G. Titan of Dominion, Joe Fussell; G. Giant of Prov- 
ince, E. D. Thompson; G. Cyclops of Den, ? ?' In the place of 
the coy interrogation marks left by the original Grand Cyclops, 
there is written in a later handwriting the name of Henry Mann. 

General George W. Gordon was the youngest brigadier in 
the Confederate army at the close of the war in 1865; and, al- 
though a young man, he had the natural spark of leadership. 
He took up the practice of law in Pulaski after the war, and 
when the Ku Klux Klan was organized there he became one of 
its earliest members and soon assumed a place of leadership in 
its councils. He assisted in the propagation of the order, and 
when the Invisible Empire was formally organized in 1867 
he was the natural choice for Grand Dragon of the Realm of 
Tennessee. In General Gordon's family is preserved a unique 
Ku Klux badge which he wore, a five-pointed star wrought from 
a five-dollar gold piece, bearing the three small stars used in 
the Prescript to indicate the words 'Ku Klux Klan,' and carry- 
ing the Latin inscription '/w hoc Signa Spes mecH (In this sign is 
my hope) . So far as is known, the Grand Dragon of the Realm 
of Tennessee was the only Ku Klux official who ever wore a 
badge of office. 



HE TOWN OF Pulaski, where the Ku Klux Klan 
originated, is located in the southern part of Tennessee, only 
twenty miles from the Alabama state line. As the fame of the 
Klan began to spread, therefore, it naturally attracted the 
attention of the people of northern Alabama; and pretty soon 
local Dens began to spring up throughout that part of the state, 
with focal points at Huntsville, Athens and Tuscaloosa. 

When the counties in which the Ku Klux were active are 
blocked out on a map of the state of Alabama, it will be observed 
that the organization's activities were confined very largely to 
the northern part of the state, being practically unknown south 
of Montgomery. In that part of the state where it was estab- 
lished, however, it operated with great energy and potency; 
and among its reputed leaders it included some of the foremost 
men of the state. Aside from Tennessee, there were probably 
more Ku Klux Dens in Alabama than in any other state in the 
Invisible Empire. 

Alabama had strong provocation for resorting to the Ku Klux 
idea as a defensive device, as that state was at an early date sub- 
jected to a highly oppressive carpetbagger government, operat- 
ing under a constitution which was not only very objectionable 
to the people but which had been drafted and adopted by 
dubious political methods. In speaking of the convention which 
drew up the constitution, Samuel A. Hale, a staunch Union 

Alabama 115 

man before, during and after the war, stated that the men who 
composed the convention were a lot of 'worthless vagabonds, 
homeless, houseless drunken knaves,' who had been elected in 
an election which was *as shameless a fraud as was ever per- 
petrated upon the face of the earth.' He gave it as his opinion 
that one of the predominating causes for the organization of 
the Ku Klux Klan was 'the appointment of these worthless 
vagabonds to office.' Mr. Hale was a native of New Hampshire 
who had hved in Alabama the better part of his life and had 
always been an intensely loyal Union man; but the enormities 
of the Reconstruction sickened him. 

The people of Alabama chafed under the galling of the govern- 
ment which had been imposed on them, and resented particu- 
larly the rising spirit of truculent independence on the part of 
the newly freed negroes. As the negroes were organized into 
secret societies like the Loyal League, and spent a large part 
of their time in marching to the beat of drums and drilUng in 
public with a conspicuous flourish of arms, the apprehension 
of the people increased. Spontaneously bands of regulators be- 
gan to spring up locally. For instance, a man in Tallapoosa 
County named John T. Wright organized a regulatory body, 
composed mostly of returned Confederate soldiers, called 'The 
Black Cavalry.' This never amounted to much; but Wright 
became one of the Alabama organizers of the Ku Klux Klan 
when the influence of the new secret society began to spread into 
that state. Wright, and many others like him, already had the 
germ of a similar idea; the Ku Klux Klan offered an organized 
mechanism for carrying it out. 

The exact date of the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama 
cannot be accurately and definitely determined, but it is a 
matter of record that the ubiquitous General Forrest was in 
northern Alabama in the spring of 1868; and it was soon after 
that time that the people of Alabama began to see the Ku Klux 
bands riding about at night. Colonel William M. Lowe, a 

ii6 Invisible Empire 

lawyer of Huntsville, recalled that General Forrest called to 
see him about some insurance business at that time and that, 
the insurance matter disposed of, the general told him^ some- 
thing about the blossoming cj^ file Ku Klux in Tennessee. 
Colonel Lowe hastened to add, however, that he assured General 
Forrest that he was not int^prested in any such movement and 
would not have anything^a.dtJ with it. ..^ v ^ ' ^/ ' 

One of the earliest converts in Alabama was Ryland Randolph 
of Tuscaloosa, editor of the Independent Monitor published in that 
city, which carried at its masthead the trenchant motto: 'White 
man — right or wrong — still the white man.' He rendered 
yeoman service to the Klan during the period of its activity; 
and his gift for searing invective and violent verbal pyrotechnics 
soon brought him into national notoriety. Randolph was a 
firebrand whose antipathy for the carpetbaggers and Radicals 
kept him in constant hot water even before he became active in 
the Ku Klux Klan. As early as 1867 his life was threatened on 
account of some of his sulphuric utterances, and he applied to 
H. S. Whitfield, a Radical then in charge of the town's affairs, 
for a pass. Whitfield, who cordially detested Randolph, obliged 
with a document saying: 'To all whom it may concern: Let 
this damned rebel pass whenever he pleases. If he never comes 
back, so much the better.' This insulting document was con- 
strued by Randolph as a mortal insult, and he promptly chal- 
lenged Whitfield to a duel, but the matter was eventually 
patched up without bloodshed. 

In a letter written thirty years later to Doctor W. L. Fleming, 
Mr. Randolph related how he joined the Ku Klux organization 
as soon as he heard of it, going on to say: Tt originated with 
returned soldiers, for the purpose of punishing those negroes 
who had become notoriously and oflfensively insolent to white 
people; and, in some cases, to chastise those white-skinned 
men who, at that particular time, were showing an inclination 
to socially affiliate with negroes. The impression sought to be 

Alabama 1 1 7 

made upon the latter was that these white-robed night prowlers 
were the ghosts of the Confederate dead who had arisen from 
their graves in order to work vengeance on an undesirable 
class of both white and black men. Their robes used in these 
nocturnal campaigns consisted simply of sheets wrapped around 
the bodies and belted around the waist. The lower portion 
reached to the heels, whilst the upper had eyeholes through 
which to see and mouthpiece through which to breathe. Of 
course, every man so caparisoned had one or more pistols in 
holsters buckled to his waist. The Ku Klux organization 
flourished principally in middle and northern Alabama, not- 
ably in Montgomery, Greene, Tuscaloosa and Pickens counties. 
... In some instances organizers were sent to towns to es- 
tablish the Klans. These latter were formed into companies, 
officered somewhat in military style. In 1868 I was honored by 
being chosen leader of the Tuscaloosa Klan and I am gratified 
to be able to say that my Klan did much good service in Tusca- 
loosa county.' 

As soon as Randolph became Cyclops of the Tuscaloosa Den 
he began to use his paper in behalf of the organization's work. 
He began by reprinting items from newspapers in other Southern 
cities telling of the Klan's activities, and then on April i, 1868, 
printed an article entitled 'The Ku Klux Phylarchy' in which 
he said: 'Early on last Friday morning our attention was directed 
to crowds, both black and white, who were collected around 
Spiller's, Glascock's and the old Washington Hall corners. 
Upon visiting these triple precincts we found large posters pasted 
on the walls, headed with large letters of blood. During the 
day we received an anonymous note, also indited in blood, 
of which the following is a true copy:' The anonymous note, 
'indited in blood,' was an alleged order from the Ku Klux 
Cyclops directing him to reprint the posters in his paper, the 
order ending with this couplet: 

'Cyclops warns it — print it well 
'Or glide instanter down to hell.' 

Ii8 Invisible Empire 

Editor Randolph, acting under the orders of Cyclops Ran- 
dolph, then proceeded to print the text of the Ku Klux posters 
which had been composed and printed the night before by 
Ryland Randolph the job printer, in all their blood-and-thunder 
nonsense. Each of the posters was headed 'Ku Klux' in big 
black letters, and a specimen one of them read: 

Hollow Hell, Devil's Den, Horrible 
Shadows. Ghostly Sepulchre. 
Head Quarters of the Immortal Ate 
of the K. K. K. Gloomy Month. Bloody 
Moon. Black Night, Last Hour. 

General Orders No. j. 

Shrouded Brotherhood! Murdered Heroes! 

Fling the bloody dirt that covers you to the four winds! 
Erect the Goddess on the banks of the Avernus. Mark well 
your foes! Strike with the red hot spear! Prepare Charon 
for his task! 

Enemies reform! The skies shall be blackened! A single 
Star shall look down upon horrible deeds! The night owl shall 
hoot a requiem o'er Ghostly Corpses! 

Beware! Beware! Beware! 

The Great Cyclops is angry! Hobgoblins report! Shears 
and lash! Tar and Feathers! Hell and Fury! 

Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! 

Bad men, white, black, yellow, repent! 

The hour is at hand! Beyeready! Life is short. J.H.S.Y.W.!!! 

Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts! 

Drink thy tea made of distilled hell, stirred with the lightning 
of heaven, and sweetened with the gall of thine enemies! 

All will be well!!! 

By order of the Great 
A true copy, G.S. K.K.K. 

P.S. K. K. K. 

Alabama 119 

It might be remarked right here, incidentally, that in spite 
of this pointed reference to *tar and feathers' in the poster, 
there was in fact no single instance of the use of tar and feathers 
ever attributed to the Ku Klux. They committed various forms 
of violence, but this particular form of punishment was never 
used by them. 

Randolph lost no time in getting to work as an operating 
Ku Klux, and within a few days had attracted attention to 
himself by becoming embroiled in a street fight in Tuscaloosa, 
in the course of which he drew his knife and slashed a negro 
named Balus, who was assaulting a white man who happened 
to be a member of Randolph's Klan. In his issue of the next 
day he referred to this episode in an editorial entitled 'Niggers — 
Radicals — Ghosts,' in which he said: 'The cutting and beating 
of the insolent fellow Balus on the 28th ult., in presence of 
crowds of his fellow niggers, has had a salutary influence over 
the whole of niggerdom hereabout. They now feel their in- 
feriority, in every particular, to the white man.' He then pro- 
ceeded to say that 'It is reported that the Ku Klux Klan is 
preparing to visit North Port' [a town across the river], boldly 
giving the names of probable victims of the Klan's vengeance: 
'D. M. Harless, the fellow who piloted Croxton's forces thither, 
is trembling in his shoes. We are afraid the Ghosts will hang 

him W. T. Hammer, the meanest, mangiest hound in 

Christendom, is good for a suspension from a good, high limb 
till his disgraced life abandons its carrion habitation,' etc. 
Then, as a spur to the superstitious fears of the negroes, he 
wrote: 'A couple of friends who were passing through the 
cemetery the other night overheard mutterings against the 
men specified, which leads us to believe that they are "spotted" 
and can not live in this county,' etc., etc. 

About this time General Shepherd, the miUtary commandant 
of the state of Alabama, from his office in Montgomery on April 
4 issued his famous 'General Order No. 11.' This order started 

I20 Invisible Empire 

off: 'The outrage against life, the peace and good order of the 
community, in this sub-District, perpetrated by a band dis- 
guised with masks and styling itself the Ku Klux Klan, consti- 
tutes a public evil. It is therefore ordered that the various 
sheriffs, majors, marshalls, magistrates, constables, chiefs of 
police and police shall be held accountable by the Post Com- 
manders over their respective districts for the suppression of 
the iniquitous organization, and the apprehension of its mem- 
bers wherever found'; and then went on to decree that *A11 
placards and newspaper cards of the Ku Klux Klan are pro- 
hibited,' etc. 

This order was derided by the Monitor, which spoke of its 
^resemblance to the Pope's famous bull against the comet,' and 
also compared General Shepherd with 'Xerxes, madly lashing 
the waves of the Hellespont in his impotent wrath at their 
destruction of his bridge of boats, and Canute coolly command- 
ing the tide to retire from his approach.' 

The Montgomery Sentinel in its issue of the eighth defiantly 
noted: 'The Ku Klux Klan met, it is said, at their usual place 
last night, in spite of Gen. Shepherd's order'; and the Monitor 
on April 21 said: 'Rumor says that Gen. Shepherd's order gave 
rise to an acrimonious debate in the recent council of the Ku 
Klux Klan about 12 o'clock last Saturday night at the old 
graveyard. The Grand Cyclops was rather of the opinion that 
it was unconstitutional and consequently of no force or effect 
with the Klan.' 

Eutaw in Greene County was another hotbed of Ku Klux 
activity throughout Reconstruction times. As early as 1867 ^ 
preacher named Hill (described by a local paper as 'an in- 
famous old scalawag') was set upon and whipped by a group 
of native young men who were incensed at his tendency to in- 
flame the negroes. For this offense they were arrested by 
United States troops, and after being held in prison at Mobile 
and Selma for several weeks were tried and convicted by a 

Alabama 12 1 

military commission. Seven of them were sentenced to serve 
terms of imprisonment on the Dry Tortugas; and they were 
actually transported there and started serving their sentences, 
but were soon pardoned. They were received as returned 
heroes when they got back to Eutaw; and one of them, John 
CuUen, opened a saloon which he called 'The Dry Tortugas' 
and which became a favorite rendezvous of patriotic and 
thirsty natives. 

Later there was an affray on the public square in Eutaw in 
connection with a public speaking, in the course of which several 
negroes were wounded, but nobody killed. Efforts were made 
to identify this as a 'Ku Klux outrage'; and although it was 
never possible to connect the Ku Klux organization with the 
trouble, it added to the tense feeling in the town and county. 

There was no question, however, regarding the connection 
of the Ku Klux Klan with the killing of Alexander Boyd, the 
county solicitor or prosecuting attorney, who signed his own 
death warrant by talking too much. Boyd's killing grew in- 
directly out of the murder of a white man by two negroes on 
the public highway in Greene County late in 1869. The victim, 
Sam Snoddy, was last seen talking to a negro man named Sam 
Caldwell, who was observed the next day washing some bloody 
clothes. Caldwell was accordingly arrested along with two 
other negroes accused of being accomplices — Henry Miller 
and Caldwell's father, who went by the name of Sam Colwin. 
Caldwell and Miller escaped from jail, and Miller was later 
found dead; Caldwell's body was never found. Col win's body, 
perforated with sixteen bullet-holes, was also later found hung 
to a tree, after he had been released from jail by the Radical 
authorities. The Ku Klux were immediately suspected of being 
responsible for the deaths of all three of the negroes, although 
there seemed to be no direct evidence connecting them with 
the matter. 

Alexander Boyd, aside from being a Radical office-holder, 

122 Invisible Empire 

did not enjoy any great measure of popularity in Greene 
County. Fifteen years before this time he had killed a young 
man named Brown, for which he was sentenced to serve ten 
years in prison. A friendly governor, however, commuted his 
sentence to one year in jail, and when he had served that time 
he moved off to Arkansas, leaving behind him a large number 
of the friends and relatives of the deceased Brown who felt that 
Boyd had not paid a sufficiently heavy penalty for his crime. 
After the war he came back to Eutaw, espoused the Republican 
cause and was appointed county solicitor; and this did not add 
anything to his popularity. He was 'a very disagreeable man 
to do business with,' testified some of the people; and others 
went further, saying that he was a man who 'sold the adminis- 
tration of the law' — that he would 'let a man off when he 
would pay for it, and prosecute him for vengeance when disposed 
to do so.' 

Even so, Boyd's personal unpopularity might have had no 
fatal consequences had he not made the mistake of boasting 
publicly that he knew who killed Sam Colwin and the other 
negroes and that he was going to bring them to justice at the 
next term of court. That was a tragic error on his part. At 
eleven o'clock on the night following this injudicious threat, a 
band of Ku Klux in customary disguise rode into Eutaw and 
in a methodical and businesslike manner went about the work 
of liquidating Mr. Boyd. Some said there were thirty-five in 
the Ku Klux band; some said there were seventy-five. At any 
rate, there were enough to post pickets on the corners of the 
public square, the main body riding directly to Clearfield's 
Tavern where Mr. Boyd lived. Leaving guards outside, the 
Ku Klux entered the hotel and forced the clerk to lead them 
to Rooms Nos. 4 and 5, which were the rooms occupied by 

It did not take them long to transact their bloody business. 
Immediately after their entry into the room there were sounds 

Alabama 123 

of scuffling. Men on the street heard a terrified voice cry out: 
'Murder! Murder! Murder!' This outcry was followed by a 
volley of pistol shots. The executioners came down to the 
street without any evidence of haste or alarm, gathered up the 
guards and pickets with a few blasts from the leader's whistle 
and mounted their horses. Riding once around the public 
square as a final gesture of nonchalant defiance, the Ku Klux 
rode out of town unpursued. Witnesses of the affair testified to 
the methodical form of procedure: 'There was scarcely a word 
spoken by them. The sentinels were sent out and brought in by 
a mere wave of the hand.' 

After the Ku Klux had gone, Mr. Clearfield, the tavern- 
keeper (who had been playing billiards in a bar-room across 
the street), went up to Mr. Boyd's room and there found the 
body of the unfortunate solicitor riddled with bullets, two 
being squarely through the forehead. 

The killing created great excitement in Eutaw, and the 
Republicans and negroes were in a fury of indignation. The 
next day a body of armed negroes marched into the town from 
the surrounding country and staged a warlike demonstration, 
threatening to burn down the hotel where the assassination 
took place. Cooler Republicans persuaded them to disperse 
and go home; but they departed heaping imprecations on the 
Ku Klux Klan, and threatening future vengeance. 

The Circuit Court judge, a Republican, at the next term of 
court gave the grand jury a vigorous charge on the subject and 
appointed an energetic and competent Republican attorney in 
Mr. Boyd's place. The grand jury, a mixed jury of blacks and 
whites, remained in session two weeks and examined more than 
five hundred witnesses, including men summoned from the 
vicinity of every bridge and ferry in the county. The witnesses 
were examined and cross-examined; but the grand jury's final 
report was that they were not able to get the slightest hint or 
clew pointing to any man. The Ku Klux had ridden out of 

1 24 Invisible Empire 

town in the direction of Springfield, and the jury reported its 
conclusion that they were all from Pickens County, which was 
adjoining. The grand jury of Pickens County, however, re- 
ported that the masked men seen that night rode right on 
through that county. The theory was expressed that perhaps 
they had come from Tennessee — which was about three hun- 
dred miles away. That was as near as anybody ever came to 
solving the identity of the masked executioners. 

Mr. Boyd's remains were interred in a Eutaw cemetery, with 
a tombstone upon which his uncle had chiseled the pregnant 
epitaph: 'Murdered by the Ku Klux!!' 

Early in the fall of 1869 there was an outburst of disorder 
in Tuscumbia, when a group of negroes set fire to the female 
academy there and burned it to the ground, fortunately with 
no loss of life as it was just before the school sessions were to 

This act of arson was the work of eight negro members of 
the Loyal League in Tuscumbia who had been aroused to 
action by a negro agitator from Memphis who was a porter on 
the sleeping-car of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. This 
porter, as was developed by the later confessions of the partici- 
pants, told the Tuscumbia negroes that they were at war with 
the white race and should use the torch on them. Thus goaded, 
the eight Loyal Leaguers started out to burn the town; but, 
characteristically, they ran into difficulty in deciding whose 
house to set afire first. They were favorable to the idea of 
burning the town as a general proposition, but whenever it 
came to the point of actually applying the torch to any particu- 
lar house there was always one of the negroes who would speak 
up and say: 'No, let's not burn his house; he's a good man,' 
or 'He's been good to me,' until the leaders despaired of finding 
any place to start and finally hit upon the idea of burning the 
academy, as it was devoid of personal defenders. 

For this wanton and criminal act the three ringleaders were 

Alabama 125 

taken out by the Ku Klux and hung to the railroad bridge at 
Tuscumbia. The other five, who were merely following the 
leaders, were indicted for arson and tried in the courts, several 
of the leading attorneys of Tuscumbia volunteering for their 
defense. While their conviction was being appealed they escaped 
from jail and fled to Kentucky; but the current report in 
Tuscumbia was that they also had been taken out of the jail 
and executed by the Ku Klux and their bodies mysteriously 
disposed of. 

The congressional committee devoted more attention to 
Alabama than to any other Realm of the Invisible Empire, 
and they took so much testimony and examined so many wit- 
nesses that the transcript of the evidence fills three big volumes. 

One of the most eager and voluble witnesses who testified 
before the committee was the Reverend A. S. Lakin, a minister 
of the Northern Methodist Church, who had come to the state 
in the interest of that church after the war. He told the most 
hair-raising stories concerning his personal adventures with 
the Ku Klux and his many miraculous escapes from death at 
their hands; but he overplayed his hand to such an extent as to 
destroy the effect of his testimony. As one of the committee 
said of him at the time: 'He came to Washington brimful of gall, 
bitterness and falsehood, which he poured out before us in such 
a way that it was hardly possible to determine which of the 
ingredients predominated. There was hardly a statement 
made by him which was not either wholly false or grossly ex- 
aggerated. The man seemed to be incapable of speaking the 
truth in a plain, unvarnished way; and his neighbors spoke of 
him as a man utterly unreliable in his statements. The kindest 
thing said was that he was a man of fertile imagination, upon 
which he drew freely.' 

Parson Lakin was a man of pious and unctuous manner, 
always insisting that he was just a plain minister of the gospel, 
going about trying to do good, and that he had no interest in 

126 Invisible Empire 

politics or political affairs. From the testimony of the native 
Alabamians, however, it appeared that he was too modest in 
recounting his own activities along poHtical lines, particularly 
the work he had done in organizing the negroes into Loyal 
Leagues, influencing them to vote the Radical ticket and in- 
fluencing them to hate their former masters. 

Nicholas Davis, an Alabama Republican, testifying as to 
Lakin's character, particularly with reference to his statement 
that he was merely a minister of the gospel and took no part in 
politics, said: 'If he said that he told a lie. I heard him make a 
political speech; he is an old ruffian. He was a candidate for 
United States Senator. Was not that politics? Besides, was he 
not trying to make himself president of the Alabama University, 
and didn't he afterwards run for Superintendent of Educa- 
tion? Didn't he electioneer with me, the old Heathen Chinee? 
He ought to be run out of this community; that old fellow is a 
hell of an old rascal. I told him to his face: "Mr. Lakin, didn't 
you try to be president of the Alabama University?" He said 
he did. I said: "It would have been a disgrace to the state. 
You don't know an adjective from an adverb, nor nothing else." 
He is a humbug, a liar and a slanderer; that's what he is, and 
he ain't nothing else.' 

An excellent example of the fertility of Parson Lakin's imagi- 
nation and his talent for tales of horror is provided by the story 
he gravely told of the birth of a *Ku Klux baby.' Accounts of 
this horrid and unnatural thing were printed all over the 
country, backed up by the Reverend Lakin's deliberate state- 
ment that he had 'examined the child very carefully and 
minutely' and that the baby was 'a perfect representation and 
facsimile of a disguised Ku Klux,' even to the extent of having 
horns on its head. This, the Parson charged, was the result of 
sinister prenatal influence, the unfortunate mother having been 
scared, he said, by a visitation of Ku Klux before the baby was 
born. People all over the country shuddered at the thought of 

Alabama 127 

such a thing. There seemed to be no end to the depravity of 
the Ku Klux. 

The attending physician, however, Doctor Garlington Coker, 
testified before the investigating committee that the baby's 
alleged resemblance to a Ku Klux was entirely a figment of the 
imagination. The baby, he testified, was a stillbirth, being bom 
*not only dead, but slightly putrefied, so much so that at the 
slightest touch the skin would slip from the flesh. The skin of 
the forehead had slipped down over the face in part, so as to 
make an unsightly appearance. After the child was laid out, 
some ladies suggested that it was a Ku Klux child. I examined 
the child again, told them that it did not resemble any Ku Klux 
that I had ever seen, and asked the mother if she had been 
frightened by a Ku Klux. She told me that she had never seen 
a Ku Klux in her life. The unsightly appearance of the child 
did not resemble Ku Klux, and was but the result of partial 

This was too good a story, however, for the imaginative 
Parson Lakin to have it ruined by the interposition of facts; so 
he took up the cry of 'Ku Klux baby' and succeeded in per- 
suading the husband of the poor woman, one Benjamin Horton, 
that there was such a resemblance. He also prevailed on Horton 
to permit the baby's body to be exhibited at a near-by camp- 
meeting before it was buried, and here the morbid and gullible 
gathered to look at the pitiful and unsightly spectacle. Lakin, 
who had an incredible capacity for making mountains of mole- 
hills, gradually built this up into an example of a new and 
marrow-chilling form of Ku Klux outrage, and it was widely 
accepted as such. 

The Ku Klux themselves, however, did not seem to relish 
all this unfavorable publicity, and as a means of displaying 
their displeasure they decided to flog the unfortunate father of 
the child. About three o'clock in the morning they rode up to 
Horton's house and battered on his door. Peeping through the 

128 Invisible Empire 

chinking he ascertained the nature of his visitors and attempted 
to parley with them, but they would brook no delay. 'Get up!' 
they commanded sternly. 'Arise, Horton, and put on your 
breeches and come out.' Thus commanded, Horton arose, 
put on his breeches and went out; with the result that he was 
given a whipping of eighteen lashes with a hickory switch. 
Before the Ku Klux departed they told him that he talked too 
much, and that if they ever again heard him say anything at 
all about the Ku Klux — either for them or against them — 
they would come back and give him two hundred lashes on 
his naked back twice a week. 

Horton, when asked why he took no steps to prosecute the 
Ku Klux who had visited him, said: 'A man might as well go 
and dig his grave as to go to Blountsville and apply against a 
Ku Klux or try to warrant him. He wouldn't live long. I was 
too sharp to do that. I like my life as well as anything else.' 
His father, Samuel Horton, testified that he also was warned 
by the Ku Klux, and that he then went off to Georgia. 

'Did you run off?' a committeeman asked him. 

'No, sir; I never run.' 

'You made pretty fast walking?' 

'I drove pretty peart.' 

'You made the horses run?' 

'If you had known that two or three men were after you 
dressed in scarlet, you wouldn't have stayed there.' 

The 'Ku Klux baby,' however, was merely one of the many 
lurid tales told by Parson Lakin; and it was indicative of the 
times that a man of this stripe, publicly accused of every form 
of misbehavior and crime ranging from chronic prevarication 
to seduction, was actually appointed president of the University 
of Alabama, located at Tuscaloosa. This did such violence to 
the sensibilities of the people of Alabama, who were accustomed 
to seeing a man of scholarly attainments at the head of the state 
university, that there was a perfect uproar of protest. 

Alabama 1 29 

Editor Randolph of the Independent Monitor was almost beside 
himself at the very thought of living in the same town with 
Lakin and the other carpetbaggers and scalawags appointed to 
the university faculty, and he exploded in his issue of August 1 1 , 
1868: * If these scoundrels expect to live quietly here and draw 
their salaries, extorted from the sweating brows of the toiling 
taxpayers of Alabama, we tell them they are mistaken. This com- 
munity will be too disagreeable for them, and the sooner they 
resign the better.' 

Undismayed, President-Elect Lakin, accompanied by Doctor 
N. B. Cloud, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, went 
to Tuscaloosa to take over the university preparatory to opening 
up the school for the fall term; and there they were greeted 
with a crude woodcut cartoon in the Monitor showing two 
grotesque figures (one carrying a carpetbag) hanging to the 
limb of a tree, headed 'A Prospective Scene in the City of 
Oake, March 4th, 1869.' The reading matter accompanying 
the cartoon stated that *The above cut represents the fate in 
store for those great pests of Southern society — the carpet- 
bagger and scalawag — if found in Dixie's land after the break 
of day on the 4th of March next .... The contract for hanging 
will be given to the negro who, having mounted the carpet- 
bagger and the scalawag on the mule that he didnU draw at 
the elections, will tie them to a limb and, leading the said mule 
from under them, over ihc forty acres of ground that he also didn't 
get, will leave the vagabonds high in mid-air, a feast for anthro- 
pophagous vermin.' 

In an adjacent column was a news item which stated: 
'Scallawag Cloud of Montgomery and Carpetbagger Lakin of 
Nowhere arrived here Thursday — Cloud the Radical jockey 
comes as the trainer of Lakin, the negro-loving jackass .... 
Both would make first-rate hemp stretchers.' Then: 'Later — 
On Friday afternoon Lakin incontinently departed, by way 
of the Huntsville road. On Saturday morning Cloud also 

130 Invisible Empire 

"made tracks" in direction of Montgomery .... Every fellow 
they met on the street appeared, to their alarmed fancies and 
guilty consciences, to be Ku Kluxes in disguise.' 

This highly incendiary cartoon and editorial were seized 
upon with great avidity by the Northern press and reprinted 
by the Cincinnati Commercial and other papers as a sample of 
the bloodthirsty spirit prevailing in the South. At the same 
time. Southern Democratic organizations formally denounced 
Randolph as a rabid extremist whose truculence was doing the 
South more harm than good. So much of a furor was aroused 
that Randolph wrote a lame letter of explanation to the Cincin- 
nati Enquirer in which he said: ' . . . The sketch was understood 
by everyone here to be a piece of pleasantry, gotten up in a 
spirit of fun by the devils of the Monitor office, as a scarecrow for 
an incendiary carpetbagger from Ohio, one A. S. Lakin, and 
an Alabama scalawag, N. B. Cloud, who were in this locality 
on a short visit with exaggerated ideas of their own personal 
danger. Had it been intended seriously I would never have 
allowed it to go in the columns of the Monitor, nor as such would 
it have met the approbation of one man in the county, outside 
the walls of the lunatic asylum. In this wood-cut the mythical 
Ku Klux were represented as a retreating jackass, which of 
itself should have been sufficiently suggestive to the Commercial 
man that a grim joke was attempted to be perpetrated at the 
expense of those whose ears like his own seem too long and heavy 
to be susceptible of anything but the most malicious falsehoods,' 
etc., etc. 

Despite this experience, however — or, perhaps, because of 
it — Editor-Cyclops Randolph continued to regard himself as 
the custodian of the sanctity of the university's prestige, and 
when announcement was made a few months later of the ap- 
pointment of a new faculty who planned to come to Tuscaloosa 
and open up the school for the spring term, he carried this item, 
dripping with sinister suggestion: Tn reply to a communication 

Alabama 131 

from Sipsey Swamp signed "K.K.K.," we have to inform the 
writer that the new nigger faculty will be here on or about the 
ist of March next.' R. D. Harper was the man who had been 
selected to serve as president of the school, and of him Mr. 
Randolph said: 'Lakin's chances of security would have been 
infinitely better.' To maintain the atmosphere of lurking 
danger, the Monitor in its next issue reported: 'Quite a large 
body of sinister looking creatures are reported to us as having 
been seen at the University grounds on Saturday night last. 
All appeared dressed in white and hovered about the presi- 
dent's mansion for some time. Thence they went to the house 
of each professor. The negroes who saw them were so alarmed 
that they took to their heels without making close scrutiny 
of the strange figures. It is supposed that the ghosts of the 
Confederate dead are making themselves familiar with the 
premises in order to visit Harper et als in March next. Alas! 
We are very much afraid they will not let the new faculty 
sleep there.' 

The outcome of this campaign was summed up in the brief 
announcement in the Monitor of March 23: 'R. D. Harper has 
wisely resigned his office of president of the State University,' etc. 

Such systematic intimidation was a regular part of the 
standard Ku Klux technique in dealing with individual cases. 
For creating the proper psychological effect on whole com- 
munities and large groups, however, the favored Ku Klux 
device was the mass parade in full uniform. One of the most 
spectacular appearances of the Ku Klux in Alabama was in 
Huntsville on a Saturday night late in October, 1868. This 
was the date of a big political rally of negroes in Huntsville, 
and during the course of the morning a very inflammatory 
speech had been made by a white Republican orator from 
Decatur named C. C. Sheets — a man who was later appointed 
by President Grant as United States Consul to Elsinore in 

132 Invisible Empire 

Mr. Sheets told his audience that he had been rudely inter- 
rupted by the Ku Klux a few days before while making a speech 
at Florence and that he had been intimidated into promising 
them then that he would not make any more such abusive 
and incendiary speeches as he had been making. *But,' he 
said, *now that I have got up here in Huntsville, where there 
are so many colored people, I'm not afraid to say what I please.' 
So he proceeded to tell them that if they would do what it be- 
came them as men to do, they would arm themselves and 
shoot down their enemies wherever they found them; that the 
reason the Ku Klux paraded the country was because the 
negroes had shown themselves weak-kneed and afraid to assert 
themselves; and more to that effect. The passions of the negroes 
were very much aroused by this speech, and there were open 
avowals by them that the next time they saw any of the Ku 
Klux they would shoot them on sight, that the Ku Klux were 
afraid to show themselves in Huntsville, and so on. The more 
they talked the braver they got. 

The example set by Mr. Sheets was contagious, and similarly 
provocative speeches were made by others in the meeting. 
A white blacksmith, described as 'a carpetbagger and a drunken, 
dissipated fellow,' was particularly bitter in haranguing the 
negroes and urging them to deeds of violence. A rumor circu- 
lated throughout the town that afternoon that the Ku Klux 
planned to accept the challenge and would ride into Huntsville 
that very night, and this aroused the oratorical blacksmith to 
greater flights. 'If they come into town, shoot them down,' 
he excitedly urged the negroes. Tire on them; kill them! 
Don't wait for them to come into town. Go out and meet them 
and waylay them. That's the way to handle them.' 

Inspired by this advice, one party of excited negroes did go 
out to the Pinhook bridge to ambush the Ku Klux if they came 
in that way; and another party went out on the Meridianville 
pike for a similar purpose. During the course of the afternoon, 

Alabama 133 

however, their enthusiasm died down, their ardor weakened, 
and both of the ambushing parties drifted back into town to 
Hsten to the round of speeches and take part in the excitement 
on the pubHc square. 

Meanwhile someone had indeed carried word to the Ku Klux 
of the challenging statements made by the orators at the rally, 
and during the course of the evening a band of about one 
hundred and fifty hooded men rode into town in ghostly 
silence. In a flourish of bravado they rode slowly and deliber- 
ately around the public square, completely encircling the court- 
house where the Radical meeting was still in progress. Then, 
having completed the circuit, they withdrew to the neighbor- 
hood of the market-house on one of the streets approaching the 
square and stood there at ease in military formation, making no 
sound and making no threatening gesture, but obviously on 
the alert. 

General Ruger, in charge of the United States troops in 
Huntsville, viewed the parade from the balcony of his hotel, in 
company with some of his staff; and, as military men, they 
commented favorably on the admirable manner in which the 
men were deployed into line and their general bearing and 
movement. Somebody asked him what he was going to do 
about it, and he replied: *What can I do about it? It is very 
absurd, of course; but there is no law, federal or state, forbid- 
ding men to masquerade on horseback at night'; and the com- 
placent general went back to his dinner. 

But the appearance of the Ku Klux on the scene, even though 
they gave no sign of intended violence, had created an electric 
charge of excitement which swept through the crowd con- 
gregated on the square and communicated itself to those gath- 
ered on the inside listening to the speaking. 'The Ku Klux have 
come!' rang out on every side; and the crowds outside the 
court room churned around in a frenzy of excitement as the 
ghostly troopers rode by. Those inside quickly lost interest in 

134 Invisible Empire 

the speaking and wanted to see what was going on outside. 
They boiled out of the courthouse door on the north side, and 
added to the general confusion by their excited outcries. 

As was perhaps inevitable in such a milling mob of excited, 
armed men, somebody fired a gun, the testimony showing that 
the first shot came from among those in the courthouse yard 
around the door and was directed at the crowd of negroes and 
whites in the street. Thereupon there was a general round of 
firing, wholly on the part of the crowd gathered about the 
courthouse, as a result of which there were two killed and five 
wounded. One of those killed was Judge Silas Thurlow, a 
Republican, who was struck in the head by a stray ball. The 
Ku Klux, marshaled in regular formation near the market- 
house, were under the observation of a number of witnesses 
during the entire affray, and according to the testimony of 
all these witnesses, including General Ruger, the Ku Klux 
took no part in the firing. After the rioting was over the whistle 
of the Cyclops sounded and they rode out of town as quietly 
as they had come, not having fired a shot or committed an 
overt act during their stay. 

This affair was written up in the Northern newspapers in 
the most exaggerated style, with representations that as a result 
of a deep-laid political conspiracy a peaceable meeting of Re- 
publicans had been raided and forcibly broken up by the Ku 
Klux Klan and that a large number of Republicans had been 
killed. There was a prompt and thorough investigation by 
the Federal authorities, more than seventy witnesses being 
examined, and it was the universal evidence that the Ku Klux 
took no part in the riot, although one Republican lawyer ex- 
pressed the view that they were *the proximate cause' of the 
disturbance inasmuch as their appearance threw the negroes 
into a frenzy of fear which caused them to start shooting each 
other. After the affair was over and the Ku Klux were dis- 
persed, three men on foot were arrested who had Ku Klux dis- 

Alabama 135 

guises in their saddle-bags which they were carrying. They 
were held in jail during the night but released the next day, 
as they were guilty of no offense against the laws then in force; 
but the disguises were confiscated and pictures of them were 
widely circulated in the North. 

The parade at Huntsville was characteristic of the boldness 
with which the Ku Klux operated in Alabama, their audacity 
reaching a peak when they coolly defied a detachment of 
United States troops in Athens in 1870. Fearing the possibility 
of trouble in connection with the election in November of that 
year, the sheriff of Limestone County sent to the military com- 
mander at Huntsville and asked for a detachment of troops to 
be sent to Athens to preserve order on election day. The squad 
of twenty bluecoats, commanded by a Lieutenant Lynch, ar- 
rived in Athens two days before the election and went into 
camp near the public square. 

On the morning of election day, about eight o'clock, a squad 
of twelve Ku Klux calmly rode into Athens, all in full disguise 
and their horses disguised. They rode straight to the place 
where the Federal troops were camped, and their leader saluted 
Lieutenant Lynch and courteously announced: 'We have 
come to ask why you are here — what your instructions are.' 
Lynch considered this an impertinent question and, with all 
the dignity of a young army officer, replied that he could not 
hold any intercourse with them, asking them to leave. The 
Ku Klux, however, showed no disposition to leave; so Lieuten- 
ant Lynch hurried to the office of the Freedmen's Bureau and 
asked its agent, John H. Wager, to go back with him and lend 
his moral support in parleying with the unwelcome visitors. 
When Lynch and Wager got back to the street the band of 
Ku Klux rode up to meet them and the Cyclops said: 'We 
have been to see the mayor and he tells us that you are here to 
prevent disorder. That is what we want to do, so there is no 
use in our staying; but, Lieutenant, if they don't behave them- 

136 Invisible Empire 

selves, just scratch on the ground and we'll be )Vith you.' Then, 
with a courtly bow from the Cyclops, the Kiansmen wheeled 
and galloped out of town, leaving a spluttering lieutenant and 
a flabbergasted Freedmen's Bureau agent. 

This sortie into Athens was a much more audapious and 
dangerous enterprise than the earlier Huntsville parade, for by 
this time the severe Alabama Ku Klux law was in effect. 
This law, passed on December 26, 1868, pronounced every 
man found in disguise an outlaw and a felon and gave any 
man the right to shoot him^own, and also authorized any 
person injured by any disguisedjparties to sue the county for 
damages and indemnification to the amount of five thousand 
dollars. There were arrests and prosecutions under this law; 
but, despite a hostile government and judicial systegi, the 
men accused of being Ku Klux seemed somehow always to 
slip between the fingers of the avenging courts. 

In some sections of the state, however, the Ku Klux activities 
did not go unchallenged, and their sway was by no means un- 
disputed. In Fayette County there had been a very strong 
Union sentiment before the war, and a large number of soldiers 
for the Federal army had been recruited in this county. When 
the Ku Klux began their depredations there, the Federal 
veterans organized a counter-group called the Mossbacks; and 
the Mossbacks and the Ku Klux carried on a violent conflict in 
this county for several months, creating something bordering 
on a state of terrorism. Encounters were not infrequent; some 
were killed and many were wounded; but no effective steps 
were ever taken by the civil or military authorities to quell this 
intra-county civil war. 

In spite of this opposition, the Ku Klux seemed to be par- 
ticularly bold and audacious in Fayette County. There were 
four companies of them in the county, numbering two hundred 
members. Not only did they stage demonstrations on the 
public square while court was in session, but on one occasion 

Alabama 137 

they had the impudence to ride into town, arrayed in their 
disguises, and participate in a political meeting held in the 
courthouse at night for the nomination of a county officer. 
Emboldened by this, they came into town on another occasion 
at night, obtained the keys to the courthouse and held one of 
their meetings in the courtroom, with a Lictor at the door to 
refuse admission to any who did not have the countersign. 
Later, when the judge charged the grand jury to be especially 
active in an effort to suppress the Ku Klux, the Klan staged a 
parade of nearly a hundred mounted men in the square, and 
left in the courthouse yard a note which was ornamented with 
the picture of a coffin and which read simply: 'Go slow. K..K. K.' 

Radicals were not safe from the attention of the Ku Klux, 
even when they were not in politics. If they fraternized with 
the negroes or had the reputation of talking to them in a way to 
excite them, the long arm of the Ku Klux reached out after 
them; nobody was immune from their attention. John Tayloe 
Coleman, who had drifted out to Alabama from Virginia just 
before the war, espoused the Radical party and taught a negro 
school. Later he was appointed, through the political influence 
of Congressman Hays, as mail-route agent on the railroad 
running from Selma to Meridian. During February, 1871, as 
the train had stopped at Kewaunee Wood-Pile in Mississippi to 
take on wood, Coleman was standing in his mail-car making 
up the mail, with his back to the door leading into the passenger 
cars, when, he related: 

*I felt a pressure on my shoulder as if someone had come in 
and laid his hand on me. I turned around and there stood a 
man disguised from head to foot in a white gown that was drawn 
together at the top, just like a common tobacco bag, and it 
just fell over him and nearly touched his feet, and was bound 
around with red — around the mouth and around the eyes. 
He stood in this position with a pistol in each hand, with his 
arms extended toward me, and as I turned around I came 
right upon these two pistols. 

138 Invisible Empire 

'Of course I was very much frightened and I hollered to him 
not to shoot. The man remarked to me: "Do you know where 
this is?" and I said: "Yes, sir; Kewaunee Wood-Pile." He said: 
"You are perhaps aware that there was a mail agent killed here, 
shot right here at this place." I told him I was aware of the 
fact, knowing that he referred to the murder of Frank Diggs, 
a negro mail agent who was killed there several months previ- 
ously. "You, in your actions," warned the Ku Klux, "will 
govern yourself in such a way that you will attend to your own 
business and nobody else's; or else you may look for the same 
fate." He said further: "It is not worth while for you to try 
to do anything. I could have a thousand men in fifteen minutes; 
they are all out here in the woods." As a matter of fact, the 
train was full of men that night, strangers to me, who were 
going down to Meridian. It was said that trouble was expected 
at Meridian, and they were going down there to help out. 
After flourishing his pistols around several times, the disguised 
man walked back through the door leading in the direction of 
the passenger cars, and that was the last I saw of him. About 
a week after that, I was informed by the watchman at York 
station, as well as the telegraph operator, the train conductor 
and the baggage master, that there had been a party of eighteen 
disguised men at York waiting for the train; but it was running 
behind time and they got impatient and left, after waiting 
until nearly daylight, leaving the message: "Tell Coleman to 
stay on the east side of the Bigbee river; and if he does not he 
can decide to leave his shoe-string with us." ' 

Mr. Coleman very prudently took this pointed hint and ar- 
ranged for a transfer to the railroad line running from Mont- 
gomery to Calera. The Ku Klux, however, kept their eye on 
him; and as late as October, 1871, he received a message, il- 
lustrated with a number of threatening symbols such as daggers, 
coffins, skulls and crossbones, saying: 

*Dam Your Soul. The Horrible Sepulchre and Bloody Moon 

Alabama 139 

has at last arrived. Some live to-day to-morrow ''Die.''' We 
the undersigned understand through our Grand '''Cyclops'' that 
you have recommended a big Black Nigger for male agent on 
our nu rode; wel, sir, Jest you understand in time that if he 
gets on the rode you can make up your mind to pull roape. 
If you have anything to say in regard to the matter, meet the 
Grand Cyclops and Conclave at Den No. 4 at 12 o'clock mid- 
night, Oct. ist, 1 87 1. 

*When you are in Calera we warn you to hold your tongue 
and not speak so much with your mouth or otherwise you will 
be taken on supprise and led out by the Klan and learnt to 
stretch hemp. Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!' 

Coleman discreetly held his tongue, as suggested, and re- 
frained from speaking too much with his mouth, and so was 
fortunate enough to escape the necessity for pulling *roape.' 

There seems to be considerable room for doubt as to the 
authenticity of this Ku Klux warning, as it is extremely doubtful 
whether there was a legitimate organization of Ku Klux in 
Alabama as late as October, 1871. Steps looking to the dissolu- 
tion of the order in this state had been taken more than two years 
previously; and, although the dissolution orders then issued 
probably did not reach all the Dens in the state, the leaders had 
by that time decided that it was time to break it up. The 
character of the Klan's membership had declined; it was 
getting out of the control of its officers; and its responsible heads 
had come to recognize that, uncontrolled and in bad hands, the 
Ku Klux Klan was an extremely dangerous instrumentality. 

This change of sentiment developed gradually. As late as 
April 6, 1869, for example, Ryland Randolph in his Tusca- 
loosa paper was indulging in very thinly veiled recommenda- 
tions of Ku Klux violence. In speaking of Professor J. F. D. 
Richards, one of the members of the carpetbagger faculty of 
the state university, he said: 'He is the best subject for Ku Klux 
treatment we have ever seen. If boys were anything like as 

140 Invisible Empire 

mischievous as formerly, he would be driven off the street with 
well-aimed rotten eggs.' 

Within two weeks, however, even the fire-eating Randolph 
had cooled down considerably and was saying plaintively: 
* Everything that is now perpetrated is erroneously attributed 
to Ku Kluxers, and we are sick of hearing of these mythical 
personages. If one man beats another, it is a Ku Klux outrage,' 
etc. That very day a white man named Murchison Findley 
was killed by a negro, and in his issue of April 27 Randolph 
warned the people not to take this as a provocation for punish- 
ing negroes indiscriminately, thereby probably bringing on 
martial law. 'We want no Tennessee form of government 
among us,' he said. 

On June 22 he crossed the Rubicon with an editorial entitled 
'Let Murders Cease,' in which the erstwhile roaring Cyclops 
waved the olive branch. 'We regret to chronicle the murder 
of a man named Miller which occurred near New Lexington 
several days ago, owing, it is supposed, to political considera- 
tions, though this is not certain. ... It is now time, we are 
free to announce, for murders and assassinations to cease. . . . 
We now have a sheriff of our own choice, and we must sustain 
him by making arrests whenever the offending parties shall be 
identified. . . . Again we repeat, let us have quiet. Let these 
murders ceased 

This was just about the time of the official disbandment of 
the Ku Klux Klan in northern Alabama, and an editorial 
of this tenor in Randolph's paper at this time is especially 
significant. By September he had become aggressively pacific, 
and in his edition of the twenty-first of that month he fulmi- 
nated: 'Carpetbag incendiaries are roaming through the north- 
ern counties of the state claiming to be Ku Klux, so as to make 
capital for their party as well as to rob negroes and have the 
deeds laid on respectable whites. None of the outrages that 
are now committed are the work of so-called Ku Kluxes. 

Alabama 141 

Those clans have long since ceased to exist; and whenever a 
radical sheet attributes dark deeds to any such organization 
it knowingly falsifies the facts.' 

This was a prejudiced but fairly accurate statement of the 
condition of affairs in Alabama at that time. Since the familiar 
Ku Klux disguise offered such a convenient and serviceable 
cloak to deeds of violence, it was beginning to be used by any- 
body who wanted to commit some crime or wished to wreak 
some private vengeance without the danger of disclosing his 

Negroes were Ku Kluxing one another, common outlaws 
and robbers were donning white robes and masks and infesting 
the highways. Volunteer groups of regulators, without claim 
to any sort of formal organization, were dressing up in Ku Klux 
suits and flogging or otherwise maltreating those who had in- 
curred their displeasure. 

One of the efforts at social regulation undertaken by the 
latter-day band of regulators, operating in the disguise of the 
Ku Klux, was the punishment of a negro named Bill Washing- 
ton who lived near Tuscaloosa. Washington, as a manifestation 
of his freedom and his new social status, had taken unto himself 
a white wife, described as *a low woman.' This so greatly out- 
raged the moral dignity of the community that a group of hot- 
headed young men decided to swoop down on him and Ku 
Klux him. In approaching Washington, however, they caught 
a Tartar, as he refused to submit tamely despite their superior 
numbers. When they knocked on his door he refused to open 
it; and when they broke it down he greeted them with a blast 
from his shotgun which fatally wounded one of the young men. 
Washington, of course, was immediately killed by the raiders, 
who then made off carrying their wounded comrade with them. 
He had received the full load of the shotgun in his breast and 
died within a few days, much to the distress of his father and 
mother, who were most estimable people, and also to the sorrow 

142 Invisible Empire 

of the mulatto girl with whom he had been living in adultery. 

The extent to which the Ku Klux name and uniform were 
being used for deeds of out-and-out outlawry was testified to 
by Daniel Coleman of Limestone County. He testified that in 
1 87 1 there was operating in that part of the state an organized 
body of counterfeit Ku Klux who were banded together Tor the 
purpose of horse- thieving — stealing and thieving generally.' 
He said that they had assumed the disguise formerly used by 
the old Ku Klux Klan with the idea of palming themselves off 
as Ku Klux; and testified further that this gang was part of an 
organization which had connections extending into Kentucky 
and clear up into Ohio, with arrangements made for running 
off the stolen horses to points in the latter states. Incidentally, 
to keep themselves occupied in their spare time, these horse 
thieves engaged in illicit distilling on a rather elaborate scale. 
In posting their notices, d la Ku Klux, these desperadoes had 
the ironic audacity to sign themselves *Men of Justice' — but 
their neighbors' horses kept disappearing during the night-time. 

Meanwhile the original Ku Klux had been officially dis- 
banded, and a notice to that effect had appeared in some of the 
Alabama newspapers during the summer of 1 869 signed by the 
*Grand Cyclops.' After this the activities of the authentic Klan 
were officially discontinued; but the machinery they had set 
up was too effective to be abandoned entirely by evilly inclined 
people, and there were still sporadic reports of acts of violence 
committed by small squads of disguised men — all, naturally 
enough, attributed to the Ku Klux. 

Things reached a climax when a gang of masked men kid- 
napped a justice of the peace in Limestone County named 
Leonard L. Weir and subjected him to the most brutal punish- 
ment and abuse. Weir recognized a number of them and had 
them indicted, after a posse of the native white men of Athens 
(many of them former Ku Klux) had been organized for his 
rescue. After his assailants were indicted, the commissioners' 

Alabama 143 

court of the county met and made an appropriation of money 
to employ the best available counsel for their prosecution. 

On September 25, 1871, the citizens of Limestone County 
held a mass meeting in the courthouse to protest against the 
outrages that had been committed by these lawless bands, and 
adopted resolutions expressing a determination to devise *ways 
and means for the suppression of lawlessness and crime, to ex- 
press our indignation at the recent outrages in the county, and 
to unite our efforts for the maintenance of the supremacy of 
the law.* A concluding paragraph of the resolution stated that 
'We are in dead earnest, and we mean what we say when we 
declare that we intend by every means known to the law, "let 
it fall on whom it may," to put down the lawlessness that now 
curses and blights the county.' 

This meeting was attended by a number of the leading 
citizens who were known to have been affiliated with the 
original Ku Klux Klan in the county, and their names were 
signed to the resolutions which were ordered published in the 
local newspapers; this action being taken as a sort of public 
notification that the genuine Ku Klux were actively up in 
arms against the deviltries of the spurious Klan then operating. 
To add emphasis to this public pronouncement there also ap- 
peared in the Athens newspapers a public notice headed 'Im- 
portant Order' and signed 'Ex-Cyclops,' which said: 

'Whereas, Once it was proper and necessary that steps should 
be taken to put down and destroy the dangerous power and 
influence of the Union Leagues and evil bands of men; and 
whereas, law-abiding responsible and prudent men united 
themselves together under the name of Ku Klux, met and 
restored peace and safety to the citizens of the county; ac- 
complished the object of their combination, and in obedience 
to an act of our Legislature disbanded, and ceased to exist as 
an organization; and whereas, it has come to the knowledge of 
those who were once genuine Ku Klux that some of its members 

144 Invisible Empire 

and others claiming to be Ku Klux, and disguised, are con- 
stantly seen in the Northern portion of this county, and are 
robbing and plundering the weak and defenseless negroes and 
whites, and are greatly disturbing the peace and quiet of that 

'Now we, the once genuine Ku Klux, in council for that pur- 
pose do solemnly declare, that those men are known, and can 
be named and located, and are thieves and robbers; and that 
unless they cease these outrages and pull off their disguises, we 
will have them published and turn them over to the civil 
authorities to be dealt with under the severe penalty of the law. 
The power that created and supported this laudable Klan until 
its disbandment is and will be invoked to crush out and destroy 
its spurious and bogus off-springs. We here give assurance to 
the people that it is none of the good elements of the deceased 
organization that are either seen in disguise or that commit 
these outrages, and request them to resist to the extent of the 
law upon the subject, and their rights to defend their property, 
homes and lives.' 

This was just about the death knell of the Ku Klux Klan 
in Alabama. As long as the original, formally organized Klan 
was operating, supported by the sympathies of most of the 
responsible population of the state, it was impossible for the 
organized powers of the government to cope with it. But when 
the good people deserted the Klan, and it lost the support of 
public sentiment, it was impossible for it to survive and be 
countenanced as a symbol of violence in disguise. 



HE Ku Klux movement in Mississippi seems to have 
passed through two entirely different and fairly well-defined 
stages of existence, although it is not entirely clear whether the 
latter stage was directly connected with the first. There ap- 
pears to be general agreement that the Ku Klux were active in 
a number of the counties of the state during 1867 and 1868; 
and this activity seems to have been, beyond any question, tied 
in closely with the Ku Klux organization then operating in 
various sections of the South. According to several people, 
however, both Democrats and Republicans, this movement died 
out in Mississippi some time in 1868 or early in 1869; and one 
of the most prominent and active carpetbaggers in Mississippi 
testified that 'I never saw a more quiet election in the North 
than that of 1869 in Mississippi.' 

Some time during 1870, however, there was another Ku Klux 
irruption; and the second manifestation was just as violent as 
the first, if not more so. That this latter activity was not an 
entirely irregular and informal aflfair is indicated by the state- 
ment made relative to the organization in Lee County, for 
example. In this county, according to the statement of a former 
member of the order, 'The Ku Klux Klan was organized by an 
Irishman named John Cole who lived near Saltillo. Mr. Cole 
was sent to Memphis in the spring of 1870 to take the required 

146 Invisible Empire 

oath and get a commission to organize a Klan in Lee County. 
. . . The entire membership was made up of men prominent in 
both church and state, and exercised great power for good 
throughout the country in keeping down the vicious negroes.' 
There was evidently at that time a recognized Ku Klux head- 
quarters in Memphis; and the Mississippians, it will be ob- 
served, were careful to obtain authority from headquarters 
before proceeding to organize. 

Speaking of the cause of the 1870-71 revival of activities of 
the Klan, a writer in the Publications of the Mississippi Historical 
Society has said, by way of explanation: 'First, there was a 
comparative failure of the cotton crop in 1870, which added to 
the unrest. The excitement of the Alabama election in August, 
1870, in which the Ku Klux were active in some of the border 
counties, was felt to an extent in the East Mississippi counties. 
Then there came on the time for paying the exorbitant tax; in 
some of the counties amounting to as much as 4% of an extrava- 
gant valuation of properties. Under the operation of an act of 
the Legislature of 1870 changing the time for collecting the 
taxes, two annual collections fell in one year. By far the largest 
item of taxation was the school system, newly installed. The 
main immediate precipitant and provocation of the disorders, it 
is indisputable, was a school system primarily designed for negro 
education. To this the hostility was general. It is quite easy to 
moralize against such a sentiment as unpatriotic and unwise. 
But was there not a cause, deep-rooted in racial instinct and 
training, and fed on bad government? Be this as it may, where 
discontent ripened into lawlessness, the nearest objects for it to 
be vented on were school houses and school teachers, some of 
the school houses being burned and a number of the more ob- . 
noxious teachers being ordered out of their counties. Some, 
on refusing to obey the order, were whipped. This was out- 
rageous, and would have been punished by law had the citizens 
controlled the machinery of the law. . . . Dissatisfaction with 

Mississippi 147 

the establishment of negro schools and the heavy and arbitrary 
taxation levied by the county boards, under authority of the 
school law of 1870, was the soil in which the Ku Klux seed 
sprouted. . . . The law itself was the least of it. Every teacher of 
a negro school, supported at the expense of the white people, 
was a Radical tool and emissary to excite race hatred among 
the negroes. . . . All over the state robbery under the school 
system was especially rank.' 

Aside from this duplex appearance of the Ku Klux, the 
Reconstruction of Mississippi had proceeded along lines ap- 
proximately parallel to those in other Southern States. In 
June, 1865, William A. Sharkey was appointed provisional 
governor of the state by President Johnson; but in the election 
held in the fall of that year, despite the disfranchisement of 
most of the native whites, a Conservative, Benjamin G. Hum- 
phreys, was elected governor. It was charged that the white 
people had intimidated the negroes and prevented them from 
voting; but, whether that was so or not. Governor Humphreys 
served as governor until he was in 1868 removed from office by 
General Grant, at which time General Adelbert Ames of Massa- 
chusetts was appointed provisional governor of the state. 

Meanwhile the new problems created by friction between the 
whites and the newly freed blacks were rising in Mississippi as 
elsewhere throughout the South, intensified by the pernicious 
activities of the Freedmen's Bureau and the Loyal Leagues. 
So provocative did the Loyal Leagues become that the Central 
Democratic Association of the state of Mississippi early in 1868 
adopted resolutions denouncing the League as being 'not only 
mischievous but well calculated to disturb the peace and good 
order of society.' These resolutions pledged protection to those 
negroes who did not join the League, threatened not to 'employ, 
countenance or support in any manner any man, white or 
black,' who belonged to the organization; and declared that 
'Our respect for a colored man is far above that which we enter- 

148 Invisible Empire 

tain for any Northern man or renegade Southern man who 
avows doctrines favorable to, or in encouragement of, the Loyal 
League, which society we know to be in direct violation of the 
laws of the state.' 

This opposition to the Loyal League was intense and bitter 
throughout the state, and in the Vicksburg Times in June, 1868, 
there was published a blacklist of merchants and hotels employ- 
ing negroes who belonged to the League, together with lists of 
draymen, barbers and other negro laborers who were members. 
*The Southern Democrat who feeds a Radical, black or white,' 
said this newspaper, 'is false to his country, false to God and false 
to himself. He who supports them in any shape is a coward who 
disgraces the name of man.' 

Flare-ups were of regular occurrence; and the possibility of 
some sort of desperate action by the irresponsible and uncon- 
trolled negroes kept the white population in a state of subdued 
terror. So serious and genuine were the apprehensions of 
trouble from the negroes during these times that General Ord, 
then in charge of that military district, became alarmed and in 
1867 asked Governor Humphreys to issue an official proclama- 
tion on the subject, which the governor did. 

In this proclamation Humphreys referred to the reports 
reaching him and General Ord that 'combinations and con- 
spiracies are being formed among the blacks to seize the lands 
and establish farms, expecting and hoping that Congress will 
arrange a plan of division and distribution, but unless this is 
done by January next they will proceed to help themselves, and 
are determined to go to war and are confident that they will be 
victors in any conflict with the whites.' The proclamation went 
on to admonish the negroes that if they entertained any such 
expectations of a division of the land they had been deceived, 
and that 'the first outbreak against the quiet and peace of 
society that assumes the form of insurrection will signalize the 
destruction of your cherished hopes and the ruin of your race.' 

MissisL.ppi 149 

General Ord backed up the governor, and the immediate threat 
of insurrection was quelled; but the fear remained in the white 
men's — and women's — hearts. 

In such circumstances as these, with the fear of a negro in- 
surrection constantly before them and with no adequate pro- 
tection in the courts, the residents of the different locaHties 
instinctively began to organize informal bands of young men to 
patrol the country at night for the purpose of keeping order. In 
one county a group of ex- Confederate soldiers effected a more or 
less formal organization known as Heggie's Scouts, in the for- 
mation of which General Forrest was said to have been instru- 
mental. Forrest was making his headquarters at Aberdeen, in 
Monroe County, at this time in connection with his railroad 
promotion work; and on the week-ends he spent in his quarters 
at Aberdeen he was frequently consulted by the native white 
people as to what they might do to protect themselves. In their 
state of mind, it did not take much persuasion to win them over 
to the Ku Klux idea; and in that part of Mississippi subject to 
Forrest's influence the Ku Klux Klan soon began to make itself 
felt as an active force in the community. 

In no other state than Mississippi did the matter of negro 
schools seem to occupy the Klan's attention to such a great 
degree, and in our present state of enlightenment it seems 
strange that opposition to a state school system should have 
been at the root of any Ku Klux trouble; but it must be remem- 
bered that prior to the war there had been no thought of public 
education of the negroes, and very little thought of any public- 
school system at all. The opening of public schools for negroes 
not only raised the issue of having the taxpayers' money used 
for a strange new purpose, but there was also the fear that the 
ultimate object of the system was to establish mixed schools 
where white and negro children would be brought together as a 
first entering wedge in some enforced system of social equality of 
the races. 

150 Invisible Empire 

However unwarranted and unworthy such opposition may 
now appear to be, it was apparently one of the principal objects 
of some of the men who composed the Mississippi Ku Klux in 
1870 and 1 871; and directly as a result of their violently mani- 
fested protest the collection of the excessive school taxes was 
halted in Monroe, Lowndes, and other counties. Furthermore, 
members of the school boards were frequently the recipients of 
Ku Klux notices ordering them to resign (which they generally 
did) ; and teachers of negro schools received warnings to cease 
their pedagogical work and depart. 

A particularly obnoxious cog in the machinery of the school 
system was A. P. Huggins, who lived in Aberdeen and who was 
superintendent of the public schools of that county and also 
assistant assessor of internal revenue. He was an Ohio-born 
carpetbagger who had served in the Union army and who had 
taken up his residence in Mississippi immediately following the 
conclusion of the war. Holding the two offices of tax collector 
and school superintendent, Huggins was a dual object of the 
local Klan's animosity; and it was inevitable that he should feel 
the weight of their hand. 

His fate overtook him one night in March, 1 868, while he was 
spending the night with a Mr. George R. Ross. Mr. Huggins 
retired early, and at about ten o'clock was awakened by the 
calls of a band of Ku Klux who had surrounded the house. He 
went outside at their command and held considerable parley 
with them, Huggins later expressing surprise at the character of 
the men comprising the group. 'They were a much different 
class of men than I ever supposed I would meet in a Ku Klux 
gang,' he later said, describing them as 'genteel persons, men of 

The leader of the Ku Klux told Huggins that his case had been 
considered by the local Den and that it had been decided that 
he must leave the state within ten days. The Cyclops told him, 
Huggins said, that 'the Ku Klux rule was, first, to give the 

Mississippi 1 5 1 

warning; second, to enforce obedience to their laws by whip- 
ping; third, to kill by the Klan operating as a group; and, fourth, 
if that was not done and if the one who was warned still failed to 
obey, then they were sworn to kill him privately by assassina- 

Despite this dread threat, the spunky Huggins told them 
flatly that he intended to pay no attention to their warning and 
that he would stay there as long as he chose. They, in the most 
polite and civil manner, urged upon him the wisdom of obeying 
their decree, but he was obstinate in his refusal. Thereupon they 
proceeded to disarm him, stripped him of his coat, and in a 
calm and deliberate manner administered to him the punish- 
ment to which he had been sentenced, a whipping of seventy-five 
lashes. At intervals they would withhold the lash and ask him if 
he was ready to agree to leave the state, but he steadfastly re- 
fused. ('He was a gritty chap,' one of the Ku Klux later said 
admiringly.) So the flogging continued until Huggins fainted 
away. They then revived him and, after warning him that the 
next form of punishment would be death, rode away and left 

Bad enough in itself, the whipping of Mr. Huggins developed 
into a matter of more than personal and local interest. A Lieu- 
tenant Pickett of the United States Army who was then stationed 
in Mississippi obtained from Huggins the blood-stained night- 
shirt which he wore on the night of the flogging, and took it to 
Washington with him and presented it to Ben Butler. Butler, 
gleeful at such a splendid chance to make a sensational anti- 
Southern speech, appeared on the floor of the Senate with the 
gory garment in his hands and made a typically denunciatory 
address to that august body, waving the ensanguined nightshirt 
above his head as he talked. It was from this that the 'bloody 
shirt' expression originated; and thus the humble nightdress of 
that forgotten carpetbagger has become immortalized in the 
vernacular of the nation. 

152 Invisible Empire 

Another sensational and tragic affair growing out of the Ku 
Klux Klan's antagonism for the negro school system was what 
was known as *The Pontotoc Raid,' which took place in May, 
1 87 1. Several schoolhouses had been burned in the county, and 
Colonel Robert W. Flournoy, who was county superintendent 
of schools and also editor of the Pontotoc Equal Rights (aside 
from being assistant postmaster and a practicing attorney), 
boldly charged the acts of arson to the Ku Klux and vigorously 
denounced them for it. He admitted himself that he wrote 
*some very bitter articles' in which he denounced them as 'a 
body of midnight prowlers, robbers and assassins.' These 
editorial attacks continued for two or three weeks; and Flournoy 
was then warned that the Ku Klux were threatening to visit 
him in retaliation. 

Sure enough, on the night of May 1 2 the Ku Klux came gal- 
loping into town, 'riding two and two, like cavalry'; but there 
were widely differing stories as to the purposes of their visit and 
just what happened after they got there. According to friends 
and apologists of the raiders, their purposes were entirely inno- 
cent and pacific. They were not Ku Klux at all, merely a bunch 
of frivolous young men who went on the trip to Pontotoc from a 
distant corner of the county Tor fun and frolic' They carried 
with them horns and dinner-bells and tin pans, along with 
a home-made noise-making device which they called a 
'dumb-bell,' described as 'a raw-hide stretched over a hollow 
drum, with a string in it waxed over; and pulling it by the 
string, as the fingers slip over the string it makes a shrieking 
noise. They carried that to Pontotoc to scare Mr. Flournoy and 
break up the paper he was editing. They did nothing in the 
world, no harm at all, and were going off when they were fired 
on and a man killed.' 

A somewhat different version of the affair was given by Judge 
Austin Pollard, who was chancellor of the district embracing 
Pontotoc and three other counties. Judge Pollard and his friends 

Mississippi 153 

had taken heed of the warning that the Ku Klux were planning 
to visit Pontotoc, and they were not caught napping. As he 
related it, 'I had been on a hunting expedition with some 
friends of mine, and afterward we met at the court-house in the 
town of Pontotoc, and four of us sat playing a game of euchre.* 
John L. Gorman, a printer employed on Flournoy's paper, 
acted as a sort of picket for Pollard and his friends; and shortly 
before midnight he rushed into the room and exclaimed 
excitedly: 'Gentlemen, the Ku Klux are here!' 

This broke up the euchre game in short order, and Judge 
Pollard and his friends quickly grabbed up their guns and pro- 
ceeded to a nearby blacksmith shop, where they hid themselves 
to await the coming of the Klansmen. Pollard related that 
someone suggested that they should fire on the Ku Klux with- 
out parley, but that he demurred, as he wanted no bloodshed. 
Then somebody suggested that he, being chancellor of the dis- 
trict, should advance to meet them and demand their sur- 
render, which he agreed to do. * Gentlemen,' he said when he 
met them, according to his story, 'If your mission is one of 
peace and pleasantry you will not be molested; if, on the other 
hand, you are for bloodshed, in the name of and by virtue of 
the laws of the state of Mississippi, I demand that you sur- 
render.' Perhaps the Ku Klux were panic-stricken by this 
ponderous challenge. At any rate, as Judge Pollard told it: 
'Instantly a pistol shot was fired from the crowd of men in dis- 
guise; very soon afterward another pistol shot was fired; and I 
heard a voice from another street commanding them to "Halt," 
and then another pistol was fired from the Ku Klux band, and 
then the firing became general on both sides.' 

Some witnesses to the affray said that there was no formal 
challenge of the Ku Klux party, but that they were ambushed 
by Judge Pollard and his party secreted in the blacksmith shop. 
But, however it started, there was a lot of shooting and the Ku 
Klux party fled precipitately, without pursuit. Judge Pollard 

154 Invisible Empire 

and his party patrolled the streets of Pontotoc the rest of the 
night, but there was no further disturbance or confusion. 

When daylight came a man was found lying in the street, 
dressed in full Ku Klux regalia. He was severely wounded and 
bleeding profusely, but he was not dead, and after his mask had 
been cut from his face he rallied and talked a little. He gave his 
name as George F. Dillard, but it later developed that this was 
the name of his brother who had been killed at the battle of 
Shiloh. His name was found to be Richard Dillard, and he 
lived in a distant part of the county. Nobody in Pontotoc knew 
him. After lingering a short while he died; and his mother, 
notified of his death, sent a wagon for his body and took it home 
and buried it. 

A version of the affair somewhat different from Judge Pol- 
lard's came from another source. A dentist in Pontotoc, 
Doctor H. H. Porter, owned a printing press and a small font of 
type, and he set to work and printed a broadside account of 
the embroglio on a single sheet of paper headed 'The Pontotoc 
Times. Published in Pontotoc, Miss., by Dr. H. H. Porter. 
Free. Vol. i. No. i,' explaining his volunteer one-time news- 
paper by the statement that 'there being no paper published 
here which is generally read by the white people, I propose pub- 
lishing a brief account of what transpired on last Friday night.' 

Doctor Porter's account of the affray is dramatic and thrilling, 
if not entirely impartial and unbiased. Tt was about eleven 
o'clock,' he relates. *A company of masked serenaders made its 
appearance on the square with horns, bells, tin pans — in fact, 
all sorts of things that would make a racket — with which they 
were amusing themselves and all whom they could attract. 
From a consciousness of their own deserts, it appears that some 
persons imagined them to be "sure enough Ku Klux" and right 
after themselves. Accordingly, a company of men, ten or 
twelve, that had been keeping late hours over on the east side 
of the square (this needs no explanation) were paraded, armed 

Mississippi 155 

with double-barrel shotguns loaded with buckshot, and am- 
bushed in Ren. Grant's wood shop. As the company ap- 
proached, starting out of town. . . the ambushing party dis- 
charged a raking fire of upwards of twenty guns at short dis- 
tance, killing one of the boys (Richard Dillard) and wounding 
many horses, several of which were collected up and returned 
to their rightful owners.' 

The retreating band of Ku Klux lost their bearings in trying 
to get out of the unfamiliar town and got on the wrong road. 
By the time they got on the road leading to Fosterville in the 
northwestern part of the county, which was where they had 
come from, it was so near day that most of them discarded their 
disguises, and the next day there were twenty-seven Ku Klux 
disguises picked up in the roads near Pontotoc. 

Dillard, after his death, was denounced by a carpetbagger in 
Pontotoc as *one of the most desperate characters who has ever 
inhabited this part of the country.' Among the natives, how- 
ever, he was looked upon as a sort of hero and martyr; and a 
Pontotoc man named Pitts who started a movement to erect a 
monument to Dillard obtained sixty signatures to his sub- 
scription list. 

It was openly asserted in Pontotoc that the leader of the Ku 
Klux raiding party was Tom Sadler, who was sheriff of the 
county. His father came to Pontotoc and claimed as his own 
one of the impounded wounded horses; but the elder Sadler 
decried the suggestion that his son had any part in the raid. He 
surmised that some mischievous young men had broken into his 
barn and taken out his horse unbeknownst to him; he knew Tom 
didn't do it. Tom Sadler went off to Texas the day after the 
raid; but the timing of his wanderlust was probably only a 

In 1870 the Mississippi state legislature passed the anti-Ku 
Klux law, proscribing all members of the order, and Governor 
Alcorn offered a reward of five thousand dollars for the arrest 

156 Invisible Empire 

and conviction of any person found guilty of committing crimes 
of violence in disguise. It was a curious circumstance, and an 
ironic one, that the first claim for this reward and the first in- 
dictments under the act grew out of the Ku Kluxing of a 
Democratic negro named Adam Kennard by a group of hostile 
negroes in Ku Klux disguise, led by a notorious white Radical. 
Out of the Kennard incident there developed an affair which 
provides an excellent example of the seething and complex state 
of affairs in Mississippi (and, in fact, in the entire South) at 
this time. This was known as 'The Meridian Riot,' which took 
place in June, 1871, and which was generally described in the 
North as 'another Ku Klux outrage.' 

Meridian is in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, fifteen miles 
from the Alabama state line, Lauderdale County immediately 
adjoining Sumter County in Alabama, of which Livingston is 
the county seat. In March, 1871, Adam Kennard came to 
Meridian from Livingston, representing himself as a deputy 
sheriff, and seeking to arrest three negroes who were accused of 
having fled to Meridian from Sumter County after breaking 
their labor contracts with their employers there. Kennard was 
able to show no warrant or requisition, and his authority was 
resisted to such an extent that he was unable to make the ar- 
rests. He persisted, however, and as a result of his persistence 
he was visited one night by a band of disguised men who took 
him out and robbed him of his clothing and money, whipped 
him very severely, and shot and wounded him as he ran away 
from his assailants. It developed that the assault was com- 
mitted by a band of negroes, led by a white man whom Kennard 
identified, despite his disguise, as a scalawag named Daniel 
Price; and he had Price and the negroes arrested and prosecuted 
under the new Ku Klux law. Kennard asserted that there could 
be no mistake about his identification of Price, that he knew him 
intimately, they having been political cronies previously in 
Livingston when both were active in Republican affairs. 

Mississippi 157 

Price, who seems to have had an unusual gift for provoking 
trouble, had left Alabama under something of a cloud. In 
Livingston he had offended the white natives by his undue 
familiarity with the negroes, associating with them entirely to 
the exclusion of the white race and constantly agitating them to 
assert their new-found social and political rights. It was also 
stated that while a resident of Livingston he 'took up with a 
yellow girl' and 'stayed with her like a wife.' It being suggested 
by some tolerant person that perhaps this flaw in Mr. Price's 
moral armor was not exactly unique in those times, a native of 
Livingston explained the public's disapproval of his conduct by 
saying: 'It's just like old Judge Pickens said — "lying by the 
thing don't do so well"; that's different from "taking a little 
and running." But he was a very daring, bold man, and stayed 
by her against all opposition.' 

Aside from this affront to the public morals, it was also 
stated that Price was a pardoned convict out of the penitentiary, 
where he had been imprisoned for grand larceny; and that he 
was afterward a member of the Confederate army, from which 
he deserted to join the Union troops. After the surrender he 
went to Livingston and taught a negro school, threw in his lot 
with the Radical party and was elected circuit-court clerk in 
1868. He was described as 'an unprincipled man' and 'an 
instrument of difficulty and bitterness on the part of the colored 
people.' The statement was made that 'he had such control 
over the negroes that, if he had desired it, at any moment a 
torch could have been put to every house in town and a knife to 
every throat; and the people did not believe that he was too good 
to do it.' 

Price reached the pinnacle of his bad eminence in Livingston 
when he did actually advise the negroes of the county to arm 
themselves and march on the town and lay it in ashes. Fortu- 
nately for Livingston, some of the cooler heads among the 
white advisers of the negroes got word of the mad plan and 

158 * Invisible Empire* 

persuaded the excited negroes to go home and put up their 
guns. Feehng ran high against Price; and he wisely decided 
that this was a propitious time to leave Livingston and take up 
his residence in Meridian. 

Arrived in Meridian, Price slipped right into the smooth- 
working Radical machinery there and had little difficulty in 
having himself made county superintendent of schools, in addi- 
tion to teaching a negro school himself. His incendiary oratory 
made him popular with the negroes and the Radical whites; 
and, when he was arrested for Ku Kluxing Adam Kennard, he 
was released on two hundred dollars bail bond and his Meridian 
friends rallied enthusiastically to his defense. 

Kennard also had some loyal white friends in Livingston, 
and when the day set for Price's trial arrived Kennard appeared 
on the scene in Meridian accompanied by a large crowd of 
armed white men from Sumter County, Alabama, who an- 
nounced that they had come to see that Kennard had a fair 
showing in the court and was allowed to testify and to introduce 
the evidence that he claimed to be able to produce. They all 
carried double-barreled shotguns, and their number was vari- 
ously estimated at from one hundred and fifty to three hundred 
— probably nearer the smaller figure. 

The Alabamians were not disguised, but the people of 
Meridian referred to them as *the Ku Klux from Alabama' — 
an example of the current inclination to attach the Ku Klux 
label to all extra-legal activities — and the charge was not 
denied. Upon their arrival in Meridian these undisguised Ku 
Klux immediately proceeded to round up the three negroes 
whom Kennard had vainly sought to arrest, tied them and sent 
them back to Livingston on the next train. They then boldly 
stacked their arms in the street and went into the hotels of the 
city and ate breakfast. Breakfast finished, they cavalierly told 
the intimidated hotelkeepers: 'We are for the good of the city; 
charge it to the city' and walked out. 

Mississippi 159 

With this miniature army of occupation on their hands, the 
court authorities at Meridian prudently continued the trial for 
a week. The next week the Alabamians were again in town, and 
the case was again continued. Price, apparently emboldened 
by the delay in bringing him to trial, openly threatened that if 
his trial resulted in his being sent to jail he 'would then and 
there commence shooting,' stating further that he had arranged 
for thirty armed negroes to be in the courtroom and 'see him 
out.' Fearing riot and bloodshed if Price's trial should be held 
under such hair-trigger conditions, his lawyer and the prose- 
cuting attorney agreed that it would be better for everybody 
concerned, and certainly conducive to the peace of the com- 
munity, if Price should forfeit his bond and silently steal away, 
to which suggestion he discreetly acceded. 

So far as Price himself was concerned, that ended the case; 
but it was just the setting of the scenery for the really serious 
aftermath. The Meridian negroes were greatly inflamed by 
Price's secret and ignominious flight. They felt that he should 
have remained there with them and fought the matter to a 
finish. They also keenly resented the forcible arrest of the three 
negroes by the Alabama Ku Klux. As a result of this seething 
feeling of discontent, a call was issued for a negro meeting to be 
held on the following Saturday in the courthouse. A white man 
who presumed to inquire as to the purpose of the proposed meet- 
ing was told that it was strictly a negro affair and that *you 
rebs' had better stay away from there. 

The meeting attracted a large crowd of blacks, and through- 
out the afternoon they were subjected to a terrific flow of oratory 
from three negro leaders of violently radical sentiments — 
Warren Tyler, William Clopton and Aaron Moore, the latter a 
member of Congress. Clopton told the negroes that they ought 
to arm themselves and take action to resist the Ku Klux. *Ku 
Kluxing has got to be stopped!' he shouted, amid a salvo of 
applause, going on to tell them that every white man was a Ku 

i6o Invisible Empire 

Klux and that the negroes ought to take matters into their own 
hands and fight for their rights. Tyler said that they ought to 
follow the example of the Indians in the way of vengeance. 
*When one of an Indian tribe was killed by a white man/ he 
said, 'they always took revenge by killing a white man, whether 
they killed the right white man or not.' Moore referred his 
hearers to the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and 
Gomorrah, and made the dark prediction that before many days 
Meridian *might be laid in dust and ashes.' Other speakers 
continued along the same inflammatory lines, working the 
negroes up to a point of frenzy, and the meeting adjourned in 
disorder after pledging its allegiance to the Loyal League. 

Reports of the militant and hostile nature of the negro meeting 
spread around Meridian, and the white citizens became very 
much alarmed for their safety. Nor was their anxiety allayed 
when the negroes, after the meeting adjourned, marched 
through the streets beating drums and indulging in noisy 
demonstrations and open threats of violence. Meridian, it will 
be recalled, had been put to the torch by General Sherman in 
1863 and totally destroyed; and in 1870 it was a ramshackle sort 
of town, made up mostly of buildings of flimsy construction. 
The citizens of Meridian were therefore at this time peculiarly 
sensitive to any threatened danger from fire, and all the negroes' 
talk about laying the town in ashes created particularly uneasy 
forebodings. So, when immediately after nightfall it was dis- 
covered that one of the largest storehouses of the town was on 
fire, a shudder of terror ran through the whole populace, and 
everybody excitedly turned out to try to prevent the spread of 
the flames and the complete destruction of the city. The fire 
following so closely on the negroes' meeting, it was generally 
suspected and openly charged that they had set fire to the build- 
ing as the opening gun in a warfare of arson, and this belief was 
intensified when the negroes not only refused to help put out the 
blaze but gathered on the street in large groups abusing those 

Mississippi i6i 

who were working at the job of fire-fighting, meanwhile firing 
their guns in loud volleys in an apparent effort to intimidate 
them and add to the confusion. 

'Damn old Meridian; she has give us a lot of trouble; let's 
burn her all up tonight!' cried Bill Clopton, who made himself 
especially conspicuous, loudly telling the negroes: 'This is a 
white man's fire. Don't you help them put it out. God damn 
the white people!' and further: 'Why in the hell don't you go 
home and get your guns, something to shoot with? What in the 
hell are you standing here for?' He was also heard to say, in 
answer to another negro's question: 'Yes, kill all of them — 
women and children too.' He punctuated his remarks by in- 
discriminately firing his pistol into the air; and finally became 
so insufferably obnoxious that somebody knocked him in the 
head with the butt of a pistol and temporarily quieted him. 

As a consequence of the fire, Clopton, Tyler and Moore were 
arrested, charged with arson and disorderly conduct. When 
they were arraigned for preliminary examination on Monday, 
Tyler (who was a shrewd and intelligent negro) undertook to 
conduct his own case. The atmosphere of the courtroom was sur- 
charged with suppressed excitement as the examination pro- 
ceeded, and the explosion came at the conclusion of the testi- 
mony of a white witness named James Brantley who testified 
against Tyler. As Brantley rose to leave the witness chair, 
Tyler said: 'Just wait right there a minute; I want to introduce 
two or three witnesses to impeach your veracity.' Brantley, in- 
censed at this, grabbed up a hickory walking stick and raised it 
as though to threaten Tyler. Tyler fled precipitately; but as he 
passed through the door of the courtroom he turned and, pulling 
a pistol from his pocket, fired wildly into the room. The bullet 
struck the judge on the bench. Judge Bramlette, killing him in- 
stantly; and immediately the whole courtroom was in an uproar 
which rapidly spread throughout the entire town. A perfect 
fusillade of pistol fire crashed out in the courtroom and several 

1 62 Invisible Empire 

were wounded — among them Tyler, who, despite his wounds, 
made his escape from the building and hid in a friendly negro's 
shop. Also among the wounded was the firebrand Clopton, 
who, when it was found that he was not dead, was taken to the 
second-floor balcony and thrown into the street. He survived 
this maltreatment also, and he was then carried back into the 
courthouse and his throat cut, which finished him. 

Within fifteen minutes there were three hundred armed men 
in the streets of Meridian — citizens of the town, attracted by 
the firing, reinforced by some of the so-called Alabama Ku 
Klux. Tyler was finally discovered in his hiding place and 
killed. Moore was also sought, but managed to make his escape, 
although he was pursued for fifty miles down the railroad by a 
posse in a special train. The armed white men offered them- 
selves to the sheriff to act under his orders, but the sheriff seems 
to have lost control of the situation completely, and the citizens 
voluntarily divided themselves into groups and patrolled the 
streets throughout the afternoon and succeeding night. Three 
negroes who were arrested during the afternoon were taken 
from the custody of a deputy sheriff during the night and killed; 
and there was the wildest sort of disorder all night, with both 
whites and blacks in a state of the utmost alarm and fury. 

This particular 'Ku Klux outrage' was promptly investigated 
by the circuit judge of the district, Robert Leachman; and six 
white men were ordered held to answer before the grand jury 
at its next term and placed under bond. The grand jury, 
however, failed to find indictments against any of them; and 
that was the last of that. No white men, Ku Klux or otherwise, 
were punished — and Adam Kennard did not collect the 
five thousand dollars reward for the arrest and conviction of a 
Ku Klux. 

The climax of the Ku Klux troubles in Mississippi came with 
the famous trial in Oxford in 1871 under the Federal Ku Klux 
Act of 1 87 1. When Congress passed this law there was a tem- 

Mississippi 1 63 

porary lull in the activities of the Klan in Mississippi, there 
being apparently more fear of the Federal Government's power 
to suppress the organization than there was of the state. A 
prominent lawyer of luka, however, published an article in the 
luka Gazette, expressing the legal view that it would be very 
difficult to punish anybody under the Ku Klux law enacted by 
Congress, that it was a very defective act and would not reach 
the offenses it sought to correct. The opinion was also expressed 
in this article that the United States Government was exceeding 
its jurisdiction, and that it had no business interfering in the 
affairs of Mississippi or any other state. The effect of this article 
was to inspire the Ku Klux with new courage, and they began 
to operate again with renewed vigor. 

The Oxford trial was officially styled *The United States of 
America vs. W. D. Walton et al.' It was the first trial held in 
Mississippi under the Federal law, and was regarded as a test of 
the constitutionality of the act. It was also regarded as a 
test of the ability of the United States Government to cope 
with the Invisible Empire. There was a formidable array of 
legal talent on both sides, and a tremendous amount of in- 
terest developed throughout the whole country in the outcome 
of this battle in the little Mississippi courthouse. 

The prosecution of Walton et al. grew out of the mysterious 
murder of a negro named Aleck Page who lived in Monroe 
County. On the night of March 29, 1871, Page was taken from 
his home by a group of men dressed in the familiar garb of the 
Ku Klux Klan, was whipped and then hanged, and his body 
buried in a shallow grave, where it was later found by searchers. 

As a result of this outrage the Federal grand jury of the 
northern district of Mississippi indicted W. D. Walton and 
twenty-seven other citizens of Monroe County, including four 
negroes — Michael Forshee, Ben Lumpkin, Burrill Willis and 
Jefferson Willis — and they were carried to Oxford to stand 
trial in the Federal Court there. 

164 Invisible Empire 

From the outset there were difficulties and complications in 
the conduct of the case. That Aleck Page was taken out and 
killed and that the deed was done in the night-time by masked 
men were indisputable facts, but beyond those facts there was 
an immediate divergence of opinion, and the evidence intro- 
duced was amazingly conflicting. The government's chief 
dependence was on the testimony of three negroes, Joe Davis, 
Henry Hatch and Fanny Page, the last of whom was the wife of 
the victim of the outrage and in the house when Aleck was taken 
out to his death. All the witnesses, however, had the fatal fault 
of knowing too much. 

Fanny Page testified that during the melee in the house, 
although the men were disguised, she not only recognized the 
six negroes (Davis and Hatch in addition to those indicted), 
but also recognized six white men whose names she gave. 
When asked to identify these white men when the prisoners 
were arraigned in court she was unable to do so, in her confu- 
sion pointing out the prosecuting attorney as one of the culprits. 
Testimony was introduced to show that at one time she had said 
she did not recognize any of those who Ku Kluxed her husband, 
and that at another time she said that all of those engaged in the 
affair were negroes. (Another negro who saw the body of 
marauders that night also stated that *It was niggers done it.') 
Fanny, immediately following the event, when asked if she 
recognized any of those engaged in it had said: 'La, no; you 
never see such things as they had on their heads! You couldn't 
tell whether they was women or men, and couldn't recognize 

Joe Davis also proved to be an unsatisfactory witness. He 
testified that he and Henry Hatch, the other negro who turned 
state's evidence, had been forced to join the Ku Klux by duress; 
but he testified further that the other negroes, among the 
defendants, had joined the Klan voluntarily and were regular 
members of the organization in good standing. Other witnesses 

Mississippi 165 

later swore that Joe had been heard to tell Mike Forshee that 
he had better tell lies, as he had done, and he would get clear; 
and also that he had told the other negro defendants that unless 
they swore they were Ku Klux they would never get home. 

Henry Hatch testified that he was with the raiding party and 
that he helped bury the body. His description of the disguises 
used, however, was entirely different from that given by Joe 
Davis. It was also testified that he had repeatedly stated in 
public that he had no idea of who killed Aleck Page and that he 
never saw a Ku Klux in his life. Hatch also had difficulty in 
identifying the prisoners whom he claimed to have seen taking 
part in the outrage on Page. 

The testimony of all three witnesses was full of contradictions 
and incongruities, not the least of which was their insistence 
that the white Ku Klux had solicited the membership of the 
negroes in their organization and had entrusted them with their 
bloody secrets. 

A particularly peculiar feature of the case was that there 
was never any satisfactory theory advanced as to just why Aleck 
Page should have been killed at all. The prosecution attempted 
to show that it was done because he was a Republican; but 
evidence was introduced to prove that he was in fact a Demo- 
crat and had frequently made Democratic political speeches. 
The defense undertook to charge that Joe Davis himself had a 
motive for the crime, due to some personal animosity for Page. 
Davis admitted that Page had *spoke some blackguard words' 
about his wife; but he protested that despite those blackguard 
words they had remained very close friends. It was also men- 
tioned that Page had insulted a white woman in the neighbor- 
hood, and that his punishment might have been on that ac- 
count. But none of these theories was very strongly supported. 

The prisoners were defended by some of the most prominent 
attorneys of Mississippi, including General Samuel J. Gholson, 
who was reputed to be the Grand Giant of the Ku Klux in Mon- 

1 66 Invisible Empire 

roe County, but who denied that distinction. The defense of the 
accused was the old reliable alibi. One was sick in bed with the 
asthma, and had two witnesses who swore they sat up with him 
all night; one succeeded in proving that he was so dead drunk on 
the night of the outrage that he was in a comatose condition 
from which he did not recover until the next day; another was 
sitting up with his sick sister. W. D. Walton was at home in bed, 
to which fact his wife testified. Incidentally, the wife of this 
defendant must have been a remarkably personable woman, as 
into the dry-as-dust record of the trial the official reporter inter- 
jected this strangely incongruous comment: 'The witness, who 
was really handsome and most elegantly attired, made the court 
and counsel a most profound curtsey, tapped her husband on 
the head with her fan as she passed out of court, saying in a 
cheerful, laughing, good-humored tone: "Good-bye, Billy," 
and left the court amid a round of applause.' 

The court heard all the testimony, pondered it judicially and 
admitted the prisoners to bail. This was the first step in the col- 
lapse of the government's case. Eventually everybody went 
scot free. Aleck Page was dead; everybody agreed to that. But 
all efforts to pierce the veil behind which the Invisible Empire 
operated were fruitless. 

An enterprising printer in Memphis published a steno- 
graphic report of the trial in pamphlet form. These pamphlets 
were sold for the purpose of raising funds for the defendants' 
attorneys' fees, and a considerable sum was collected in this way. 

The Oxford trial was a fiasco from the government's stand- 
point. One significant fact, however, was that before the trial 
the Ku Klux rode the country regularly two or three nights a 
week; after the Oxford trial, whether the defendants there ar- 
raigned were innocent or guilty, the Ku Klux rode no more in 
that section. 

By this time, however, the need for the corrective influence of 
the Ku Klux had about ended anyhow; and when the Congres- 

Mississippi 167 

sional Investigating Committee came to look into Mississippi 
affairs it was hard to find any 'Ku Klux outrages' of recent 
vintage. It was, in fact, hard for them to obtain any very 
reliable information of any kind. The Ku Klux Klan had died 
its natural death in Mississippi before the Congressional Com- 
mittee got there; and all that ensued was a threshing of old 
straw, a rattling of dry bones. 

Of all the more than six hundred arrests and indictments in 
Mississippi under both state and Federal Ku Klux laws, there 
was not a single jury conviction and no valid claim of the 
five thousand dollars reward dangled before the people by 
Governor Alcorn as a temptation to assist in the arrest and 
conviction of a Ku Klux. 




tox President Andrew Johnson appointed James Johnson, a 
highly respected Columbus lawyer, as governor of Georgia; and, 
assisted by the state's wartime chief executive, Joseph E. Brown, 
now turned RepubUcan, the new appointee conscientiously 
took up the task of restoring Georgia to the Union. He promptly 
issued a call for a state convention, which met in October and 
repealed the ordinance of secession, abolished slavery and took 
other steps looking to the readmission of the state. Governor 
Johnson, however, served for only a few months, and at the 
regular election held in November, 1865, he was succeeded by 
Charles J. Jenkins, an old-line Whig. 

Jenkins, although a staunch Union man, had equally firm 
convictions about the rights of the states; and in March, 1867, 
when Congress passed the Reconstruction Act over the Presi- 
dent's veto, Governor Jenkins applied to the Supreme Court of 
the United States for an injunction to prevent Secretary Stanton 
and Generals Grant and Pope from putting the act into effect in 
Georgia. This heroic gesture was fruitless, as the Court denied 
its jurisdiction; but Jenkins seemed sincerely determined to give 
the state an honest administration. In December, 1867, he 
refused to pay out forty thousand dollars of the state's money 
to cover the expenses of the rump constitutional convention 

Georgia 169 

being held in Atlanta; and for this flagrant act of defiant 
honesty he was removed from office in January by General 
Meade, who had succeeded Pope as commander of the Third 
Military District. The Secretary of State and the Comptroller 
were removed at the same time, Meade appointing army officers 
to their places; and thus, by a stroke of the pen, Georgia was 
reduced to a military government. 

There ensued the usual train of troubles and disorder common 
to the Southern States at that time. The carpetbaggers were 
swarming in and, together with the scalawags, soon were in con- 
trol of the state government, including the judiciary. The Loyal 
Leagues began to blossom in all their menacing, militant 
mystery; and unrest among the negroes rapidly increased. 
Mrs. Frances Butler Leigh in her Ten Tears on a Georgia Planta- 
tion tells of the ominous change in the demeanor of the negro 
servants after they began to fall under the influence of the 
League's teachings. They assumed, she said, an obnoxiously 
familiar air with their employers, treated the women with dis- 
respect, worked only when they felt so inclined and threw fear 
into the white people's hearts by their marching about with guns 
on their shoulders. Mrs. Leigh wrote that in those times she never 
slept without a pistol under her pillow, as did women on iso- 
lated plantations throughout the South. 

As a natural corollary of the growing terror, the Ku Klux 
Klan soon appeared in Georgia, as it had in other states. The 
native white citizens saw these menacing organizations led by 
unscrupulous white agitators, and in their helpless political 
condition they felt the futility of ordinary, lawful defensive 
measures. John B. Gordon, late general in the Confederate 
army, reflected the prevailing sentiment of the native popula- 
tion of his state — and of the South — when he told the Con- 
gressional Committee: 

'We, in Georgia, do not believe that we have been given 
proper credit for our honesty of purpose. We believe that if our 

1 70 Invisible Empire 

people had been trusted, as we thought they ought to have been 
trusted — if we had been treated in the same spirit which, as 
we thought, was manifested on the Federal side at Appomattox 
Court House — a spirit which implied that there had been a 
conflict of theories, an honest difference of opinion as to our 
rights under the general government — a difference upon 
which the South had adopted one construction and the North 
another, both parties having vindicated their sincerity upon 
the field in a contest which, now that it had been fought out, 
was to be forgotten — if this had been the spirit in which we 
had been treated, the alienation would have been cured. But to 
say to our people: "You are unworthy to vote; you can not hold 
office; we are unwilling to trust you; you are not honest men; 
your former slaves are better fitted to administer the laws than 
you are" — this sort of dealing with us has definitely alienated 
our people. The burning of Atlanta and all the devastation 
through Georgia never created a tithe of the animosity that has 
been created by this sort of treatment of our people.' 

General Gordon was commonly reputed to be the Grand 
Dragon of the Ku Klux in the state of Georgia, and there is every 
reason to believe that he was. When he was called upon to 
testify about the matter, however, he stated: 'I do not know any- 
thing about any Ku Klux organization, as the papers talk about 
it. I have never heard of anything of that sort except in the 
papers and by general report; but I do know that an organiza- 
tion did exist in Georgia at one time. I know that in 1868 I was 
approached and asked to attach myself to a secret organization 
in Georgia; I was approached by some of the best citizens of the 
state, some of the most peaceable, law-abiding men.' Rejoined 
this unnamed organization, he said, but he went on: *We never 
called it Ku Klux, and therefore I do not know anything about 
Ku Klux.' 

In making this equivocal statement. General Gordon ap- 
parently was merely using the protective device generally 

Georgia 1 7 1 

adopted by members of the organization, and it by no means 
follows that he was not in fact the leader of the Ku Klux move- 
ment in Georgia. Despite his equivocation, his further state- 
ment regarding the conditions rendering such a protective 
organization necessary (whether they called it the Ku Klux or 
not) is illuminating as representing the feeling of the people at 
that time: 

*The organization was simply a brotherhood of the property- 
holders, the peaceable, law-abiding citizens of the state, for 
self-protection. The instinct of self-protection prompted the 
organization — the sense of insecurity and danger, particularly 
in those neighborhoods where the negro population largely 
predominated. The reasons which prompted this organization 
were three or four. The first and main reason was the organiza- 
tion of the Union League, as they called it, about which we knew 
nothing more than this: That the negroes would desert the 
plantations and go off at night in large numbers, and on being 
asked where they had been would reply: "We have been to the 
muster," or "We have been to the lodge," or "We have been to 
the meeting." Those things were observed for a great length of 
time. We knew that the carpetbaggers, as the people of Georgia 
called those men who came from a distance and had no interest 
at all with us, who were unknown to us entirely, who from all 
that we could learn of them did not have any very exalted 
position at home — these men were organizing the colored 
people. We knew that, beyond all question. We knew of certain 
instances where great crimes had been committed; where over- 
seers had been driven from plantations and the negroes had 
asserted their right to hold the property for their own benefit. 
Apprehension took possession of the entire public mind of the 
state. Men in many instances were afraid to go away from their 
homes and leave their wives and children, for fear of outrage. 
Rapes were already being committed in the country. 

*There was this general organization of the black race on the 

172 Invisible Empire 

one hand, and the entire disorganization of the white race on 
the other hand. We were afraid to have a pubHc organization 
because we were afraid it would be construed at once, by the 
authorities at Washington, as an organization antagonistic to 
the government of the United States. It was therefore neces- 
sary, in order to protect our families from outrage and preserve 
our own lives, to have something that we could regard as a 
brotherhood — a combination of the best men of the country 
to act purely in self-defense, to repel the attack in case we should 
be attacked by these people. . . . You must remember that we 
were in a state of anarchy there for a long time. We had no law 
but drum-head courts-martial.' 

Describing the operations of his organization. General 
Gordon testified that the members did not wear disguises or 
ride about the country at night, and further stated that he did 
not believe that any crime had ever been committed by the 
organization, that *it was purely a peace police.' Denying that 
it had any political purpose, he said: 'While I am not going to 
state what my position was in that organization, I will say that 
I certainly would have known if there had been any such pur- 
pose' — a boast which might well be made by the Grand 
Dragon of the Realm of Georgia. 

The first public newspaper reference to the Ku Klux in 
Georgia was in an Atlanta paper in March, 1868, at which 
time, by a notable coincidence, one of the prominent people 
visiting in town was General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He, it 
was reported, was there for a few days attending to some in- 
surance matters. It seems safe to assume that the Ku Klux 
movement was launched in Georgia at about this time, and 
certainly the Ku Klux were in existence and took an active part 
in the state election that year in which General Gordon was the 
Democratic candidate for governor against a New York carpet- 
bagger named Rufus B. Bullock. Newspaper references to the 
Ku Klux began to appear with increasing frequency. Also, 

Georgia 1 73 

about this time, there began to appear in Georgia papers the 
gruesome Ku Klux notices with all their fearful threats; and 
objectionable carpetbaggers and scalawags began to receive 
threatening letters. 

The threats of violence, however,' were not all on one side. 
On April 2 there appeared in the Savannah papers a sinister, 
anonymous notice (generally attributed to Aaron Alpeoria 
Bradley, a notorious negro jail-bird from New York) which 

KKK and all BAD MEN of the city of Savannah 
who now threaten the lives of all the Leaders and Nomi- 
nees of the Republican Party, and the President and 
Members of the Union League of America: If you Strike a 
Blow, the Man or Men will be followed, and the house in 
which he or they take shelter will be burned to the ground. 


Members of the Union League 

For God, Life and Liberty!!! 

The state election in 1868 was bitterly contested and marked 
by all sorts of violence, oral and physical. An affair at this time 
which created a tremendous sensation in the North was the so- 
called 'Camilla riot.' This bloody affray grew out of a march of 
three hundred negroes from Albany to Camilla, with two 
Republican leaders at their head who were candidates in the 
election. The sheriff at Camilla was alarmed when he received 
word of the threatened visitation, and he mounted his horse and 
galloped out to meet the party of negroes a few miles from town. 
There he parleyed with the leaders, urging them to disband and 
disarm; but this effort was fruitless. The sheriff then rode back 
to Camilla post-haste and quickly gathered a posse which went 
out to meet the advancing negroes. When the two groups met 

174 Invisible Empire 

there was a spontaneous burst of firing on both sides; and when 
the smoke finally cleared away there were eight dead negroes on 
the ground and three times that many wounded. Only two of 
the whites were wounded, and none killed. This affair was pic- 
tured in the North as *a shocking massacre'; but a legislative 
committee investigated and reported that the white office- 
seekers who led the marching negroes were responsible for the 
whole trouble. 

It was under such turbulent conditions that the election was 
held, and when the votes were finally counted it was announced 
that Mr. Bullock had been elected, and he was sworn into office 
by General Meade. The Democrats raised a loud and an- 
guished cry of protest, claiming that Gordon had been shame- 
lessly counted out; but their protest was disregarded, and Bul- 
lock took his seat and started out on a career of unblushing cor- 
ruption and misrule, which was to end in his disgrace and flight 
from the state three years later. 

A controlling factor in piling up the Bullock vote was the well- 
oiled machinery of the Loyal League organization, by means of 
which the ignorant negroes were herded to the polls and voted 
in droves — all, of course, for the Republican ticket. A typical 
Loyal League leader was Thomas M. Allen, a negro preacher 
in Marietta, who combined politics with his religion as a pro- 
fession and was the head of the League there. Tn my county,' 
he testified pompously, 'the colored people come to me for 
instruction, and I give them the best instructions I could. I 
took the New York Tribune and other papers, and in that way 
I found out a good deal, and I told them whatever I thought 
was right' — including instructions as to how to vote. 

Following the election a Methodist minister from Vermont, 
disgusted at the sheep-like behavior of the newly enfranchised 
negroes, told Allen that in future elections 'You ought to count 
the negro voters and then take a bundle of tickets and throw 
them into the ballot box, and let the colored people stay at 

Georgia 1 75 

home and work.' Allen innocently asked why, and the white 
preacher said: 'Because they just vote as you tell them,' going 
on to say bitterly: 'You have just as much right to vote as that 
horse.' Allen was a simple, literal-minded fellow and he pro- 
tested at this: 'I don't think you tell the truth when you say that 
horse has as much right to vote as a man.' The Vermont man 
insisted: 'I can make that horse take a ticket and carry it up to 
the box and drop it there.' But Allen obstinately protested: 
*You can't do it; you might make a circus horse do it, but you 
can't make that horse do it.' 

With the Republican victory, the negroes became more un- 
manageable than ever, seeming to feel that there was no sort of 
restraint on their excesses. The conviction that the election had 
been stolen from their favorite son and illegally bestowed on an 
alien carpetbagger did not operate to soothe the already out- 
raged feelings of the native Georgians. It was a crowning blow, 
following three years of indignity. They had no respect for the 
state government forced on them; they resented the treatment 
accorded them; and, feeling a complete lack of confidence in 
the courts as a means of redressing their wrongs, they turned to 
the Ku Klux Klan as a means of taking care of themselves. 

The Klan now grew in numbers and in potency in Georgia; 
and at first, when it was under the control of men like Gordon, it 
was an effective check on unrestrained violence. Years after the 
Reconstruction was ended, John Calvin Reed wrote an article 
in Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus Magazine in which he 
admitted that he was the Grand Giant of the Ku Klux in Ogle- 
thorpe County, and that the chief of its operations in that part 
of the state was Dudley M. Du Bose, son-in-law of Robert 
Toombs. Mr. Reed described the Klan as 'an underground and 
nocturnal constabulary — detective, interclusive, interceptive, 
repressive, preventive and, in the main, punitive only now and 
then.' So the work of the 'underground and nocturnal con- 
stabulary' went on. Its punitive measures, even 'now and then,' 

176 Invisible Empire 

attracted the attention of General Howard, and in his report 
for the year 1868 he mentioned that 'Numerous outrages have 
been perpetrated upon freed people in this state, some of them 
remarkable for atrocity,' but nothing was done about it at that 

In June, 1869, a complaint of outrages in Georgia was re- 
ferred to General A. H. Terry, in command of the Department 
of the South, and in his report made August 14, 1869, General 
Terry said: *In many parts of the state there is practically no 
government. The worst of crimes are committed and no 
attempt is made to punish those who commit them. Murders 
have been and are frequent; the abuse in various ways of the 
blacks is too common to excite notice. There can be no doubt of 
the existence of numerous insurrectionary organizations known 
as Ku Klux Klans who, shielded by their disguises, by the 
secrecy of their movements, and by the terror which they in- 
spire, perpetrate crime with impunity.' 

Then, being a military man and a firm believer in the supreme 
potency of martial law, he went on adroitly to say: 'There is 
great reason to believe that in some cases local magistrates are 
in sympathy with the members of this organization. In many 
places they are over-awed by them and dare not attempt to 
punish them. To punish such offenders by civil proceedings 
would be a difficult task, even were magistrates in all cases 
disposed and had they the courage to do their duty, for the same 
influences which govern them equally affect juries and wit- 

It took some time for this leaven to work, but General Terry 
finally was successful in achieving the substitution of military 
for civil law in Georgia, even though it was not until several 
months after he first suggested it. Georgia's stout fight in the 
state election in 1868 had already put her under suspicion, and 
it was the last straw when in November of that year she had the 
effrontery to cast a big popular majority vote for the presi- 

Georgia 177 

dential electors who favored the Democratic nominees, Sey- 
mour and Blair. This was an unpardonable offense, and when 
the House and Senate convened in Washington to count the 
electoral votes in February, 1869, Senator Wade brazenly 
announced that he was instructed by his party to receive the 
vote of Georgia if it did not change the result but to reject it if 
it did. 

President Grant in his message to Congress in December, 
1869, suggested that something ought to be done in regard to 
Georgia; and Congress obediently passed an act immediately 
which gave the mihtary officers, under Grant, authority to 
remodel the Georgia legislature and authorized the President 
to give aid to the governor of the state 'to prevent disturbances.' 
Promptly following the passage of this act, the state legislature 
was manipulated and remolded nearer to the Radicals' desire 
by the most high-handed and arbitrary exclusion of Democrats 
who had been elected and the substitution in their places of 
negroes and carpetbaggers who had been defeated. Comfort- 
able Radical majorities having been assured by this shameless 
procedure, the legislature lost no time in launching on an orgy 
of partisan legislation, featured by bribery and corruption, 
which soon reduced the state to the verge of bankruptcy. 

Worst of all, a program of virtual military rule was put into 
effect without any formal declaration of martial law; and, 
without any previous warning, the soldiers began to arrest 
citizens and throw them into prison without warrant and with- 
out disclosing any charge. The only authority for such a seizure 
of power by the military forces was embodied in a telegram sent 
to General Terry on January 12, 1870, by General W. T. 
Sherman, in response to Terry's appeal for more power. Sher- 
man's message said: T will sustain you in the exercise of any 
authority that will maintain substantial good order until the 
state of Georgia is recognized by the Executive and by Congress. 
Even then some lawful means will be found whereby we can 

178 Invisible Empire 

defend our own friends from the Ku Klux. . . . You, personally, 
are vested with executive authority over governor and legisla- 
ture until the state is fully admitted.' This was all the authority 
Terry required, and he proceeded to crack down on the citizens 
of Georgia with all the zeal of a military despot. This arbitrary 
imposition of military rule on a sovereign state so outraged 
Representative Beck of Kentucky that he declared that Presi- 
dent Grant and General Terry were 'the original Ku Klux in 
Georgia,' going on to say that it was apparently the popular 
inclination in the North at that time to feel 'that whatever the 
President and General Terry did was right and that whoever 
opposed them were Ku Klux and scoundrels.' But, Mr. Beck 
continued: T hold that whoever in time of peace arrests a 
citizen in violation of the Constitution, without any charge 
against him, and puts him in jail is himself a violator of the 

In at least one instance, however, the Ku Klux were able to 
give General Terry a Roland for his Oliver. It had been an- 
nounced that whenever his forces made an arrest a writ of 
habeas corpus would not be recognized; but sometimes the Ku 
Klux had a way of enforcing their own habeas corpus proceed- 
ings — they would find a way to 'have the body,' even though 
they could not get a legal writ. A detachment of United States 
troops under command of a lieutenant went to Rome in Jan- 
uary, 1870; and there, without warrant and without revealing 
to the victim the charge against him, they went in the night 
to the home of a man named Ethridge, took him from his bed 
and lodged him in the county jail as a military prisoner. Habeas 
corpus proceedings were denied, and all that Ethridge could 
learn was that in due season he would be apprised of the charge 
against him and given a military trial. 

The next night a large body of masked Ku Klux rode up to 
the home in Rome of the judge of the circuit court. Judge 
Kir by, and told him that he must go to the jail and persuade 

Georgia 1 79 

the commander of the troops to release Ethridge, that they had 
two hundred and fifty men in their party and would kill him 
if he refused to do as they demanded. Judge Kirby protested, 
but they insisted, so at last Kirby and the Ku Klux leader went 
to the jail and woke up the lieutenant, and the judge urged him 
to release the prisoner to the Ku Klux. The lieutenant voiced 
his objection to such an irregular proceeding, but Kirby told 
him that his little detachment of soldiers was hopelessly out- 
numbered by the Ku Klux and that they would take Ethridge 
out of the jail by force if he were not surrendered peacefully. 
The lieutenant admitted the cogency of this argument, but 
suggested that he be permitted to go out and inspect the as- 
sembled Ku Klux forces for himself to make sure that he really 
was outnumbered. This request was accepted as a reasonable 
one, and he was courteously escorted out to the woods where 
the Ku Klux band was waiting at ease. After looking them 
over, he was convinced and went back to the jail and unlocked 
Ethridge's cell, the Ku Klux leader assuring the lieutenant that 
the man would be available to answer any civil proceeding. 

Floyd County, of which Rome was the county seat, was 
immediately adjacent to the Alabama line, and was a center of 
Ku Klux activity from the time of the first appearance of the 
order in Georgia. When the superior court of the county met 
in Rome in January, 1871, the grand jury for the first week 
made a report in which it deplored the activities of 'secret, dis- 
guised parties of men, going about over the county at night for 
the supposed purpose of correcting existing evils in the commu- 
nity.' After pointing out the dangerous nature of such activities, 
the report went on: 'Even supposing their intentions to be good, 
their secrecy and disguise open the way for wicked and malicious 
persons to band themselves together for purposes of theft, 
plunder, violence and bloodshed, and thus the harm growing 
out of their organization outweighs the good they propose to 
accomplish We feel it our duty as grand jurors to condemn 

i8o Invisible Empire 

in unqualified terms all such organizations, and urgently call 
upon all good citizens to discourage, discountenance and frown 
down all such, and use their influence to banish them from 
among us. And we even go so far as to recommend any person 
or persons, if any there be in our county, who may belong to 
such secret bands to abandon them at once and throw their 
influence in favor of vindicating and enforcing the laws.' 

This report was denounced by the newspapers of Rome as an 
unjust indictment of the whole county which would place the 
citizens of the county in a false light, and one of the papers pre- 
dicted that it would probably be used by Governor Bullock *in 
his manipulation of the affairs of the state' and by the Radical 
element of Congress to the detriment of Georgia. The two 
succeeding grand juries, perhaps influenced by the newspapers' 
protests, made reports denying the existence in the county of 
any organized forces for law-breaking; but meanwhile Gov- 
ernor Bullock had indeed acted as was predicted by the 
Rome editor, and on February 15, 187 1, he issued a proclama- 
tion calling attention to the misdeeds of 'a band of disguised 
men' in Floyd County, and offering rewards aggregating 
sixteen thousand dollars for the arrest and conviction of the 
persons engaged in the alleged outrages enumerated. 

This offering of such an excessive reward for supposititious 
offenses was denounced by the Floyd County press as an offense 
'as outrageous as are the acts of any Ku Klux that ever plied the 
lash or sounded a whistle,' and the Governor was urged to with- 
draw his proclamation. But Bullock paid no attention to that 
suggestion. By that time he and his political associates, carpet- 
baggers and scalawags, were getting into hot water at every 

A typical office-holder of the period was the sheriff* of Warren 
County, an ignorant scalawag of lowly origin named 'Chap' 
Norris, who had been a shoemaker before the war. Through 
one subterfuge or another he had managed to stay out of the 

Georgia i8i 

Confederate army; and after the end of the war took up politics 
as a profession, embraced the Radical cause and soon found 
himself sheriff of the county, which proved to be much more 
pleasant and lucrative employment than he had found at the 
cobbler's bench. 

The Ku Klux were well organized in Warren County; and, 
although the results of their work were plain to be seen, they 
managed to escape detection. The editor of the local paper, the 
Warrenton Clipper, was Charles Wallace, who was also generally 
understood to be the Cyclops of the Warrenton Den of the Klan. 
Mr. Wallace became involved in a personal controversy with 
another resident of Warrenton, Doctor G. W. Darden, growing 
out of Wallace's belief that Darden had blackballed him when 
he applied for membership in the Masonic lodge. Wallace 
published a card in his paper denouncing Doctor Darden in the 
most violent terms; and Darden, his honor offended, waylaid 
Wallace on the street in Warrenton and murdered him with a 
blast from a double-barreled shotgun. 

This murder created the most intense indignation among 
Wallace's friends; but no move to arrest Darden was made by 
the terrified sheriff. Later in the day, however, as murmurs of 
possible retaliation spread through the town, Darden's wife 
accompanied him to the jail and persuaded the sheriff to lock 
him up for his own protection, having done which Sheriff 
Norris hastily left town to avoid having any part in the trouble 
he feared was impending. 

As was related in the Clipper's subsequent account of the 
affair, 'By nine or ten o'clock of that night a number of mysteri- 
ous beings entered the town from different directions and sought 
for the keys to the jail. The Radical sheriff of the county 
having left that night for parts unknown, carrying the keys 
with him, they commenced breaking down the doors of the jail. 
About two o'clock in the morning Dr. Darden was taken out 
and, after giving him time to write to his family, he was taken 

1 82 Invisible Empire 

near the railroad and shot. Who the avengers were, where they 
came from, or how they left, nobody knows.' 

The coroner's jury found that Doctor Darden had come to 
his death by gunshot wounds at the hands of persons unknown 
to the jury — and, while they may have been unknown to the 
jury, there was pretty general understanding among the citizens 
of Warrenton that the act was one of vengeance on the part of 
Wallace's fellow-Klansmen. 

Sheriff Norris's flight carried him to Atlanta, whence he re- 
turned to Warrenton with a squad of soldiers who arrested 
five men whom the sheriff charged with being members of the 
Ku Klux band who took Darden out of the jail and killed him. 
These men were released under bail at length; but meanwhile, 
according to Norris's story later, representatives of the arrested 
men approached him and proposed to him that he refrain from 
pushing the matter, as it would cause trouble in the whole com- 
munity. The Governor had offered a reward of five thousand 
dollars for each convicted Ku Klux, and Norris was anxious to 
collect the twenty-five thousand dollars if possible; but he finally 
accepted, by way of compromise, a promissory note for five 
thousand dollars signed by some responsible local men, in re- 
turn for which he promised to stop the prosecutions and leave 
town — which he did not do. Norris was subsequently in- 
dicted for accepting a bribe and was also prosecuted by all the 
arrested Ku Klux on the charge of false imprisonment; so he 
was eventually glad to drop the whole matter, although his 
political crony. Governor Bullock, had considerately provided 
him in advance with a pardon to be used in the remote con- 
tingency of his conviction. Sheriff Norris was very much 
upset by the suggestion of moral turpitude in connection with 
his acceptance of the five thousand dollars note. He had a 
duplex defense: In the first place it wasn't a bribe; and, any- 
how, some of the army officers at Warrenton had taken bigger 
bribes than he did. 

Georgia 1 83 

Bullock thoroughly and effectively capitalized the killing of 
Darden, and all other Ku Klux manifestations, and flooded 
the North with all sorts of exaggerated stories of the reign of 
terror alleged to prevail in Georgia. This use of reports of so- 
called 'Ku Klux outrages' for the purpose of alarming and 
inflaming the North, thereby providing sentiment to back up 
the Radical regulaJ;ory laws, became so flagrant that during 
the 1870 campaign the Atlanta Constitution, in sarcastic vein, 
printed this card: 


Wanted, a liberal supply of Ku Klux outrages in Georgia. 
They may be as ferocious and bloodthirsty as possible. No 
regard need be paid to the truth. Parties furnishing 
must be precise and circumstantial. They must be supplied 
during the next ten days, to influence the Georgia bill 
in the House. Accounts of Democrats giving the devil 
to Republicans are preferred. A hash of negroes mur- 
dered by the Ku Klux will be acceptable. A deuce of 
bobbery is necessary. Raw head and bloody bones, in 
every style, can be served up to profit. 

The highest price paid. Apply to R. B. Bullock, or the 
Slander Mill, Atlanta, Ga., and to Forney's Chronicle, 
Benjamin F. Butler, or to the Reconstruction Commit- 
tee, Washington, D.G. 

Georgia Railroad Bonds traded for this commodity. 

The 'Slander Mill' was used as a synonym for the State 
Capitol. The reference to the Georgia railroad bonds was an 
allusion to the current rumor that a large issue of such bonds 
was being used in a corrupt effort to influence votes. 

To a great extent this great flood of outrage propaganda was 
designed by Bullock as a smoke screen to obscure the visibility 

184 Invisible Empire 

of the corruption of his own administration, and also to bolster 
up the Republican cause in the 1870 elections for members of 
Congress and the state legislature; but, despite the most that 
Bullock could do, the Democrats carried this election over- 
whelmingly. Under Georgia's laws, however, the new Con- 
servative legislature would not convene until November, 1871. 
This left Bullock nearly an entire year for the pursuit of plunder, 
which he improved to the greatest possible extent; and then, the 
day before the legislature was to convene, he resigned his office 
and fled the state in time to prevent his impeachment by the 
incoming legislators. 

Meanwhile Congress had passed the Ku Klux Law, and the 
Congressional Committee had launched its investigation of Ku 
Klux affairs in Georgia. Henry W. Grady, who was later to 
achieve some degree of eminence in Georgia and throughout 
the nation for his oratory, was at that time the youthful editor of 
the Rome Southerner and Commercial, and was openly suspected of 
active connection with the Ku Klux Klan. When the Com- 
mittee began its investigation in Georgia, Grady did not hesitate 
to pronounce it a political maneuver, and offered the following 
advice in an editorial headed 'The Ku Klux Klan' : 

*The Commercial, as a guardian of the good of the public, 
appeals to those of its friends who have any connection whatever 
with secret organizations to remain perfectly quiet and orderly, 
for the present at any rate. Let there be no suspicion of disorder 
or lawlessness; let there be no parading of disguised men, no 
stopping of innocent men and forcing them to dance; this is all 
child's play and foolishness.' And, further: 'The eyes of the 
continent are on us. . . . Then let us be quiet and bide our time; 
a passion chained down is a more fearsome and a nobler thing 
than a passion gratified. . . . Remember, brothers, that the 
strength and power of any secret organization rests in the attri- 
bute of mystery and hidden force, and in the fact that upon the 
thousand hills of our country a legion of brave hearts that are 

Georgia 185 

throbbing quietly can be called together by a tiny signal, and 
when the work is done can melt away into shadowy nothing. 
Every time you act you weaken your strength; then be quiet.' 

Although this outburst of rhetoric seemed to indicate that 
Mr. Grady knew something about Ku Klux affairs he was not, 
strangely enough, called before the committee. B. F. Sawyer, 
the editor of the other Rome paper, the Courier, however, was 
summoned to Atlanta to testify; and when he received his sum- 
mons he published an item in his paper in which he derided 
the Committee, stating that 'the Spanish Inquisition was not 
more disgraceful and dangerous than this rotten concern.' 
Referring to his own pending appearance before the Commit- 
tee, he said in sarcastic tone: 'They will be very apt to worm all 
the secrets of the Ku Klux out of him.' The august Committee 
had its dignity offended by this derisive item, and when Sawyer 
appeared they demanded to know what he meant by his refer- 
ence to their worming the secrets of the order out of him. He 
apologetically explained that it was merely a 'pleasantry,' and 
that 'the idea intended to be conveyed was that if your commit- 
tee was to trouble themselves to shear a pig they would get but 
little wool.' 

Apparently the Committee members did shear a great 
number of pigs; certainly their expedition resulted in a very 
small production of wool. There was a stream of witnesses 
hailed before them in Washington and in Atlanta, most of them 
Radicals and a very large proportion of them illiterate negroes 
of the lowest mentality. While they were holding their sessions 
in Atlanta in November the state senate of Georgia was also 
meeting there, and they adopted resolutions stating that 'it has 
been alleged by certain politicians. North and South, who 
esteem the success of the party to which they belong and the 
accomplishment of their political purposes more highly than 
the peace, happiness and prosperity of the country, that there 
exists in this state and other Southern States certain lawless 

1 86 Invisible Empire 

bands of persons commonly called Ku Klux who are banded 
together for political purposes and are in the habit of commit- 
ting great outrages upon the peaceable and law-abiding citi- 
zens of the country and that the state courts fail and refuse to 
afford sufficient redress,' but that they were satisfied that no 
such political organization existed in Georgia. The resolution 
sharply attacked the credibility of a number of the witnesses 
then being examined, and urged that all the judges of the 
superior courts of Georgia be summoned before the committee 
as a more effective means of arriving at the facts regarded law- 
breaking in the state. The Congressional Committee paid no 
attention to this suggestion. It continued to shear its pigs, and 
eventually wound up its hearings and went back to Washing- 
ton. Meanwhile the Ku Klux Klan, which was being so in- 
dustriously investigated, was quietly dissolving, in Georgia and 
elsewhere, and fading out of existence. 

When General Gordon testified before the Committee 
in 1 87 1 he stated that at that time he did not believe that any 
such organization existed or had existed for a long time, that he 
had not heard of it for two years. As to the reason for its passing 
away, he explained: *Well, sir, it just dissolved, because the 
courts became generally established; and though the courts 
were in the hands of the opposition party our people believed 
they were trying to do justice, that a general protection was 
extended over us. Our people thought that we could get 
justice at the hands of these judges. Though they were of the 
opposing party and though negroes were on the juries, we were 
satisfied that in the existing condition of things we were safe.' 
Lieutenant George S. Hoyt of the United States Army, who was 
stationed in Georgia with the army of occupation, stated that 
although there had been a general, state organization of the Ku 
Klux in 1868, it was his understanding that later the state organ- 
ization was broken up and that the later disturbances were attrib- 
utable to 'a sort of local organization, not connected together.' 

Georgia 187 

/ Certainly by the end of 187 1 the better element of people in 
Georgia seemed to be convinced that the Ku Klux were 
degenerating into an instrumentality of outlawry which was 
bringing odium on the whole section, and there began to be 
demands for its stamping out. The Augusta Constitutionalist 
published a strong editorial in which it was urged that steps be 
taken to bring to an end the Ku Klux activities in the state. 
^Exceptional cases have arisen,' they said, *and may arise 
again, in the Southern States since the close of the war, under 
the despotic rule of the bayonet and under the corrupt govern- 
ment of carpetbaggers' where it became 'almost a virtue to meet 
despotism and connivance with crime with swift retribution. 
If there was any mistake made in such Ku Kluxism it was in 
not striking high enough.' But it went on to show how mob 
law soon exceeds all restraint, and concluded: 'It is about time 
that the communities in which the operation of the Ku Kluxers 
have taken place should speak out and call on these secret 
champions of society to unmask. It is time their faces should be 
scrutinized and their credentials examined. ... It is time the 
community should in public meetings and through the public 
press declare its true sentiments. There has been too long a 
reprehensible silence on this subject. In the absence of the voice 
of protest it has been assumed that these secret organizations 
possessed the sympathy and approbation of society. ... If the 
citizens of Georgia do not through their own grand juries and 
through their own courts of justice take cognizance of the in- 
fractions of its laws and the violations of the rights of property, 
persons and life of its own citizens, white and black, they can 
with but poor grace raise a clamor against the unconstitutional 
Ku Kluxism of the Congress of the United States, which has 
authorized the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus 

and to send Federal troops to preserve order There is but 

one way to escape such results. It is for the people of Georgia 
in the several counties which have reason to fear Federal inter- 

1 88 Invisible Empire 

ference to rise up and by their conduct show that they are 
capable of protecting the lives of their own citizens and to bring 
to punishment those who defy the laws of the state. The legis- 
lature should speak out, by joint resolutions, condemning in 
the strongest language secret organizations and midnight mobs, 
and exhort the people to bring to bear every legal and moral 
influence for the vindication of the peace, good order and dig- 
nity of the state. We have no longer an executive who will in- 
discriminately pardon criminals, and there is good reason now 
to hope that the decrees of our tribunals of criminal justice will 
be respected and enforced.' 

This editorial was reproduced in the Savannah News and 
other Georgia papers, and fairly represented the feelings of the 
people at that time. Particularly significant was the reference 
to the change in the state government which promised greater 
security. This was the kernel of the whole thing. The govern- 
ment of the state was now back in the hands of the people; 
there was no longer any necessity for a secret band of regulators; 
and the Ku Klux Klan quickly withered away in the light of 
the changed conditions. 

The story of the development and decline of the Klan in 
Georgia was authoritatively epitomized by John G. Reed in his 
'The Brothers' War,' published in 1905, when he said: Tt is 
high time that the Ku Klux be understood. When in 1867 it 
was strenuously attempted to give rule to scalawags and negroes, 
the very best of the South led the unanimous revolt. Their first 
taste of political power incited the negroes to license and riot, 
imperiling every condition of decent life. In the twinkling of 
an eye the Ku Klux organized. It mustered, not assassins, 
thugs, and cut-throats, as has been often alleged, but the 
choicest Southern manhood. Every good woman knew that 
the order was now the solitary defense of her purity, and she 
consecrated it with all-availing prayers. In Georgia we won 
the election of December, 1870, in the teeth of gigantic odds. 

Georgia 1 89 

This decisive deliverance from the most monstrous and horrible 
misrule recorded among Anglo-Saxons was the achievement 
of the Ku Klux. Its high mission performed, the Klan, burning 
its disguises, rituals, and other belongings, disbanded two or 
three months later. Its reputation is not to be sullied by what 
masked men — bogus Ku Klux as we, the genuine, called them 
— did afterwards.' And, to leave no possible misunderstanding 
as to how he felt about it, Mr. Reed concluded his passing 
reference to the Klan by saying: 'I shall always remember with 
pride my service in the famous 8th Georgia Volunteers. . . . 
But I am prouder of my career in the Ku Klux Klan.' 


lossiBLY ON ACCOUNT of its geographical nearness to 
Washington, the activities of the Ku Klux in North CaroHna 
appear to have attracted more attention at the seat of the 
Federal Government than those in any other Realm of the 
Invisible Empire; and it was, in fact, directly as a result of 
the terrifying reports of depredations and bloody disorders in 
North Carolina that President Grant in 1871 launched the 
general congressional investigation into conditions 'in the late 
insurrectionary states.' 

Up to that time, affairs in the Old North State had followed 
the usual pattern of the period. One of the first steps in the 
reconstruction of the state immediately after the war was the 
forcible ousting of Zebulon B. Vance from the Governor's 
office to which he had been elected, and the appointment in 
his place as provisional Governor of W. W. Holden. Holden, 
a native North Carolinian, was a man of considerable native 
ability; but he was an opportunist in politics, apparently devoid 
of fixed principles. Before the war he had been originally a 
Whig, but flopped more or less gracefully to the Democrats 
when given a job as editor of a Democratic paper. For years 
he was an avowed apostle of secession, then suddenly switched 
in 1858 to the pro-Union side; but he opposed Lincoln's call 
for troops to hold the Union together and voted for the seces- 

North Carolina igi 

sion ordinance. During the course of the war he broke out in 
an attack on the Confederate Government in 1863 and urged 
an immediate peace. After the close of the war he first espoused 
Andrew Johnson's principles, then turned against Johnson and 
became head of the Loyal League in North Carolina, the 
League reaching a membership of eighty thousand in the state 
under his guidance. 

In the gubernatorial election held in 1866 Holden was de- 
feated by Jonathan Worth, an old-time Whig and staunch 
Union man of conservative traits. With the aid of his eighty 
thousand enfranchised Loyal Leaguers, however, and backed 
by military force, Holden was elected governor on the Radical 
ticket in 1868; and he subjected the state to three years of mis- 
rule and oppression until he was impeached in 1871. 

The circumstances leading up to the organization of the 
Ku Klux movement in North Carolina were parallel with 
those in other Southern States at the time. The negroes were 
organizing in their Loyal Leagues and drilling at night, station- 
ing their sentinels on the highways, halting white people on 
the roads and causing them to pass around the meeting places. 
There was no explanation of all this martial activity on the 
part of the recent slaves, and the white population was mystified 
and alarmed. The general air of uneasiness was accentuated 
by the unscrupulous white agitators who were, for political 
purposes, telling the negroes that the white people were their 
enemies and were planning to put them back into slavery. 
In League meetings the negroes were repeatedly told the 
pleasant myth that the white men's farms were to be seized 
and divided up among the freedmen and each negro given his 
forty acres and a horse or mule; but, worse than that, the in- 
flaming addresses they heard at these meetings frequently 
provoked them to a rage which led to riot and bloodshed. 

During the session of the state legislature in 1868 an address 
was issued by that deHberative body to the native people of 

192 Invisible Empire 

North Carolina, written by Senator Pool and signed by ninety 
Radical members, in which the white citizens were sharply 
harangued as to their duty to the freedmen and threatened 
with broad suggestions of what the negroes might do to them. 

*Did it ever occur to you, ye gentlemen of property,' this 
incendiary document said, 'To you, ye men — and especially 
ye women — who never received anything from these colored 
people but services, kindness and protection; did it ever occur 
to you that these same people, who are so very bad, will not be 
willing to sleep in the cold when your houses are denied them, 
merely because they will not vote as you do; that they may not 
be willing to starve while they are willing to work for bread? 
Did it never occur to you that revenge, which is so sweet to you, 
may be as sweet to them? Hear us, if nothing else you will 
hear, did it never occur to you that if you kill their children 
with hunger they will kill your children with fear? Did it 
never occur to you that if you, good people, maliciously de- 
termine that they shall not have shelter, they may determine 
that you shall have no shelter?' And so on. 

The result of a succession of things like this was to create a 
feeling of genuine terror on the part of the white people, which 
was intensified as the negroes and Radicals gained power. 
Even as late as the spring of 1871 the citizens of the counties 
of Gaston, Rutherford and Cleveland, on the southern border 
of the state, were living in fear of a raid from the negroes of 
South Carolina, where there had been fatal clashes between 
the races; and the North Carolinians for several days and 
nights maintained an armed guard over their towns, making 
ready to defend themselves if necessary. 

Just exactly when the Ku Klux Klan was first introduced 
into North Carolina is not entirely clear, but it seems not to 
have been noticeably active there until some time in 1868; 
and there was testimony to the effect that it was introduced 
into the state from some of the adjoining counties in South 

North Carolina 193 

Carolina rather than directly from Tennessee. On the other 
hand, General Forrest was in North Carolina in the early part 
of 1868; and in those days when General Forrest appeared it 
was generally found that he had sowed the dragon's teeth of 
Ku Kluxism. Further testimony regarding Forrest's connection 
with the North Carolina Ku Klux is provided by General 
Homer Atkinson, still hving in Virginia, who states that he 
was Hving in New York in 1868 and that he there received a 
letter from General Forrest requesting him to go to North 
Carolina and help organize the Klan there, which he did. 
Certain it is that the Ku Klux organization was an authentic 
offshoot of the original mother Klan, for the terminology was 
the same and, furthermore, the flag of the Ku Klux of Cabarrus 
County, now preserved in a Richmond museum, is exactly as 
described in the Original Prescript of the order. 

Early in 1868 there had spontaneously sprung into existence 
in North Carolina organizations known as the White Brother- 
hood and the Constitutional Union Guards, not to mention 
local groups of regulators without formal organization or title. 
These appear to have been merged into the Ku Klux Klan 
during the latter part of 1868, and after that date all disorders 
charged to disguised groups of men were generally tagged 
*Ku Klux.' It appears that *The Invisible Empire' was a name 
generally used in North Carolina at that time as being synony- 
mous with the Ku Klux Klan. Judge Tourgee was of the 
opinion that 'The Invisible Empire' was some sort of a higher 
degree of the Ku Klux; and at the time there seemed to be no 
popular understanding of the fact that 'The Invisible Empire' 
was merely the term used within the Ku Klux organization 
itself in referring to the entire territory covered by its operations. 
John B. Harrill, a confessed member of the organization in 
North Carolina, testified that the name 'Invisible Empire' was 
used so that if they were ever called on to testify in court they 
could swear that they 'never belonged to the Ku Klux, that 

194 Invisible Empire 

they never knew a Ku Klux, or anything in that way.' A 
similar statement was made by an Arkansas member regarding 
the use of names. 

David Schenck, an admitted member of the Invisible Empire, 
although stoutly denying any connection with or knowledge of 
the Ku Klux Klan, gave a description of the signs, passwords 
and oath of the Invisible Empire, which corresponded exactly 
with the signs testified to by members of the Ku Klux Klan 
in North Carolina and elsewhere. It is also significant that the 
sign of distress, the word 'Avalanche,' was the same as was 
used by admitted Ku Klux elsewhere in North Carolina and 
in other parts of the South. 

There seems to be no doubt that the Ku Klux Klan when it 
> was originally formed in North Carolina was in the hands of 
([^ men of the very highest standing in the state. Ex-Governor 
Zebulon B. Vance was generally supposed to be the Grand 
Dragon of the Realm; and the testimony of some of the confessed 
Ku Klux was to the effect that within the Klan Vance was gen- 
erally looked upon as the chief of the state. Hamilton C. Jones 
of Raleigh, a prominent and highly regarded man of that time, 
was also understood to be high in the Klan's affairs, probably 
second- only to Vance. Among others known to be prominent 
in the Ku Klux work in the state was Colonel LeRoy McAfee, 
who served as a Grand Titan in western North Carolina, and 
who was among the first to take steps to disband the Klan when 
it began to drift into excesses. Colonel McAfee was the uncle 
of Thomas Dixon, Jr., whose best-seller novel The Clansman 
was dedicated to him, Mr. Dixon stating that the book was 
founded largely on information supplied him by the ex-Titan. 
The Clansman told the story of the Ku Klux in a sympathetic 
and powerfully appealing manner which thrilled hundreds of 
thousands of readers, not to mention the millions who saw it 
on the screen as The Birth of a Nation. An earlier, highly colored 
account of the Ku Klux times in North Carolina, from the 


North Carolina 195 

opposite viewpoint, is contained in a book entitled A FooVs 
Errand — by One of the Fools, written by Albion W. Tourgee in 
the early eighties. Tourgee was a carpetbagger, an ex-officer 
in Sherman's army, who settled in Alamance County after the 
war. He fraternized freely with the negroes, made speeches at 
their meetings, and on the rising tide of Radicalism (assisted 
by a bit of special legislation) he was swept into a position as a 
judge of the circuit court, although at the time he did not even 
pretend to be a lawyer and had no license to practice law. 
Judge Tourgee's book, along with two or three others of similar 
nature, enjoyed wide popularity at the time. This was the 
first widely circulated account of the purported acts of the 
notorious and mysterious Ku Klux Klan, and Tourgee had 
sufficient Uterary skill to make his story a readable one, even 
if all the members of the Loyal League were dusky models of 
nobility and uprightness and all the Ku Klux and their friends 
perfect examples of unadulterated wickedness and debasement. 
The hero, a wise and noble resident of North Carolina recently 
removed there from a Northern state, was generally supposed 
to be a thinly disguised autobiographical picture of the author. 
Despite its great popularity at the time, however, the modem 
reader who accepts Judge Tourgee's book as telling an unbiased 
story of Reconstruction days in North Carolina will get a 
highly distorted picture of those times. In North Carolina, as 
elsewhere, the Loyal Leagues were generally regarded by the 
whites as dangerous hotbeds of hostility, and there was plenty 
of evidence to support this theory. During 1869 there was an 
epidemic of barn-burnings in several of the counties of the 
state, with evidence to show that these burnings were part of a 
systematic plan on the part of organizations of negroes who 
met and planned such programs of arson. In one county they 
burned eight in one night; and the native white farmers were 
in a state bordering on terror, aside from the pecuniary losses 
involved. Some of the offenders in Gaston County were detected 

igS Invisible Empire 

and arrested, and they confessed not only that the Loyal League 
in that county was sponsoring the incendiarism there but that 
they were acting on orders received from the head of the League 
in Raleigh. 

In Wake County they burned all the barns along the Cape 
Fear River in a systematic manner; and when a farmer named 
Mimms ran out and tried to extinguish his burning barn he 
was shot by the incendiaries. It was the understanding of the 
citizens that the negroes were meeting and planning these 
burnings at a rendezvous in a country schoolhouse, and a party 
of Ku Klux raided the schoolhouse one night while a meeting 
was in progress. The negroes had warning of their coming and 
fled in time to escape; but the raiders caught a white man 
named Dicken, who was accused of aiding and abetting the 
negroes, and as an act of poetic justice he was compelled to 
apply the torch to the schoolhouse where the meetings had 
been held. 

It is significant of the turbulence of the times and the distorted 
standards prevailing that one witness, after testifying to a series 
of barn-burnings by an organization of negroes, was asked the 
point-blank question: *What has been the conduct generally 
of the colored people in your country?' He replied seriously: 
'Very good, with the exception of rapes, murders and thefts, 
and things of that kind.' But the victims of these rapes, murders, 
thefts and things of that kind found it difficult to consider such 
conduct as Very good.' Their protests at their helpless plight 
were loud and bitter; and as protests proved unavailing, more 
and more Ku Klux dens began to spring up throughout the 
state. The judiciary system of the state at this time was a farce, 
a large proportion of the judges being incompetent, many of 
them corrupt and all of them of the Radical persuasion. If 
the courts did happen to convict a negro or a carpetbagger of 
arson or burglary or assault, he was generally let oflf with a 
nominal fine; or, if sentenced to prison, was often pardoned 

North Carolina 197 

by the Governor immediately. In such revolutionary circuit 
stances the citizens' only avenue of relief seemed to be througri 
the medium of self-constituted organizations of regulators Uke 
the Ku Klux Klan. 

Ku Klux affairs reached a climax in North Carolina early 
in 1870, with outbursts of notable violence in Alamance, Orange, 
Chatham and neighboring counties. In Alamance the order 
was supposed to have been disbanded late in 1869, at which 
time the Ku Klux staged a public parade at Graham as a 
final demonstration. A negro, later identified as Wyatt Outlaw, 
the head of the Loyal League in that county, fired into this 
parade; and one morning in February, 1870, his body was found 
hanging to a tree in the courthouse yard. On the other hand, 
a group of members of the Constitutional Union Guard in 
Alamance saved the life of State Senator Shoffher, author of 
the hated state Ku Klux law, when they heard that a band 
of Ku Klux were coming from Orange County to hang the 
senator. The visiting band was turned back at the county line 
and Shoffner was hustled off to safety in Greensboro. 

Governor Holden adopted different methods to handle these 
outbreaks. In Orange County he hired a prominent citizen 
of Hillsboro, Doctor Pride Jones, giving him a captain's com- 
mission, for the purpose of suppressing the Ku Klux activities 
in that county. Doctor (or Captain) Jones moved in a mysteri- 
ous way but he got results. He was very emphatic in pointing 
out at the beginning that he was not a member of the Ku Klux; 
but he seemed to know the identity of the proper persons to ap- 
proach; and within four weeks he reported that the order in 
that county had been disbanded, Holden having authorized 
him to assure the Orange County Ku Klux that if they would 
go and sin no more they would not be prosecuted for past 
offenses. Doctor Pride in his report to the Governor said plainly 
that the organization resulted from the fact that barns were 
being burned and that women were in mortal terror of assault, 

igS Invisible Empire 

an(d that in the absence of effective courts the citizens had 
in i^en the law into their own hands. He did not seem to be 
entirely lacking in sympathy for their motives. 

In other counties Governor Holden was not quite so diplo- 
matic or lenient. Caswell County was generally looked upon 
as a Ku Klux stronghold, and Holden sent one of his political 
henchmen, State Senator John W. Stephens, there in the ca- 
pacity of a detective. Stephens was a typical scalawag politician, 
popularly known as. 'Chicken' Stephens in commemoration 
of his having been convicted of chicken-stealing before the war. 
It was a current joke that, having stolen a chicken and been 
elected to the state senate, he was considering stealing a turkey 
gobbler so he could run for Congress. Stephens had hardly ar- 
rived in Yanceyville before he started making speeches to the 
negroes at their League meetings; and on one occasion, it was 
charged, gave every negro a box of matches with the suggestion 
that they would be useful in burning the white people's houses 
and barns. There ensued a perfect orgy of arson. Nine barns 
were burned in one night; the hotel in Yanceyville was burned, 
along with a row of brick houses, and the tobacco crops of 
several of the leading citizens were destroyed. Stephens was 
held Responsible for th is jjy the local Ku Klu x, and a iew days 
later, onj^ uly gj -^diile jie was attending a dmass meeting of 

^ens in the courthouse at Yanceyville he was called out of 

■~~ y___ _^ ' / __ _____ 

t he room, a ndnolhing inuic was seen of tirni until his dead 

body was found the next day^ln a little room on the^ ground 

floor usedJoiL^tonngJirewood. I'he Radicals howled that he 

had'^Been killed by the Ku Klux; the Ku Klux started the 

usual counter-cry that he had been murdered by his own party 

for the purpose of throwing suspicion on the Klan. 

Despite the most vigorous investigation, the affair remained 

an unsolved mystery until October, 1935, when Captain John 

G. Lea died at the home of his son, Weldon Lea, in South 

Boston, Virginia. There was then revealed an affidavit which 

North Carolina 199 

Captain Lea had made on July 2, 1919, and which had lain 
sealed in the files of the North Carolina Historical Commission 
at Raleigh since then, in which he told how Stephens had 
been killed 'by appointed executioners of the Ku Klux Klan' 
after he had had *a fair trial before a jury of twelve men.* 
There were a dozen who took part in the assassination, he said, 
and they all swore never to tell anything about it until the last 
one died. Captain Lea was the last, and he made his affidavit 
on the anniversary of the event, depositing |t with the Historical 
Commission with the proviso that it slifeuld not be opened 
until his death. According to his story, the actual executioners 
of Stephens were Captain J. Thomas Mitchell and Thomas 
Oliver, Mitchell strangling Stephens with a rope as OHver 
plunged a knife into his breast anc^his throat. 

Captain Lea in his affidavit revealed that he was the organ- 
izer of the Klan in Caswell County; and that when the mass 
meeting was called to be held in Yanceyville he summoned the 
Caswell Klansmen to assemble there that afternoon with their 
robes under their saddles. While the meeting was in full blast, 
ex-Sheriff Wiley, by prearrangement, beckoned to Stephens 
and asked him to step down to the corridor on the lower floor. 
There he was quickly surrounded by a dozen robed Klansmen, 
one of whom quickly muffled his cries, the others pushing him 
into the little room, where he was quickly killed, Wiley mean- 
while having passed on out in the street to establish his alibi. 
Their work done, the avenging Ku Klux removed their robes 
and rolled them into small bundles which they secreted under 
their coats, left the room, closed the door and locked it on the 
outside, and threw the key into County Line Creek. 

The kilHng of Stephens gave Holden just the excuse he needed 
for taking a daring and drastic step. The state legislature in 
January, 1870, acting at Holden's direction, had enacted what 
was known as the Shoffner Bill or Ku Klux Law, which per- 
mitted the Governor to declare any county in the state in in- 

200 Invisible Empire 

surrection and to raise militia and send them there. Backed 
up by this power, and sensing the rising tide of Democratic 
voting strength in the state which threatened the success of 
the Radical ticket in the next election, Holden now boldly 
declared that the state was overrun with Ku Klux to such an 
extent that it was impossible for the civil authorities to cope 
with them, and he proceeded to raise two companies of militia 
with which he planned to terrorize the counties where the 
Ku Klux had been reported most active. 

One of these militia companies was commanded by Colonel 
George W. Kirk, who was popularly known as 'Bloody' Kirk 
or 'Cut-Throat' Kirk, both appellations having been well earned 
during the wartime days when Kirk commanded a band of 
pro-Union guerrillas in the mountains of East Tennessee. 
He recruited his new militia force of six hundred and seventy 
very largely from these wartime outlaws, fortified with other 
vagabonds and desperadoes, some black and some white, 
four hundred of them being under age and two hundred not 
citizens of the state. After mobilizing them at Morganton, he 
marched his motley and irresponsible little army eastward, 
his troops signalizing their passage through the country with 
a series of crimes and misdemeanors which the New York 
World denounced as *a disgrace to the Nineteenth Century.' 
As Kirk's 'Angels,' so-called, approached Caswell and Alamance 
Counties, Governor Holden officially declared those counties 
in a state of insurrection, and proclaimed martial law in them. 
Kirk pounced down and made wholesale arrests of suspected 
members of the Ku Klux Klan; and when some of them ob- 
tained habeas corpus writs ordering their release he defied the 
state's supreme court by ignoring the writs, insolently declaring 
that *those things have played out now.' 

To back up Holden's claim that the state was in a condition 
bordering on insurrection, Judge Tourgee wrote a letter to 
Senator Abbott of North Carolina, another carpetbagger, which 

North Carolina 201 

was widely published during the 1870 campaign. This letter, 
as published, declared that the Ku Klux had broken into 
4000 or 5000 houses, that they had burned fourteen houses in 
his immediate district and that he knew of thirteen murders 
in the district. This letter was used with telling effect, without 
comment from Judge Tourgee; but after the Radicals had 
gained the full benefit of its contents and the election was over, 
he blandly stated that it had been misquoted. *I wrote four 
arsons instead of fourteen,' he said. 'Instead of 4000 or 5000 
houses opened, I wrote 400 or 500. I said thirteen murders 
in the state, not in the district.' Incidentally, it was later found 
that three of the men reported murdered were still alive; and 
it was also stated that some of the house-burnings and other 
acts of violence were perpetrated by Holden's supporters to 
provoke resistance to the exaggerated Ku Klux menace. After 
the election Kirk's Ku Klux prisoners were brought before Judge 
Brooks of the United States district court and all were released. 

When the Congressional Committee completed its investi- 
gation of affairs in the state, the majority reported that 'The 
Ku Klux organization does exist' and that it had political pur- 
poses which it sought to carry out by 'murders, whippings, 
intimidation and violence.' On the other hand, the minority 
report said that the outrages had been 'grossly and wilfully 
exaggerated' and that no act of lawlessness at all had been 
proven 'except in six, perhaps eight, of the eighty-seven North 
Carolina counties.' 

Granting that both the majority and minority reports were 
colored by political feeling, it is interesting to read the official 
report of the United States Army officer. Colonel Hunt of Fort 
Adams, who commanded the affected district and who wrote 
on January 2, 1871: 'Evidence of the existence of such organiza- 
tions was produced. Nearly all the cases inquired into, however, 
proved that other than poHtical purposes were effected through 
the organization, whose machinery was used to punish thefts. 

202 Invisible Empire 

burglaries, insults to women, and other offenses in no w ay 
connected with^olitics . In fine, their principal work seemed 
to be the work of regulators, or vigilance committees. Bad 
enough in themselves, these crimes were in the bitterness of 
party feeling exaggerated and misrepresented. To what extent 
murders and outrages were for political purposes I am not in 
position to state. For when the legislature passed laws to punish 
members of secret organizations they were to a great extent 
if not wholly dissolved.' 

The Democrats carried the election in 1870, but not before 
there had been wholesale indictments of suspected Ku Klux 
scattered through a number of North Carolina counties. These 
prosecutions under the Shoffner Law and the Federal Ku Klux 
Law continued until in 1871 there had been a total of 61 bills 
of indictment found, embracing no less than 763 defendants. 
A large part of these indictments were found in Rutherford 
County, and provide a striking example of the extensive results 
that can ensue from small causes. Almost all the Ku Klux 
trouble in Rutherford County originated in a remarkably 
venomous politico-family feud in that county between two 
half-brothers, Aaron and Samuel Biggerstaff. 

The origin of the Biggerstaff feud is more or less obscure, but 
dated back to the days of the Civil War. Aaron Biggerstaff 
was a Republican and Samuel a Democrat. Aaron had been a 
Union sympathizer during the war, and had been active in 
helping escaped Union prisoners to make their way through 
the mountains. He was a member of the secret society called 
*The Red Strings' or *Heroes of America,' which was later 
merged into the Loyal League; and during the latter days of 
the war acted as a guide to a body of Federal cavalry who were 
visiting the farms in that vicinity taking up the farmers' horses, 
among the places visited being that of Samuel Biggerstaff. 

In February, 1870, there was some internal strife in Ruther- 
ford County, involving some illicit distilling operations, and 

North Carolina 


an obscure citizen named McGahey was accused of informing 
on the moonshiners. Soon afterward his house was visited by 
a masked band of men at night; and, although he was not at 
home, the raiders vented their spleen by abusing and threaten- 
ing his wife. McGahey was a man of some spirit and mettle, 
and when he got home and was informed of the raid he called 
together some of his neighbors, including Aaron Biggerstaff, to 
go with him in pursuit of the raiders, there being a light snow 
on the ground which made the footprints plainly visible. The 
footprints led in the direction of Samuel BiggerstafTs home; 
and when the avenging party got there they fired into the house, 
narrowly missing killing Samuel and some of his family. 

McGahey's wife the next morning told him that she had 
recognized one of the masked visitors as a young man of the 
neighborhood named Decatur DePriest; whereupon McGahey 
took his shotgun and went to DePriest's home, called him to 
the front door and without parley killed him. McGahey then 
left the country and was heard of no more. Samuel Biggerstaff, 
incensed at the attack on his home, had Aaron Biggerstaff and 
some of the other members of the party arrested. They were 
duly convicted of having committed the assault, but a friendly 
Radical judge let them off with a nominal fine of twenty-five 

Decatur DePriest, it later developed, was the Cyclops of 
the local Den of Ku Klux; and following his murder there were 
no Ku Klux activities in that vicinity for several months. 
Animosity against Aaron Biggerstaff continued to smolder, 
however; and when the barn of one of his neighbors, William P. 
Carson, was burned, he was accused of the arson. The members 
of the local Ku Klux Den meanwhile had been pulling them- 
selves together following the shock of Decatur DePriest's death; 
and, with the burning of Carson's barn as an immediate provo- 
cation, Aaron Biggerstaff was taken from his home by the 
Ku Klux one night and severely whipped. 

204 Invisible Empire 

Promptly next day BiggerstafF had warrants sworn out for 
about forty of his neighbors, including his brother Samuel, 
whom he accused of being members of the whipping party. 
These men were released on bail; and several weeks later, as 
Biggerstaff and some of the members of his family were on their 
way to court to testify against the defendants, they were way- 
laid by another raiding party — some masked and some un- 
masked — and frightened to such an extent that they did not 
go to court. 

The various Biggerstaff raids and the prosecutions growing 
out of them culminated in a spectacular Ku Klux raid on the 
town of Rutherford ton on a Sunday night, June ii, 1870. 
This well-organized foray had for its principal purpose the 
destruction of the plant of the Star, a Republican newspaper 
edited by T. B. Carpenter, and the punishment of Aaron Bigger- 
stafF, James M. Justice and George W. Logan, the latter the 
scalawag circuit judge. 

The party making the Rutherfordton raid, according to 
the later confessions of participants, was under the direction 
and leadership of Randolph A. Shotwell, the Grand Giant of 
Rutherford County — and, incidentally, the editor of the 
Rutherfordton Vindicator. The raiding party, however, was 
composed of some ninety members, made up of groups from 
four different Dens. There were detachments from the Cherry 
Mountain Den, the Bald Rock Den and the Burnt Chimney 
Den in the immediate county, and about forty men from the 
Horse Creek Den in the near-by Spartanburg district of South 
Carolina. The different detachments were handled with military 
efficiency, effecting a junction at an appointed rendezvous at 
Cox's blacksmith shop, and thence marching into the town and 
proceeding about their appointed and prearranged duties. 
Some were assigned to the demolition of the Star plant; some 
searched for Logan and Biggerstaff; some were posted as 
sentinels about the town and on the roads leading into it; and 
one group went to Justice's house after him. 


North Carolina 205 

'^ Judge Logan was a prime example of the genus scalawag. 
He was a native Southerner, and had served as a member of 
the Confederate Congress. With the failure of the Confederate 
cause, however, he hastily left the sinking ship and proclaimed 
that when he took the oath to support the Confederate Constitu- 
tion he did so with the deliberate intention of violating it. 
Like most new converts, he became a fire-eating Radical, and 
when he was elevated to the Federal bench and started dispens- 
ing justice there was an immediate uproar of complaint about 
the partisanship he manifested in his decisions. Aside from his 
partisanship, he was so generally incompetent that in June, 
1 87 1, a meeting of the bar in his district was held and resolu- 
tions of condemnation were adopted stating that he was *not 
qualified either by learning or capacity to discharge the duties 

i of the office,' and that by reason of his incompetent administra- 
tion of his duties 'public confidence in the efficiency of the 
government and the laws has been impaired, and crimes have 
been multiplied.' This resolution was signed by all the practic- 
ing attorneys in the district. Democrats and Republicans alike. 
Justice was a scalawag lawyer who had been active in the 
prosecution of Aaron Biggerstaff 's assailants, and had procured 
the indictment of other alleged members of the Ku Klux. He 
had made himself obnoxious to the members of the Klan by 
his violent and vociferous denunciations of them and all their 
works, declaring that all the Ku Klux leaders ought to be 
killed. Carpenter was not only offensive as the editor of a 
Radical newspaper; he had boasted that he had a list of the 
y names of two hundred Ku Klux in the county and that he 
\ was going to have them all arrested. 

Fortunately for Logan, he was out of town the night the 
Ku Klux raiders swept into Rutherfordton and deployed for 
action. Biggerstaff* was in town, but he so skilfully hid himself 
that he could not be found. Carpenter was also out of town, 
but his newspaper plant was raided and wrecked, the press 

2o6 Invisible Empire 

broken and the cases of type overturned and pied. Failing to 
find the other objects of their search, Justice had to bear the 
brunt of the Ku Klux fury, and they gave him a very unpleasant 

Justice later stated that he was not entirely surprised by the 
raid, as before retiring to his bed that evening he had heard two 
pistol shots on the outskirts of the town, which was generally 
understood to be the signal given when the Ku Klux were to 
assemble. Despite this alarum, he went peacefully to sleep; but 
during the night he was awakened by shots fired outside his 
house, closely followed by a rush on his front door which broke 
it down, and before he could make any defensive move his bed 
was surrounded by a crowd of disguised men, looking, he said, 
'more like a man would imagine that devils would look than 
you would ever suppose human beings would fix themselves 
up to look.' 

'Don't say a word; your time has come,' they gruffly told 
him; and, after considerable manhandling, he was dragged 
out in his nightclothes, and, through the pouring rain, was 
marched barefooted to the edge of town. He complained that 
it hurt his feet, but they told him that made no difference, he 
wouldn't need his feet very long as they were going to kill him. 
He attempted to argue this point with them, but they told him: 
'You have been making some very strong speeches lately; you 
are in favor of hanging our leaders. Our party proposes to rid 
this country of this damned, infamous nigger government, and 
you propose to defeat us by hanging our leaders, you damned 

Eventually Justice was taken to the leader of this detachment 
of the band, a man whom he later described as 'sensible and 
fair-minded,' by whom he was subjected to a long grilling re- 
garding the steps which he and the others had taken against 
the Ku Klux. At length the leader told Justice that if he would 
lead a party of the raiders back to town and help them find 

North Carolina 207 

BiggerstafF they would spare his life. Justice was in such terror 
that he eagerly accepted the suggestion that he betray Bigger- 
staff in return for their sparing him, but some of the Ku Klux 
objected very strongly to such an arrangement. One of them 
said: 'Don't you turn this damn rascal loose. He says he don't 
know any of us, but if you turn him loose he will go right off 
and swear to every one of us. He will go to Washington in less 
than a week and have the troops here and play hell with us. 
Damn him, kill him now that we have got him.' 

The leader responded sternly: 'Remember our oath: "Justice 
and humanity,"' repeating this three or four times. They 
were loud and clamorous, however, in their insistence that he 
must be killed; and the leader finally placed a bodyguard of 
four armed men around Justice to protect him from any too 
impetuous individual, while he continued to parley with him. 
All this time, however, the clamor continued: 'Kill him; kill 
him' ; and some of the raiders came up and poked their pistols 
in Justice's face, reaching across the guard, threatening to shoot 
him then and there. 

The chief was irritated by this and cried out: 'Where is the 
chief of the Horse Creek Camp?' And, when told that the 
chief of that Den had gone up the road, he said petulantly: 
'Is there no officer here?' A voice replied that he was second 
in command, whereupon the leader said: 'Well, damn you, 
take charge of your men and command them if you have any 
control over them. I was given this command, and I will be 
respected. You are the worst men I ever saw.' 

This display of authority served to still the clamor, and the 
men of the rank and file withdrew to a respectful distance; 
whereupon the leader told Justice that he had no personal 
feeling in the matter, that he was from South Carolina and had 
come there to lead the raid at the request of the local dens. 
'These men want to kill you very badly,' he said, 'but I want to 
save you if I can. I have an absolute order to take your Hfe 

2o8 Invisible Empire 

tonight; but we have a rule that if a man behaves so as to 
justify it we may spare him. I think you ought to be spared; 
and if you will stop supporting the damned Radical party I 
think you will be all right, and I should like to know you in 
our order.' Justice, according to his own account of the affair, 
was ready to promise anything to save his life, and he responded 
eagerly, 'Yes, yes.' 

The leader finally said: 'Let's have this all understood. Do 
you promise here now to be a true friend to the Southern cause?' 
Justice, in his later recital of the events of that stormy night, 
said: 'I made an evasive answer. I said: "Yes, sir, I will here- 
after be a true friend of Southern men." He said "Southern 
cause" but I said "Southern men," which he accepted as an 
answer to his proposition.' Overlooking this equivocation, the 
leader then told Justice that he must promise to meet them at 
a Ku Klux rendezvous at Cowpens battleground — which, 
Mr. Justice carefully explained in telling his story, was 'where 
a battle was fought, near King's Mountain, in the old Revolu- 
tionary War.' Justice raised the objection that they might kill 
him if he attended the meeting, saying he was afraid to go that 
far away from home after dark. They pointed out to him, 
however, that if they wanted to kill him they could do it right 
then; and, as a compromise, suggested that he meet them at 
Cox's Blacksmith Shop, which was nearer town. Justice agreed 
to this, and then asked them to tell him how to approach the 
meeting — to give him some password by which he might make 
himself known — and, his account continues: 

'He said, "When a voice calls out to you 'Halt,' you will say 
'Number One'; then you will be asked 'Who are you?' and 
you will reply 'A friend'; and you will then be asked 'A friend 
to what?' The answer you will give will be 'A friend to my 
country.' You will then be asked 'How can you prove that?' 
and you will say 'I s-a-y.' That is not our password, I want 
you to understand that, but you will get through with that. 

North Carolina 209 

I assure you that you will be treated all right that night." After 
we had some more words in a friendly way I expressed my 
gratitude not only to him but to the men who stood around me, 
for discharging me. I shook hands with each of them in a 
friendly way, and told them "Good-bye," and they let me go 
and I ran home as rapidly as possible.' 

Needless to say, Justice did not keep his appointment with 
his new Ku Klux chums, but, on the contrary, went immediately 
to Raleigh and appeared before the Federal grand jury there, 
as a result of which bills of indictment were found against a 
large number of residents of Rutherford County whom Justice 
claimed to have recognized the night of the raid. A United 
States marshal went to Rutherfordton, accompanied by a 
troop of mounted infantry, to serve the warrants; and as a 
result of this show of force and the indictment of some of the 
leaders of the Ku Klux movement in that locality, a sort of 
panic ensued among the members of the organization. The 
reputed leaders of several of the Dens hastily left the country. 
On the other hand, some of the weaker members were frightened 
into confessing, and this precipitated an epidemic of confes- 
sions which did not end until 763 residents of that and adjoining 
counties had been indicted under the Federal Ku Klux Act. 

It was charged that Judge Logan had offered *base and 
dishonorable inducements' to extort these confessions out of 
some of the prisoners; but, even admitting that some of the 
confessions bear internal evidence of proving what the prose- 
cutors wanted to prove, it seems apparent that they were in a 
general way pretty close to the facts. At any rate, eight of the 
defendants were finally convicted and sentenced to serve terms 
in prison, among them being the reputed leader of the Klan 
in the county. The conduct of the trial was subjected to sharp 
criticism, not only in the South but in other parts of the country, 
even by papers which were militantly hostile to the Ku Klux. 
For example, the New York Sun said: 'With violent partisans 

210 Invisible Empire 

as prosecuting officers, a packed jury, and a hostile court against 
them, it is no wonder that these men were convicted. They 
may all have received only their just deserts in the end; but 
no one can pretend that the manner of their conviction was 
anything but a mockery of justice and an outrage on judicial 

The opinion was expressed by conservative residents of 
Rutherford County that the whole reign of terror in that county 
grew out of the court's leniency with the original assailants of 
Samuel Biggerstaff. Tf,' said one of them, 'Aaron Biggerstaff 
had been punished for his assault upon his brother with deliber- 
ate purpose to kill, these troubles would not have arisen' ; point- 
ing out that Aaron Biggerstaff had been dismissed with a slap 
on the wrist in the shape of a twenty-five-dollar fine, whereas 
the men accused of whipping him were arrested on bench 
warrants the next day and held in bail in the state courts, and 
also arrested under Federal warrants and carried off to Raleigh, 
two hundred and fifty miles from their homes, and lodged in 
jail among strangers, where they were held until released under 
five hundred dollars bail. 

The Rutherfordton raid was the last outstanding, big-scale 
Ku Klux demonstration in North Carolina. Not only did the 
wholesale indictments tend to discourage membership in the 
proscribed organization; but, even before that, the more level- 
headed leaders had begun to take steps looking to its disband- 
ment. David Schenck, reputedly the Grand Giant of Lincoln 
County, testified that he left the order early in 1870 when it 
began to get out of hand and deeds of violence were committed. 
He said that when he severed his connection with it he caused 
at least three Dens to be disbanded and also caused his personal 
and political friends to use their influence in the same direction, 
with the result that 'nine-tenths of the respectable men who 
had ever had any connection with it left it.' Afterward, he said, 
'men of violent character reorganized it, and it was not the 

North Carolina 2 1 1 

original society. It degenerated into a band of robbers, rioters 
and lynch-law men who deserve the severest punishment. I 
think it has been very grossly perverted to improper purposes.' 

In the spring of 1870, when cooler heads in the organization 
began to recognize the fact that violently inclined individuals 
in the order were committing excesses which were not only 
wrong in themselves but were bringing disrepute on the con- 
servative people of the state, ex-Governor Bragg wrote to some 
of the more prominent men in various sections of the state 
where the Ku Klux were active, urging them to take whatever 
steps they could to have the organization disbanded. Among 
others, this letter was addressed to Mr. Schenck and also to 
Plato Durham of Shelby, who was generally understood to be 
the chief of the Klan in Cleveland County. Mr. Schenck replied 
that he was already doing all he could in a quiet way, having 
already effected the disbandment of three Dens, but that he 
was afraid to come out publicly and denounce the excesses, as 
he feared that the lawless men then in control of the Ku Klux 
affairs would take personal vengeance on him. 

Mr. Durham, in a conscientious effort to do something, 
made a mistake which caused him a great deal of trouble. 
Hearing of the suggested raid on Aaron Biggerstaff, he attended 
the preliminary meeting of the Cherry Mountain Den at which 
the raid was discussed and made them a speech urging them to 
refrain from the project. He took the precaution to carry along 
with him nine unmasked friends who could serve as witnesses 
of the purpose of his attendance at the Klan meeting; but when 
the wholesale confessions started to pouring in, Mr. Durham's 
nine friends were all indicted (thus stilling their voices as wit- 
nesses in his defense), while by promising immunity to some of 
the actual parties to the raid it was possible to get them to 
testify that Durham had talked to them for the purpose of 
advising and urging the raid, and he was consequently indicted. 

The authorities were very hberal in the granting of immunity 

212 Invisible Empire 

to recusants who would make the right kind of confessions. 
In this way they were able to indict a large number of suspected 
Ku Klux; although the price paid for the necessary evidence 
was frequently the liberation of known criminals. For instance, 
in 1 87 1 Anderson Davis and six or seven others were arrested, 
charged with Ku Kluxing under the Federal law; and when the 
district court met they all confessed their guilt. They were, how- 
ever, released from custody, it being charged that Judge Bond 
made a deal with them whereby he promised to set them free 
if they would implicate others as members of the organization. 
They delivered handsomely, and upon their testimony some 
eighty or ninety citizens of Lincolnton and its vicinity were 

The community was very much incensed at this, seeing seven 
confessedly guilty men escape punishment as a reward for im- 
plicating a number of others, many of whom were popularly 
regarded as being innocent of any wrongdoing. Davis himself 
had a most unsavory reputation and record. David Schenck 
said that Davis, 'who had committed more offenses than any 
of them, had been for a long time a member of the Union 
League, and afterwards joined the Ku Klux in 1870 and 1871, 
after it had degenerated into a mob of rioters. He joined them 
and was a common robber. He had committed burglary and 
robbery and every other crime known to the catalogue. He had 
formerly been a leader among the negroes, and he is now still 
a very loud-mouthed Republican.' 

Davis was fairly typical of the class of irresponsible people 
who used the Ku Klux regalia as a cloak for their misdeeds 
during its declining days and thereby brought discredit on the 
organization. By 187 1 the real Ku Klux were rapidly disappear- 
ing from the scene. They had served their purpose, socially and 
politically. The carpetbaggers and scalawags were on the way 
out. The native Democrats were regaining control of the 
state's political machinery, and Holden was facing impeachment 

North Carolina 213 

proceedings which left him permanently bereft of his citizenship. 
Among other reform measures taken by the new Democratic 
legislature in 1871 was the enactment of a law providing for 
the disbanding of all secret political organizations. This was 
aimed directly at the Loyal Leagues, and was immediately suc- 
cessful in their extinguishment. The Ku Klux Klan disappeared 
from sight at about the same time — whether because its mem- 
bers regarded it as coming within the provisions of the new 
law or because they felt that, with the Loyal League disbanded, 
there was no further need for the Klan's existence in North 



South Carolina had provocation for a resort to Ku Kluxism or 
any other desperate expedient for the preservation of its rights, 
for post-war South CaroHna was the victim of the most out- 
rageous debauchery of a state government ever witnessed in 
this country. Immediately following the war, there was no 
intimation that South Carolina's period of travail would be 
any more painful or more extended than that of any other 
Southern state. In his original program of reconstruction, 
President Johnson had appointed Benjamin Franklin Perry 
governor. Perry was not appointed until June, 1865; and to 
hasten the work of getting the state government reorganized, 
he, although a strong pro-Union man, resorted to the simple 
and practical expedient of restoring to office all those who held 
public positions in 1861 and who were therefore familiar with 
their duties and best fitted to step in and get the governmental 
machinery to functioning smoothly again. Perry, however, 
served only until the first election was held in October, 1865, 
at which time James L. Orr was elected governor in a makeshift 
election in which only 18,885 votes were cast in the whole state. 
Orr had a long record of public service. Before the war he 
had represented South Carolina in Congress, having been 
elected Speaker of the House of Representatives; and he also 

South Carolina 215 

served a term in the Confederate Senate during the war. He 
was elected governor in 1865 as a Conservative, and seemed 
genuinely anxious to serve his state well; but he soon came to 
the conclusion that it was futile to resist the dominant Republican 
Party, and he slowly drifted into its ranks. He said he deplored 
the disfranchisement of many of the best citizens of the state, 
and he deprecated the enfranchisement of the colored race 
without regard to their education and their fitness to exercise 
the right of suffrage; but when Congress passed the Reconstruc- 
tion Act in 1867 he advised acquiescence in the measures of 
Congress, even though they were objectionable. 

At the election held in 1867 the moderate but wishy-washy 
Orr was succeeded as governor by Richard K. Scott, who was 
inaugurated in July, 1868. Scott was a carpetbagger from 
Ohio, an officer in the Freedmen's Bureau who had popularized 
himself with the negroes by posing as their aggressive champion; 
and his subordinate state officers were a choice lot of carpet- 
baggers and scalawags — black, white and mulatto — at least 
one of them a fugitive from criminal prosecution at home. 
An element of honesty and respectability was introduced in the 
person of Daniel H. Chamberlain, who filled the office of at- 
torney-general, an ex-officer of the Union army who had settled 
in South Carolina at the close of the war and gained the respect 
of a great many of the native people there, even though they 
differed politically. He was an exception to the rule, however, 
most of the state officials being of similar stripe to the degenerate 
Franklin J. Moses, who was denounced by one of his own 
colleagues as being *as infamous a character as ever in any age 
disgraced and prostituted public position.' Of the 124 members 
of the state's House of Representatives, 76 were negroes and, of 
course. Republicans; and of the 48 white men in the House 
only 14 were Democrats. Of the 33 members of the Senate 9 
were negroes, and only 7 of the total membership were Demo- 

2i6 Invisible Empire 

* Scott's administration of affairs in South Carolina was so 
corrupt and so oppressive that even a Northern observer like 
S. S. Cox of New York declared that since the world began no 
parallel could be found for its unblushing knavery. 'If the entire 
body of penitentiary convicts,' he said, 'could be invested with 
supreme power in a state, they could not present a more revolt- 
ing mockery of all that is honorable and respectable in the con- 
duct of human affairs. The knaves and their sympathizers, 
North and South, complain that the taxpayers forcibly over- 
threw, by unfair and by violent means, the reign of scoundrelism, 
enthroned by ignorance. If ever revolutionary methods were 
justifiable for the overthrow of tyranny and robbery, assuredly 
the carpetbag domination of South Carolina called for it. Only 
scoundrels and hypocrites will pretend to deplore the result.' 

It was the outrageous excesses of the Scott administration 
that finally aroused the people of South Carolina to the fighting 
point, but the seeds of trouble were sown during the early 
post-war days during the mild administrations of Perry and 
Orr. While these men successively were trying to reconstruct 
and re-establish the state, the agents of the Union League were 
descending on it like a plague of locusts, organizing the new- 
freed negroes into this militant secret society, swearing them to 
oppose and hate the white people, arming them and maliciously 
inciting them to active violence. The easily influenced negroes, 
here as elsewhere, were led into excesses, and these immediately 
developed a tendency on the part of the outraged whites to 
resort to direct retaliatory and defensive action. 

Some of these volunteer regulators called themselves Ku 
Klux as early as 1867, but there was no regular organization 
of the real Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina until the summer 
of 1868. In July of that year the excesses of the so-called Ku 
Klux in this state attracted the attention of General George 
W. Gordon, who was the Grand Dragon of Tennessee and also 
a sort of assistant Grand Wizard of the Empire, and he sent 

South Carolina 217 

R. J. Brunson of Pulaski, Tennessee, to Rock Hill, Soutti 
Carolina, with a supply of the printed rituals of the Klan, 
with orders to organize the genuine Ku Klux Klan in a formal 
manner in that state. Brunson has related that he remained in 
South Carolina for three months engaged in this work, organ- 
ized several Dens and then returned home. 

The Ku Klux operations in South Carolina were principally 
in what was locally known as the *up country' — nine counties 
lying north and west of Columbia: York, Spartanburg, New- 
berry, Union, Laurens, Chester, Lancaster, Fairfield and 
Chesterfield. The Ku Klux seemed to be most active and 
numerous in York County and in the neighborhood of Spartan- 
burg; and they were hardly known at all in the low country. 

As was true in Mississippi, the Ku Klux movement in South 
CaroHna appears to have experienced two separate manifesta- 
tions — one in 1868 and a revival in 1870, the latter having 
been the more violent and sensational. During 1868 the Klan 
seems to have indulged in nothing more serious than the distri- 
bution of the customary warnings to obnoxious characters, 
backed up with occasional floggings; at that time they had not 
gone to the extremity of homicide. 

A typical Ku Klux 'outrage' of the 1868 period occurred in 
Newberry just prior to the election of that year. In order to 
control the ignorant negro vote, the Radical leaders in the 
various precincts had been supplied with pre-marked Republi- 
can ballots which were to be given to the individual negro 
g. voters when they appeared at the polls. The Ku Klux heard 
of this, and the night before the election they donned their 
vestments and visited the negro leaders and took the marked 
ballots away from them. As the negro voters could neither 
read nor write, they were unable to mark their own ballots 
the next day and consequently the Republican candidates got 
few votes in those precincts. 

Such more or less harmless hazing was about the extent of 

2i8 Invisible Empire 

the Ku Klux work at first, and it would probably have dwindled 
away to nothing if there had not been a strong provocation for 
its revival and extension early in the turbulent reign of Governor 
Scott. The foundation for serious trouble was laid in March, 
1869, when the legislature passed an act authorizing the gov- 
ernor to raise a militia force to be known as the National Guard; 
it being specified that no military organization could be formed 
in the state without the permission and approval of the governor. 
On its face the act seemed innocent enough. Nobody paid 
much attention to it at the time, and the governor did not avail 
himself of the power conferred on him by it until more than a 
year later, during the state election campaign in 1870. 

At that time the corruption of Scott's administration had so 
aroused the people that there had been organized an effort to 
encompass the defeat of him and his corrupt cohorts by the 
formation of what was known as the Union Reform Party, a 
coalition of Conservatives and those Republicans who gagged 
at Scott's excesses. To emphasize the non-partisan nature of 
the movement, the nominee of this party for governor was 
Judge Richard B. Carpenter, a Republican; and the campaign 
was pitched solely on the desirability of replacing the corrupt 
Radical administration with decently honest officials regardless 
of party. Scott, fearful of the outcome of this spontaneous 
movement if it were left to develop unchecked, bethought him- 
self of the militia law and secretly proceeded to organize fourteen 
full regiments of negro troops, and armed them with a new 
supply of ten thousand Winchester rifles and a million car- 
tridges bought for that special purpose, at a cost of over four 
hundred thousand dollars to the state. Emissaries of the gov- 
ernor were sent through the state organizing these forces in 
every county; and before the white citizens knew what was 
happening they woke up and found that they were under the 
surveillance of a large force of armed negroes, intoxicated 
with their new power. 

South Carolina 219 

With arms in their hands the *hep men/ as they were called 
by the civilian negroes, became unbearably insolent and ag- 
gressive. A favorite pastime was swaggering in groups along 
the sidewalks, pushing the unarmed white people out of their 
way into the streets. They would march along the roads, 
wantonly killing dogs and livestock with their new toys, the 
militia guns, and firing volleys above dwelling houses and 
churches where services were being held. After their drills 
and parades, which were frequent, they would generally be 
exhorted by orators, black and white, who dwelt with unction 
on the miseries of their previous servitude and inculcated mis- 
trust of their old masters. The land and all the property in 
the state, they were told, really belonged to them, since their 
labor had created it; and the orators declared that the Radicals 
would bring about a redistribution of the property among its 
rightful owners the negroes, repeating the alluring fiction of 
Torty acres and a mule.' The idea that their former masters 
were their friends was ridiculed by these speakers. A mulatto 
spellbinder, a member of Congress, told an audience of negro 
voters in Columbia: T am an illustration of the only love they 
had for the negro race — the tid-bits of sexual intercourse.' 
Joe Crews, a scalawag member of the legislature from Laurens, 
in his speeches pointedly mentioned that matches were for 
sale at five cents a box and that they provided a cheap and easy 
means of vengeance. 

The most violent outburst of Ku Kluxism in South Carolina 
was contemporaneous with the arming of this new-made black 
militia. There had been Loyal Leagues since 1867, and there 
had been Ku Klux Dens since 1868; but the spark generated 
by the friction between these two organizations was not fanned 
into full flame until the white people of South Carolina found 
themselves under the dominance of the armed and totally 
irresponsible negro militia and felt that some form of defensive 
action was immediately essential. 

220 Invisible Empire 

The campaign and election in the fall of 1870 was featured 
by a number of fatal clashes between the blacks and the whites; 
and the news of these 'riots/ generally very much magnified 
and distorted, was flashed all over the country as an evidence 
of the fact that South Carolina was on the brink of insurrection. 

The most notorious and widely advertised of these aflfrays 
was the 'Laurens riot,' which occurred on the day after the 
election. Laurens was the home of Joe Crews, a particularly 
active and offensive scalawag trouble-maker, who had harangued 
the negro militia stationed there into a state of nervous trucu- 
lence which had reached the boiUng point. The white people, 
alarmed by the militia's hostile manifestations, were also on 
edge. It was freely predicted that a clash between the two 
races was inevitable, and the white people had privately armed 
themselves in preparation for the outbreak they felt was sure 
to come. The whole situation was like the traditional open 
powder keg, just waiting for a spark to set it off*. 

The fatal spark was provided by the accidental discharge 
of a pistol which was dropped by an onlooker at a fight on the 
courthouse square between a citizen and one of the constabu- 
lary. The fight was entirely non-political in character, but 
when the report of the pistol was heard everybody in Laurens 
concluded that the expected clash had at last come. The 
negroes rushed to Joe Crews' s barn where their rifles were 
stored and, after arming themselves, rallied at their armory 
and started firing promiscuously from within the building. 
The white people also gathered together in a body and took 
part in the firing; and word was sent into the surrounding 
country for reinforcements. By nightfall Laurens was occupied 
by a force of armed white men estimated to number as high as 
twenty-five hundred; but the sheriff" raised a posse of a hundred 
men and took charge of all the arms held by Crews and the 
negroes, and eventually things quieted down — but not until 
several negroes had been killed. All of the white men engaged 

South Carolina 221 

in this affray were undisguised; but there was a general rumor, 
never confirmed, that the Ku Klux organization of the county 
did take part in the affair and provided a large number of the 
reinforcements arriving in town after the shooting started. 

There was a clash or 'riot' on a smaller scale at Newberry, 
one at Camden and another at Clinton, but no casualties at 
either place and no Ku Klux involved. At a political speaking 
in Chester, just prior to the election, there was a brawl involving 
two or three hundred men of both colors; but it was all in the 
open, with no suggestion of Ku Klux being implicated. But 
although the Ku Klux as such did not directly participate in 
these riots, their organization in the nine up-country counties 
had been growing steadily during the summer and it was soon 
apparent that they would be a factor which must be dealt with. 

A perfect hotbed of Ku Kluxism at this time was York 
County, and the Klan's activities in York may be taken as 
fairly characteristic of all that section of South Carolina in 
which the Ku Klux were active. There had been a good deal 
of trouble with the negroes in this county, with frequent clashes 
and some bloodshed. A blustering negro agitator named Tom 
Roundtree (also known as Tom Black) was killed on December 
3, 1870, by a band of disguised men supposed to be Ku Klux, 
although some of the white people of the town advanced the 
theory that he had been killed by negroes who wanted to rob 
him of the money he had just received for his cotton crop. 
It was beyond question the Ku Klux, however, who killed a 
negro named Jim Williams (also known as Jim Rainey), who 
was captain of one of the militia companies and who made 
himself especially objectionable by his threatening behavior. 
He went a step too far in his bluster, however, when he was 
heard to threaten a raid on the town in which all the white 
people would be killed Trom the cradle to the grave.' This 
proved to be his death warrant, and on the night of March 6, 
1 87 1, the local Den of Ku Klux, known as the Rattlesnake 

222 Invisible Empire 

Den, met at their customary rendezvous, the Briar Patch, put 
on their disguises and went to Williams's house, where they 
took him into the road and hung him to a convenient tree. 

As a result of these killings the negro militia in York County 
grew more truculent, but there was no open clash until one day 
when one of the militiamen, with fixed bayonet, attacked a 
Doctor Thomason of the town, who promptly knocked him 
down and stunned him. News that one of their number had 
been murdered was carried to the militia, and they got their 
arms and gathered together in a threatening manner. The 
white men also armed themselves and assembled, but they 
were hopelessly in the minority and word went out into the 
surrounding country for reinforcements. Among others who 
appeared in Yorkville in response to this call for help was a 
band of mounted strangers who were later identified as having 
come from Cleveland County, North Carolina, and who 
boldly rode into Yorkville shouting gaily: *Here's your Ku 
Klux!' They stayed in Yorkville for two or three days, until 
the trouble blew over. They camped on the property of 
Major J. W. Avery (suspected of being the Ku Klux chief in 
Yorkville), and were fed by Major Avery and some of the 
other suspected Ku Klux. The militia seemed impressed by 
this display of force and quieted down, and the North Carolina 
Ku Klux at length went home without firing a shot or striking 
a blow. 

The negroes continued resentful and antagonistic, but hardly 
bold enough to stage an open attack on the whites. They did, 
however, institute a system of patrolling the town and picketing 
the roads at night; and there was some fear expressed that the 
Ku Klux might stage a raid on the town in retaliation. Edward 
M. Rose, the scalawag county treasurer, was an active and 
prolific source of bad advice to the negroes; and, in this emer- 
gency, he was overheard telling a group of them that if the Ku 
Klux did make a raid and the white people did not turn out 

South Carolina 


to repel them the negroes should bum the town. That the 
negroes were inclined to take this advice seriously was indicated 
by the fact that a series of mysterious fires began about this time, 
and a number of barns, stables and gin-houses were burned. 

One night there were six such fires burning in sight of the 
courthouse at Yorkville, their incendiary origin being evidenced 
by the fact that they all started at one time. Just before the 
fires were sighted, Rose had fired a volley of thirty-two shots 
from two sixteen-shot repeating rifles, and the people of the 
town jumped to the conclusion that this was an agreed signal 
for the negroes to set fire to the barns and gins. Rose was already 
in distinctly bad odor with the people, and this was the last 
straw. A meeting of the Ku Klux was held on the night of 
February 26, 1871, and it was decided to go to Rose's office, 
where he had sleeping quarters, take him before the Klan for 
trial, and, if he was found guilty, to execute him. Rose was 
on the alert and escaped the raiding Ku Klux by jumping out 
of the back window of his office, and the raiders had to take 
their satisfaction out of breaking up his furniture. 

William K. Owens of Yorkville, who later confessed his 
membership in the Ku Klux, testified that most of those who 
took part in the Rose raid were not from Yorkville but from the 
outlying parts of the county. The raid was managed, he said, 
by John M. Tomlinson of Yorkville, who led a small party of 
the town Klansmen out to a point about a mile from town, 
'just above Uncle Ben Kerr's,' where the entire party assembled 
a little after midnight, to the number of forty or fifty. Owens 
testified that the intendant of Yorkville, Frank G. Harris, was 
a member of the Ku Klux, and that both the town's two con- 
stables, Rufus McLain and William Snyder, were also members. 
In such circumstances, it is hardly necessary to add, the town 
authorities' investigation of the raid was fruitless. 

The day prior to the raid on Rose's office it was reported in 
Yorkville that a company of United States troops were coming 

224 Invisible Empire 

to the town from Chester. That night several rails were removed 
from the track of the King's Mountain Railroad — presumably 
by the Ku Klux — and the troops did not reach Yorkville until 
Monday, the day after the raid. As soon as the soldiers estab- 
lished themselves in the town, Rose came back and took refuge 
in their camp and stayed four or five days. One night, however, 
the camp was fired into by unknown parties, and Captain 
Christopher, suspecting Rose of being the object of the shooting, 
ordered his departure. Rose disguised himself in a soldier's 
uniform and left town on the night train, and the next time he 
was heard from he was in Canada, his flight to that faraway 
refuge being explained when the state auditor examined his 
books and reported that he was twelve thousand dollars short 
in his accounts. 

The presence of the troops in Yorkville temporarily dampened 
the enthusiasm of the Ku Klux there, but pretty soon they 
became active again; and when the probate judge received a 
shipment of ammunition for the negro militia and stored it in 
his office, the Ku Klux broke into his office at night, confiscated 
the ammunition and threw it into a well. 

The first open outburst of Ku Klux activity in Union County 
was in connection with a white Radical named A. B. Owens, 
who made a habit of assembling the negroes around his house 
and urging them to violence. His wife objected to this, where- 
upon he proceeded to give her a good beating. The climax 
in his case came when a notice was stuck up in the street stating 
that the house of Doctor Wade Fowler ought to be burned. 
This notice was said to be in the handwriting of Owens, and 
when Fowler's home was burned by an incendiary, the Ku 
Klux called on Owens. Their purpose, presumably, was to 
whip him; but he saw them coming and fired on them, and 
they returned his fire, killing him. 

This killing of one of their white advisers incensed the negro 
militia and intensified their belligerence. This culminated in 

South Carolina 225 

a murder and a subsequent Ku Klux raid which brought on 
reverberations reaching all over the country. A one-armed ex- 
Confederate soldier named Matthew Stevens who lived in 
Unionville, unable to do other manual labor, had got a horse 
and wagon and was engaged in the hauling business. On 
December 31, 1870, while hauling a barrel of whisky into 
Unionville from a rural distillery, he was met on the road by a 
squad of forty negro militia, under the command of one of their 
regular officers, who stopped him and demanded that he turn 
the barrel of whisky over to them. He declined to do so, ex- 
plaining that it was not his property, but in an effort to placate 
them he did give them a bottle of whisky he had in the wagon. 
This did not appease them, however; and, enraged by his 
refusal to comply with their demand, they fired several shots 
into his wagon. Stevens, terrified, jumped to the ground and 
ran into a negro cabin by the side of the road. The militiamen 
dragged him from this refuge; and, upon the orders of the 
officer in command, three of the negroes took him into the 
near-by woods and killed him, firing a number of shots into 
his head and body. 

It was the testimony of everybody that Stevens was a peace- 
able and well-behaved man, and there seemed to have been 
no reason for killing him except that he was a white man and 
the negro militia had been taught to believe that all white 
men were their enemies. In fact, one negro testified that they 
had started out from their camp that day with the deliberate 
purpose of killing the first white man they encountered, no 
matter who he was. 

This unprovoked murder of an inoffensive and helpless man 
aroused the people of Unionville. Ten members of the militia 
were identified by a witness as being members of the party of 
killers, and they were arrested and lodged in the county jail at 
Unionville — but not until one of them, resisting arrest, had 
mortally wounded a white deputy sheriff. On the night of 

226 Invisible Empire 

January 4 a party of Ku Klux rode into town, surrounded the 
jail and demanded entrance. The jailer had locked the door and 
thrown the key away; but the Ku Klux forced the door, made 
their way to the cells where the prisoners were confined and 
selected five of them, including the captain of the company, 
who had been identified as the ones directly involved in the 
killing of Stevens. 

One of the Klansmen, dressed all in ghostly white, was sta- 
tioned on the steps just outside the jail door; and as the quaking 
prisoners were led out, one by One, their captors would stop and 
inquire of the white-clad sentinel: 'Is this one of the men who 
killed you, Stevens?' The pseudo-Stevens would answer yes; 
and, on the strength of this ghostly identification, the five were 
led away for execution. This stage of the proceedings seems 
to have been bungled, however, as three of the men escaped, 
and only two were shot and killed. 

Following the raid a strong guard of white men was main- 
tained at the jail for some time; but eventually, the excitement 
having apparently subsided, this guard was removed. Mean- 
while the Radical friends of the negro militia were seeking the 
discovery of some device whereby the remaining prisoners might 
escape punishment, and succeeded in getting from Judge 
Thomas, the Federal judge at Columbia, a sort of informal 
order that the prisoners be removed from Unionville and placed 
in his custody there. This was not an actual habeas corpus writ, 
and was generally regarded in Unionville as an irregular pro- 
cedure whereby the negroes were to be spirited away to Co- 
lumbia, released on some sort of straw bail and permitted to 
escape. The bearer of the order for the removal of the negroes 
had been enjoined to secrecy, but the news of the proposed 
transfer quickly leaked out and was the talk of the town. 

On the night of February 1 2 about midnight another squad 
of Ku Klux rode into town, surrounded the jail and placed 
pickets about the square. Entrance to the jail was more easily 

South Carolina 227 

effected on this occasion (the jailer later being accused of being 
a member of the Ku Klux and also a brother-in-law of Stevens) . 
The raiding party of Ku Klux were evidently well organized 
and trained. They rode into town in regular cavalry forma- 
tion, and while they were raiding the jail they posted sentinels 
and kept up communications by couriers riding every few 
minutes, just like a military operation. Estimates as to the size 
of the body of men varied from three hundred to eight hundred, 
and the party was said to have been made up of groups from 
Laurens, Spartanburg, Newberry and York Counties, sum- 
moned by couriers sent out during the day. A Unionville 
physician. Doctor Thompson, returning from a late call, en- 
countered the Ku Klux on the public square, and when he 
discovered their mission he volunteered to tell them that one of 
the negroes held in jail, Jim Hardy, was said to have made an 
effort to have Stevens's life spared, and on this account Doctor 
Thompson thought Hardy should not be executed. The Ku 
Klux leader thanked him for this information, and when en- 
trance to the jail was effected, Jim Hardy's name was called 
and he was left behind when the other eight were taken out 
and killed — two hung and six shot. 

In order that there might be no misunderstanding of the 
cause of this second raid on the jail, the Ku Klux before they 
left Unionville posted the following notice on the courthouse 
bulletin board: 


K K K 


In silence and secrecy, thought has been working, and the 
benignant efficacies of concealment speak for themselves. Once 
again we have been forced by force to use Force. Justice was 
lame, and she had to lean on us. Information being received 

228 Invisible Empire 

that a 'doubting Thomas,' the inferior of nothing, the superior 
of nothing, and of consequence the equal of nothing, who has 
neither eyes to see the scars of oppression nor ears to hear the 
cause of humanity, even though he wears the Judicial silk, had 
ordered some guilty prisoners from Union to the City of Co- 
lumbia and of Injustice and Prejudice, for an unfair trial of life, 
thus clutching at the wheel-spokes of Destiny — then this 
thing was created and projected; otherwise it would never have 
been. We yield to the inevitable and inexorable, and account 
this the best, *Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand 
doeth' is our motto. 

We want peace, but this cannot be until Justice returns. 
We want and will have Justice, but this cannot be until the 
bleeding fight of freedom is fought. Until then this Molock of 
Iniquity will have his victims, even if the Michael of Justice 
must have his martyrs. 


Following the two raids on the Unionville jail the Ku Klux 
continued to make themselves felt in Union County for several 
months, although there were no more killings. On March 9, 
1 87 1, they posted a notice on the courthouse door, headed 
'Special Order No. 3 — K.K.K.,' calling on the members of 
the state legislature from Union County, the school commis- 
sioner and the county commissioners to resign within fifteen 
days, and also demanding that the clerk of the county com- 
mission 'renounce and relinquish' his position by public notice. 
The clerk immediately complied with the demand, publishing 
a notice in the Times stating that he was resigning his office and 
renouncing his connection with the Radical Party, 'in obedience 
to Ku Klux Order No. 3.' 

The Ku Klux Klan was definitely in the saddle in Union and 
in several other of the up-country counties, but such high- 
handed actions could not continue unchallenged. Early in 1870 

South Carolina 229 

the state legislature took official cognizance of the Ku Klux 
disturbances in the state and appointed investigating committees 
in the various congressional districts. The majority reports of 
these committees were strongly condemnatory, as expected; 
but Doctor Javan Bryant, a Republican member of the com- 
mittee investigating the Third District, surprised everybody 
by bringing in a minority report in which he said, in the florid 
rhetoric of the period: 

*No one can fail to be struck, upon reading the evidence 
taken by the committee, with the many vague, incoherent and 
ludicrous accounts given by these poor colored people, many 
of whom were so ignorant as not even to know their own names, 
of the herculean size, hideous proportions and diabolical fea- 
tures of what they called Ku Klux. And it affords me great 
pleasure to be able to report that, after having thoroughly in- 
vestigated the matter, I am of opinion that the ghosts, hob- 
gobHns, jack-o'-the-lanterns and Ku Klux of the Third Congres- 
sional District are but allotropic conditions of the witches of 
New England, whose larvae, having long lain dormant until 
imported hither in the carpetbags of some pious political 
priests, germinated in the too credulous minds of their poor 
proselytes, and loomed into luxuriance in the fertile fields of 
their own imaginations.' 

Doctor Bryant, however, was himself the victim of self- 
delusion if he really believed that the Ku Klux were the mythical 
products of a fevered carpetbagger imagination. That they 
existed in the flesh was amply and grimly demonstrated during 
the summer and fall of 1870, preceding the state election; but 
if the purpose of the Klan was political its work was not signally 
effective, as the Republican ticket swept the field over the 
wreckage of the hybrid Reform Party. The outcome of the 
election was, of course, highly unsatisfactory and disappointing 
to the Democrats, and the result was no more disconcerting 
than the methods by which it was accomplished. The armed 

230 Invisible Empire 

negroes had been insolent and overbearing at the polls, and 
their victory increased their feeling of importance and power. 
On the other hand, the native whites were not only chagrined 
by defeat, but were increasingly fearful of the danger of a 
really sanguinary clash with the armed negroes. 

The day after the election the riot at Laurens took place, 
and when the news of this reached Columbia the two companies 
of negro militia there were immediately mustered and appeared 
on the streets in full uniform, armed and equipped with wagons 
loaded with provisions, ready to start for Laurens. The negroes 
boasted openly that if Governor Scott would give them march- 
ing orders they would move through the country and not leave 
a house standing, and that they would 'sweep even the cradles.' 
They gathered at the Columbia armory and stayed there all 
night, firing occasional volleys down the streets, to the terror 
of the populace. Governor Scott was finally prevailed upon 
to order them to disperse, but the people of Columbia were so 
alarmed that they held a meeting there in a few days, attended 
by about thirty of the leading Democrats of the state, to see 
what could be done. At this meeting it was decided to make 
plans for the organization of local 'Councils of Safety' through- 
out the state, and a proposed constitution for the guidance of 
such councils was adopted, printed and distributed to the 
different counties. 

The constitution stated that 'The objects of this organization 
are, first, to preserve the peace, enforce the laws and protect 
and defend the persons and property of the good people of 
this state; and, second, to labor for the restoration of constitu- 
tional liberty, as taught by our forefathers, and to reform abuses 
in the government, state and national.' It further specified, 
somewhat cryptically, that Tts operations shall be two-fold: 
I. Political, social and moral, under the forms of established 
laws. 2. Physical, according to the recognized principles of 
the law of self-defense.' Membership was limited to 'approved 

South Carolina 231 

white men' above the age of eighteen years; members were to 
be required to take an oath of secrecy and loyalty to the order; 
and further mystery was provided by the specification that 
members were to be designated by letters of the alphabet. 
Copies of the constitution were distributed promiscuously, 
and some of the edge of its secrecy was taken off by the publica- 
tion of the constitution in the Columbia Republican. Only two 
or three scattered councils were ever established, and after they 
were established they did not know exactly what to do, so 
the Council of Safety soon came to nothing. 

Some of the imaginative Republicans professed to believe 
that this was the framework around which the Ku Klux organ- 
ization in South Carolina was built, but there is no foundation 
whatever for this belief The Ku Klux Klan was organized 
in South Carolina two years before the abortive Council of 
Safety movement; furthermore, the latter group did not con- 
template any secrecy as to its existence or the personnel of its 
membership. On the whole, its plan appeared to be immeasur- 
ably more moderate than the current Ku Klux practice. 

The Council of Safety movement was significant as a symptom 
of the prevailing feeling of tension in South Carolina, tension 
existing on both sides. Alarmed by the growing friction and 
disorder. Governor Scott in the latter part of 1870, when a 
resolution was introduced into the legislature authorizing him 
to declare martial law and send troops to Spartanburg, Laurens 
and Union Counties, called into counsel at Columbia a number 
of the leading Democrats of the state to advise him. This group 
included General Kershaw, General McGowan, Gabriel 
Cannon, T. Y. Simmons, editor of the Charleston Courier, and 
other leaders. They were unanimously of the opinion that 
things were drifting dangerously in the direction of a war of the 
races, and that the only preventive would be for the governor 
to disarm and disperse the negro militia and replace some of 
the grossly incompetent public officials with able and honest 

232 Invisible Empire 

men. If these measures were taken, the governor was assured, 
the Democratic leaders would go home and use their exertions 
to preserve the peace, stop violence and put down Ku Klux 
interference with anyone. They all made it clear that they did 
not have any personal knowledge of the Ku Klux; but they 
thought they might be able to help to stop it if the cause were 

There was, as a matter of fact, a growing feeling that the 
excesses committed in the name of the Ku Klux — whether 
bogus or genuine — were making it difficult to compose the 
existing difficulties. Public meetings were held in York, Union 
and Spartanburg Counties deploring the disorders, and promi- 
nent in these meetings were men who had been previously 
suspected of direct or indirect affiliation with the Ku Klux. 
Whether through prudence or fear. Governor Scott soon took 
action to dissolve his malodorous militia and constabulary. 
Simultaneously the Ku Klux disorders ceased, and there were 
no complaints of Ku Klux in South Carolina after May, 1871. 

Meanwhile, however, the outbreaks there had attracted the 
attention of the government at Washington, and on March 24, 
1 87 1, President Grant issued his proclamation addressed to 
the people of South Carolina denouncing 'combinations of 
armed men, unauthorized by law,' and calling on them to 
disperse within twenty days. On April 20 Grant affixed his 
signature to the Ku Klux bill just passed by Congress, and on 
May 3 he issued another proclamation calling special attention 
to it. 

In July the special sub-committee of the Congressional 
Investigating Committee went to South Carolina and began 
to take testimony there. This sub-committee, consisting of 
Senator Scott and Representatives Stevenson and Van Trump, 
spent almost the entire month of July in examining witnesses at 
Columbia, Spartanburg, Union and Yorkville. Of the witnesses 
examined, fifty-three were negroes, described by Mr. Van 

South Carolina 233 

Trump as being 'of the very lowest grade of intelligence be- 
longing to human beings.' No less than thirty-six negroes 
testified at Spartanburg, and while they were in town in at- 
tendance at the hearing they were herded together at the 
post-office under the shepherding of the carpetbagger post- 
master. There was a remarkable uniformity about their testi- 
mony as to what the Ku Klux said and did, all of them being 
careful to express the view that the organization's objects were 
political; and although Mr. Van Trump carefully and courte- 
ously refrained from charging that there had been any coach- 
ing or drilling of the witnesses by his Republican colleagues, 
he did go so far as to say that these ignorant negroes *were just 
the kind of material to be molded at the will and command of 
any unscrupulous white man who had a common purpose with 
them in establishing any given state of facts.' 

While the committee was holding its hearings in Spartan- 
burg, a committee of local citizens was appointed for the purpose 
of suggesting to Mr. Van Trump questions to be asked the 
witnesses when they appeared. The chairman of this com- 
mittee was L. M. Gentry, proprietor of the town's leading 
livery stable and a prominent Democratic leader in the county. 
Some of the witnesses openly charged that Mr. Gentry was a 
member of the Ku Klux and that on the night of big Ku Klux 
raids all the horses in his stable were always mysteriously absent. 
Mr. Gentry, however, not only indignantly denied the accusa- 
tion, but made the countercharge that C. L. Casey, the local 
United States deputy marshal, had been out in the country 
drumming up negro witnesses, telling them that if they would 
go to Spartanburg and testify that they had been outraged 
they would be paid two dollars a day and ten cents a mile for 
mileage — fabulous pay for those days. 

When the sub-committee finished its hearings and returned 
to Washington, Chairman Scott on July 29 wrote a letter to 
President Grant setting forth the revolutionary conditions 

234 Invisible Empire 

alleged to exist in South Carolina and urging the President to 
take prompt action. Mr. Van Trump in a minority report 
expressed the firm conviction that the disorders in South 
Carolina were 'the clearest natural offspring of as corrupt and 
oppressive a system of local state government as ever disgraced 
humanity, and utterly unparalleled in the history of civiliza- 

'No modern instance of wrong and oppression, of robbery 
and usurpation,' he said, 'can approach it in wickedness and 
infamy nor can any people on the face of the globe, not even 
the unhappy Poles in their darkest days of suffering, rival the 
great body of the best citizens of South Carolina for the patient 
(we had almost said abject) forbearance with which they have 
submitted to the infernal persecution of their rulers.' He further 
declared that 'No fair-minded man, we care not what may be 
his prejudices or his party ties, can go down to South Carolina 
and see the practical workings of the system there without 
being driven to the admission that the policy which has made 
a San Domingo of one of the states of the Union is one of the 
most terrible blunders ever committed, one of the most reckless 
and unwise political movements ever inaugurated in a govern- 
ment of fixed laws and constitutions.' 

President Grant, in response to Senator Scott's suggestion, 
ignoring Van Trump's fervent protest, sent Amos T. Akerman, 
the Attorney-General of the United States, to Yorkville to 
confer with Major Lewis Merrill, commander of the United 
States troops stationed there; and Akerman's report, following 
his conference with Major Merrill, fully substantiated all 
Scott's charges. 

Meanwhile the grand jury of York County met at its regular 
term in September to investigate the disordered affairs of the 
county, and Major Merrill, who had boasted that he knew 
the names of a number of active Ku Klux, was urged to appear 
before them and give the evidence he had. Merrill declined, 

South Carolina 235 

basing his declination on some legal technicality; but the real 
and more material reason for his unwillingness to co-operate 
with the state courts was to be divulged later. Despite his 
refusal to co-operate, the Grand Jury did find indictments 
against two men charged with having participated in the 
raid on the county treasurer's office; but no presentment was 
found in the killing of Jim Williams or Tom Roundtree. 

The Radicals in Washington, meanwhile, were continuing 
their pressure on President Grant, and on October 12, 1871, 
he issued a proclamation declaring that 'unlawful combinations 
and conspiracies' existed in the counties of Spartanburg, 
York, Marion, Chester, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Lan- 
caster and Chesterfield, and calling on all persons composing 
these unlawful combinations and conspiracies to disperse 
within five days and to surrender to the United States marshals 
*all arms, ammunition, uniforms, disguises and other means 
and implements used.' (It was called to Grant's attention 
that Marion County must have been mentioned by error, as 
no Ku Klux activities had been reported there; so Union 
County was later quietly substituted for Marion.) It soon 
became apparent that none of the Ku Klux had any idea of 
responding to the invitation to surrender any arms, ammuni- 
tion, uniforms or other implements; so on October 17 the 
President issued another pronunciamento suspending the writ 
of habeas corpus in the counties named, and the Federal 
authorities took over an active investigation of Ku Klux affairs 
in the state. 

President Grant's proclamation focussed the attention of the 
country on South Carolina, and the leading metropolitan 
newspapers sent staff representatives to the state to investigate 
and report. Most of these correspondents sent back the lurid 
and partisan stories expected of them, but some of them gave 
evidence of a sincere effort to make an unbiased study of 
conditions and report them as they found them. The cor- 

236 Invisible Empire 

respondent of the New York Herald, in particular, seemed 
inclined to analyze the situation and paint a true picture of it 
in his dispatches. There were, he pointed out, three distinct 
classes of people in the piedmont region of South Carolina 
where the Ku Klux flourished — *a class of respectable, in- 
telligent men, of limited education; a class of honest, ignorant, 
independent white farmers, owning a little land; and a class of 
low, degraded white men, many of whom are engaged in illicit 
distilling.' A large proportion of the Ku Klux outrages, he 
said, were attributable to this latter class, although he said that 
many members of the first two classes joined the order for 
self-preservation, as the only means of protecting themselves 
from barn-burning and the other terrors to which they were 
subjected under the vicious state government. A good many of 
the illicit distillers, he thought, used the Ku Klux as a cloak 
for their private crimes and misdemeanors; but he expressed 
the further view that it should have been easily possible for the 
state authorities to arrest and convict these criminals without 
suspending the writ of habeas corpus, 'stigmatizing entire 
communities as lawless, and paralyzing the industry of the 

Following the testimony taken by the congressional sub- 
committee at Spartanburg, a large number of those accused 
by the negro witnesses had been arrested, and it was announced 
that several of them had confessed that they were or had been 
members of the Ku Klux. The Herald correspondent had the 
traditional newspaper man's curiosity for getting at the bottom 
of things, and he immediately applied to the United States 
Commissioner for permission to examine these confessions. 
One of them was selected and shown to him, in which the 
confessor stated that his Den had voted the infliction of punish- 
ment on five different persons, for offenses as assigned: a negro 
whipped who had assaulted his former master and beaten him 
almost to death; a negro whipped who had asserted his new- 

South Carolina 237 

found equality by shoving a white man out of his way at an 
election, and had further offended by giving information to a 
revenue officer; two men whipped who were charged with 
robbing a smokehouse; one negro whipped who had boasted 
that when the Yankees came he would go to all the quiltings 
with the white folks and sit beside the white girls, and would 
have him a white wife; another man was charged with having 
stabbed an officer who had a warrant for his arrest, and the 
Ku Klux ordered him whipped, but he could not be found. 

It had been persistently claimed in the North that the 
Ku Klux was purely a poHtical organization; and as this con- 
fession did not seem to bear out that theory, the Herald man 
asked the Commissioner to let him examine all of them and 
make a list of the causes assigned for the punishments infficted. 
This the Commissioner declined, which naturally aroused the 
newspaper man's suspicions as to what was in the confessions, 
and he wrote an article in the Herald so stating. 

This New York correspondent, after completing his investi- 
gation of conditions in Spartanburg County, published the 
following summary of his findings: 

Tirst. That for four months past no Ku Klux outrages have 
been committed in Spartanburg County, which the Federal 
officials admit. 

'Second. That the Ku Klux organization was originally 
formed for the self-protection of its members, and not for any 
special political purpose. 

Third. That men of infamous character entered the Ku 
Klux organization and perpetrated a series of gross outrages 
upon individuals. 

Tourth. That in many instances white and black Radicals 
borrowed the disguise of the Ku Klux and outraged their 
neighbors, knowing that the blame would not be laid upon 

Tifth. That if the state government of South Carolina had 

238 . Invisible Empire 

not been, as it still is, in the hands of corrupt and infamous 
political adventurers, and had the laws of the state been fairly 
and impartially administered, public sentiment would have 
crushed the Ku Klux organization in its incipiency. 

*Sixth. That there was not any necessity for the suspension 
of the writ of habeas corpus,' because there was not at any time 
any disposition on the part of the citizens to resist the warrants 
of arrest. Every white man in Spartanburg County could have 
been arrested by a deputy marshal's posse. 

^Seventh. That the Ku Klux, while formidable in numbers, 
perhaps, never entertained the idea of resisting the United 
States Government. If its designs were treasonable it could, 
in a single night, have overpowered and annihilated the entire 
military force in this county. 

'Eighth. That the effect of the present movement is dangerous 
to the future of the Union. It has revived old animosities, re- 
awakened slumbering sentiments, and embittered the whites, 
not only in the nine counties, but throughout South Carolina 
and the South generally.' 

After the passage of nearly seventy years, and in the light of 
all the knowledge subsequently available, it is hard to improve 
on this as a restrained and lucid statement of Ku Klux condi- 
tions in South Carolina at that time. 

With martial law in effect, the military forces had been busily 
engaged in drag-netting the up-country counties for Ku Klux 
suspects. Squads of cavalry were sent out to arrest them, 
generally at night and without warrants and without observance 
of the prisoners' right to know the cause of their arrest. The 
total of those arrested mounted into large numbers — more 
than fifteen hundred. There were one hundred and ninety-five 
in Yorkville alone, who were taken to Columbia and there re- 
leased under heavy bail. In Union County some two hundred 
were arrested; there were several hundred in Spartanburg; 
some in Chester and some in Newberry and other counties. 

South Carolina 239 

Most of those released on bail were never brought to trial. 
For instance, forty citizens of Laurens were arrested on account 
of the riot there, and all of them were bailed and never 

The wholesale arrests terrified a number of those who were 
really members of the Ku Klux, and several of them pre- 
cipitately fled from the state. Among the refugees was Doctor 
J. Rufus Bratton, a leading physician of York County, who had 
been active among those protesting against the disorders of 
the negro militia and who was very strongly suspected of 
being a member of the Ku Klux — which he probably was. 
At any rate, when the soldiers took possession of Yorkville, 
Doctor Bratton quietly departed for London, Ontario, and 
took up the practice of medicine there; and out of this there 
almost developed an international incident. The Radicals 
were particularly eager for Doctor Bratton's scalp; and in 
the summer of 1872 he was seized in the night-time by two 
Canadian private detectives in the pay of the United States 
Government officers. They gagged and bhndfolded Doctor 
Bratton and took him across the boundary Hne onto American 
soil, where he was delivered into the custody of two United 
States marshals who hustled him back to Yorkville, where he 
was placed under a ten- thousand-dollar bail bond. The of- 
ficials of the Canadian Government were indignant at this 
high-handed kidnapping of a resident of their country, and 
the British Government made formal protest to Washington. 
The justice of the British protest was recognized, and Doctor 
Bratton was released from his bond and permitted to return 
to Ontario, where he continued the practice of his profession 
until 1876, when the Federal troops were withdrawn fi-om 
South Carolina. He then went back to Yorkville and spent 
the rest of his life there, and no case was ever brought against 
him in any court. In the meantime, incidentally, the mills 
of Canadian justice had been grinding fine, and the two detec- 

240 Invisible Empire 

tives who had kidnapped Doctor Bratton were arrested, tried 
and sent to prison. 

The Ku Klux trials in South Carolina attracted widespread 
attention all over the country. The first batch of defendants 
were arraigned in Columbia at the winter term of the Circuit 
Court of the United States on November 28, 1871, with the 
Honorable Hugh L. Bond of Baltimore, circuit judge, and 
the Honorable George S. Bryan of Charleston, district judge, 
jointly presiding. The government was represented by District 
Attorney D. T. Corbin of Vermont, assisted by D. H. Chamber- 
lain, the attorney-general of South Carolina. Judge Bond's 
handling of the Ku Klux trials in North CaroHna had not 
contributed anything to his reputation for fairness and im- 
partiality, and a fund of ten thousand dollars was raised by 
popular subscription (with some help from Ku Klux in other 
states) to pay additional legal talent to assist the local lawyers 
retained by such of the defendants as were able to hire lawyers. 
Accordingly two distinguished attorneys appeared in court in 
behalf of the Ku Klux: the Honorable Reverdy Johnson of 
Maryland and the Honorable Henry Stanbery of Ohio, who 
had respectively filled the office of Attorney-General in the 
cabinets of Presidents Taylor and Johnson. On the grand jury 
which returned the indictments there were six whites and 
twenty-one negroes., the foreman being a carpetbagger Meth- 
odist preacher. Of the panel summoned for the trial jury one, 
C. H. Bankhead, later turned up as a spy and witness for the 
government; but he and eleven negroes constituted the jury by 
which one of the defendants, John S. Millar, was tried. The 
first case tried, which was typical of all of them, was that of 
Robert Hayes Mitchell. His jury consisted of eleven negroes 
and one white Republican. 

The government's case against all these defendants rested 
largely on the testimony of confessed members of the Ku Klux, 
foremost among whom were Kirkland L. Gunn and Charles 

South Carolina 241 

W. Foster. Gunn and Foster, along with some of the other 
recusants, were given immunity as a reward for their testi- 
mony; and it was also charged that they had been paid foi 
their services in sums ranging from two hundred to thirty-five 
hundred dollars, but this was denied. The government also 
introduced in its evidence an alleged copy of the constitution 
of the order supplied Major Merrill by Samuel G. Brown, who 
confessed that he was a member of the Klan. When placed 
on the stand, however, Brown refused to implicate other mem- 
bers of the order, and he was consequently fined one thousand 
dollars and sentenced to five years in prison. 

The whole number of persons convicted in the South CaroHna 
trials was fifty-five, of whom only five were actually placed on 
trial — Robert Hayes Mitchell, John W. Mitchell, Doctor 
Thomas B. Whitesides, Samuel G. Brown and Doctor Edward 
T. Avery. The last-named defendant, incidentally, escaped 
punishment by the simple procedure of coolly walking out of 
the courthouse and disappearing during a recess in his trial. 
A large number of those pleading guilty and throwing them- 
selves on the mercy of the court were immature, ignorant young 
men, and they received prison sentences of from three to 
eighteen months, along with fines. 

At the April, 1872, term of the Federal Court in Charleston 
there were further trials. Some of the defendants pleaded guilty; 
and there were twenty-eight sentences in all, with prison terms 
ranging from three months to ten years and fines from ten to 
one thousand dollars. At the November, 1872, term of court 
in Columbia there were still more trials, with nine sentences. 

Efforts were made by the defendants' counsel to have four 
of the South Carolina cases carried to the Supreme Court of 
the United States to test the constitutionality of the Ku Klux 
law, but each time the effort failed on account of some tech- 
nicality, and the ultimate result was that the validity of this 
law was never officially passed on by the nation's highest court. 

242 Invisible Empire 

In the summer of 1873 President Grant let it be known that 
he was wilHng to extend amnesty to all the convicted Ku Klux 
whose fellow-citizens and neighbors applied for their pardon; 
and so, one by one, all of the Ku Klux prisoners were eventually 

A malodorous repercussion of the South Carolina trials 
developed in 1873 when the state legislature made an appropri- 
ation of thirty-five thousand dollars to pay the rewards offered 
by Governor Scott in the summer of 187 1 when he authorized 
the payment of two hundred dollars for the arrest and convic- 
tion of Ku Klux under the Federal law. It then developed that 
Major Merrill's unwillingness to co-operate with the state 
authorities and his zeal for prosecution under the Federal law 
grew out of this prospect of a monetary reward. Major Merrill 
was a practical man who did not wish to give away his informa- 
tion without remuneration in a local court when it had a cash 
value in the Federal Court. He collected a total of twenty 
thousand dollars from the state in the way of Ku Klux rewards; 
and although there was a considerable raising of eyebrows at 
the ethics involved in such conduct on the part of a United 
States Army officer. Major Merrill found the twenty thousand 
dollars ample salve against the slings and arrows of his ultra- 
ethical critics. 



E CONSTRUCTION IN ARKANSAS presented some unusual 
features, growing out of the peculiarly involved political condi- 
tions prevailing in that state at the close of the war. 

As early as the latter part of 1863 a sufficient portion of 
Arkansas territory was in the hands of the Federals to justify the 
Union men in the laying of plans for the establishment of a new 
pro-Union state government. Accordingly, a state constitutional 
convention assembled in Little Rock on January 4, 1864; and as 
a result of this meeting there was set up a wobbly sort of pro- 
visional government with Isaac Murphy, a strong Union man, 
bearing the title of governor. Murphy managed to hold to- 
gether some semblance of a state government during the closing 
days of the war, although its legitimacy was vociferously derided 
by all those loyal to the Southern cause. 

After the close of the war, however, the ex-Confederates and 
other Democrats of Arkansas surprisingly decided that the most 
expedient pohtical course for them to pursue was to give open 
espousal to the Murphy government, but to concentrate their 
energies upon the election of a Democratic majority in both 
houses of the state legislature which would serve to handcuff the 
hostile governor. They were successful in carrying out this plan 
at the biennial election held in 1866, there being at that time in 
Arkansas no restriction of the right of the ex-Confederates to vote. 

244 Invisible Empire 

As soon as it convened, this newly elected state legislature 
sent a commission to Washington to confer with the Federal 
Government regarding the admission of the state's representa- 
tives to Congress, as a first step in the readmission of Arkansas 
to the Union. The Federal authorities were non-committal, 
but the commission came back home encouraged, and in its 
report to the legislature sought to impress upon the citizens of 
Arkansas 'the importance, the absolute necessity, of remaining 
quiet, of preserving good order, and a quiet submission to and a 
rigid enforcement of the law everywhere within the limits of the 

The commission quoted a newspaper editorial of similar tone 
which said: 'If there ever was a time in the history of the people 
when they had everything to gain by being perfectly quiet and 
impassive under the bluster and threats of a certain class of 
politicians, that time is at hand in the South. There is no provo- 
cation which should induce them to lose their self-possession and 
make imprudent or passionate remarks. They should allow the 
Butlers, the Stevenses and the Sumners to do all the bullying. 
They should listen to the violent harangues of these men with 
perfect equanimity. They should exhibit no antagonism to 
these chiefs of crimination against their section.' 

In conclusion, the report said: Tf we demonstrate by our 
conduct, our prudence and our silence, that we are pursuing 
our private interests without detriment to anyone, and that we 
are determined not to regard the calumnies of our enemies, the 
great mass of the people of the North will see that these mischief- 
makers have deceived them and will change their tone with 
reference to our people.' 

The Butlers and the Stevenses and the Sumners, however, 
were not to be lulled into tolerant inaction by this program of 
passive non-resistance. On the contrary, within less than three 
weeks they had forced through Congress those Reconstruction 
Acts which showed very clearly their determination to treat the 

Arkansas 245 

Southern States as conquered provinces, and which opened the 
eyes of the Southern people as to the futiHty of their hopes for a 
quiet and peaceful re-entry into the Union. 

Encouraged by the registration and franchise provisions of the 
new laws, the Union men of Arkansas — including the carpet- 
baggers, the scalawags and the newly enfranchised negroes — 
speedily set to work to organize the Republican Party in the 
state, and at a convention in Little Rock in April, 1867, nomi- 
nated a slate of Republican candidates for all the state offices. 
With practically all the Democratic voters disfranchised by the 
new laws, the Republicans had litde trouble in sweeping to 
victory. At that time there were 94,500 men of voting age in 
Arkansas — 70,000 native whites, 23,000 negroes and 1500 
carpetbaggers; but so efficient was the Radical machine that 
they were able to elect 82 out of 83 members of the state legis- 
lature. On July 2, 1868, there was established a new state 
government, overwhelmingly controlled by the Radicals, with 
carpetbagger Powell Clayton at its head as governor. Governor 
Clayton was a shrewd and determined partisan who was 
cordially detested by the native population, and during his 
term of office Arkansas experienced an era of tumult and dis- 
order the like of which it had never seen before and has not 
seen since. 

The enactment of the Reconstruction Acts by Congress was 
followed almost immediately by the appearance of the Ku Klux 
Klan in Arkansas. The disfranchised people were chagrined at 
their mistreatment and apprehensive of trouble; and when 
General Forrest came over into Arkansas from Memphis with 
the new Ku Klux Klan idea and enlisted the assistance of the 
influential Albert Pike in its establishment in the state, he found 
willing ears for his story of the new defensive device which had 
been developed in Middle Tennessee. A better promoter of 
the idea than General Pike could not have been found, and 
during the month of April, 1868, there were increasing mani- 

246 Invisible Empire 

festations of the activities of the strange, new order throughout 
the eastern part of the state. Hooded figures were to be seen 
riding the highways at night, and notices began to appear — 
pubHshed in the newspapers or tacked on trees and doors — 
couched in the stilted, grandiloquent and terrifying phraseology 
which characterized all the official pronouncements of the Klan. 
As early as April 6 there was published in the Pine Bluff Republi- 
can the following notice, said to have been found posted in that 

K K K 

Corinth Division 
Pine Bluff Retreat 

Special Order No. 2. 

Spirit Brothers; Shadows of Martyrs; Phantoms from 
gory fields; Followers of Brutus!!!!! Rally, rally, rally. 
— When shadows gather, moons grow dim, and stars 
tremble, glide to the Council Hall and wash your hands in 
tyrants' blood; and gaze upon the list of condemned 
traitors. The time has arrived. Blood must flow. The true 
must be saved. 

Work in Darkness 

Bury in waters 

Make no sound 

Trust not the air 

Strike High and Sure 

Vengeance! Vengeance! Vengeance! 

Tried, condemned. Execute well. Fear is dead. Every 
man is a judge and this executes !!!!!! Fail not! ! 

Mandate of the 

M. G. G. 
By D.M.G.G. 12 m p 2. 

Arkansas 247 

There was at first an inclination on the part of the Radical 
newspapers to minimize and ridicule the Ku Klux Klan and its 
potentialities. The editor of the Pine Bluff Republican, which 
reprinted this warning notice, in an editorial on May 16 sneered: 
'This nefarious and despicable so-called organization is nothing 
but gas; it is heard of a great many times and at different 

places; but is never seen As to the organization being 

formidable or substantial, it is all stuff. You might take a pair 
of General Sherman's old boots for a commander and three 
hundred monkeys armed with cornstalks and run the last one of 
them out of the country.' 

Contrary to this belittling opinion, however, the Ku Klux 
increased with the greatest rapidity once they got started, and 
in the course of a few months had spread terror throughout the 
eastern part of the state. In November, 1868, the alarmed 
Governor Clayton sent a special message to the state legislature 
then in session, opening his message with the stark declaration: 
*We are in the midst of civil commotion.' He then went on to 
describe the development of what he called 'a deep-laid con- 
spiracy' to overthrow the lawful authority of the state by means 
of a 'treasonable organization having its ramifications in many 
parts of the state,' enumerating a long list of alleged acts of Ku 
Klux violence in the counties of Ashley, Columbia, Lafayette, 
Sevier, Little River, Monroe, Crittenden, Woodruff, Craighead, 
Fulton, Conway, White and Drew. 'In these and other coun- 
ties,' the Governor said, 'a reign of terror' was being carried on 
which was tending in the direction of 'anarchy and destruction.' 

Commenting later on these alleged acts of the Ku Klux in 
various parts of the state. Governor Clayton said: 'There were 
no successful efforts made by the civil authorities to arrest, 
much less to prosecute, the perpetrators of the crimes referred to. 
This may be explained, first, by the fact that the Ku Klux ter- 
rorized the officers whose duty it was to execute the laws; 
second, by the ease with which one or more members of the Ku 

248 Invisible Empire 

Klux organization could get themselves summoned to appear 
on juries; third, by the inactivity of officers who were either in- 
efficient or who themselves belonged to the organization. It 
proved to be absolutely impossible for the state authorities, 
in the face of the ingenious Ku Klux means to block their 
operations, to bring any member of the Klan to justice through 
ordinary criminal proceedings, no matter what the crime might 
be with which he was charged. The question resolved itself into 
a plain proposition: Should the Ku Klux organization rule 
Arkansas, or should its members be made subservient to the 
laws of the state? Of course the Ku Klux set up no claim to 
constitutional authority; but, declaring that the government of 
Arkansas was "unconstitutional, null and void," and that no 
man was bound to respect it, the Klan assumed powers that 
plunged at least thirteen counties of the state into conditions of 
anarchy. As a last resort, the declaration of martial law and the 
suspension of the writ of habeas corpus became inevitable.' 

Accordingly, proceeding on this recitation of Ku Klux terror- 
ism as a justification. Governor Clayton announced the declara- 
tion of martial law in the affected parts of the state; and one of 
his first acts was to proceed with the organization of a state 
militia force, composed principally of negroes and irresponsible 
white men. The state of Arkansas at this time had no supply of 
arms of its own; and, efforts to obtain arms from the govern- 
ment at Washington being unsuccessful, Clayton arranged to 
purchase in the North four thousand stands of arms, with 
corresponding ammunition, to be brought to Littie Rock from 

In some way the guns were misrouted to Memphis; and when 
Governor Clayton endeavored to have them brought on to 
Little Rock, via Helena, by some of the packets regularly in the 
river trade, he found that all of the Southern steamboat captains 
were unwilling to handle the unholy cargo. So the Governor 
chartered a steamboat, the Hesper, to go to Memphis and get the 

Arkansas 249 

guns; and on October 15, 1868, the Hesper put out from Memphis 
for Helena with its trouble-making load. It was openly charged 
in Memphis at the time that a local carpetbagger named Bar- 
bour Lewis had negotiated the sale of the guns, purchasing 
them in Detroit for seventy cents each, they being left-over army 
rifles, and selHng them to Clayton for $27.50 each, thus turning 
a more or less honest penny for himself while at the same time 
supplying the negro militia with guns with which to intimidate 
the white people. This little detail, however, was beside the 
point. The principal anxiety of the native citizens of Memphis 
at the time was to do something to prevent the guns from 
reaching their destination, and there was a buzz of activity 
among the Memphians suspected of belonging to the Ku Klux 
Klan. There was a big society ball scheduled to be held in the 
old Overton Hotel in Memphis that night; and late in the after- 
noon an astonishingly large number of the young ladies who 
were preparing to attend received communications from their 
prospective escorts that on account of a sudden emergency they 
would be a little late in calhng for them that evening. 

Before the Ku Klux could get into action, however, the 
Hesper hauled in her gangplank and started down the river; but 
she was hardly out of sight around the first bend before a 
hundred masked men descended on the tug Nettie Jones under 
Captain John Ford at the Fort Pickering wharf in Memphis, 
commandeered the tug and set out in pursuit of the Hesper. 
They came up with her at Cat Island, twenty-five miles down 
the river, where she was taking on wood; and, without cere- 
mony, they ran alongside her and quickly took possession. Me- 
thodically the boarding Ku Klux subdued the captain and crew 
and then went about the task of breaking open the gun cases 
and throwing all the guns and ammunition into the muddy 
water of the Mississippi. A few shots were fired during the 
course of the proceedings, just to show that they meant business, 
but nobody was hurt, and as soon as their task was finished the 

250 Invisible Empire 

Ku Klux set the Hesper adrift and started back towards Memphis 
in the Nettie Jones. 

When the Nettie Jones reached President's Island Chute, 
about eight miles below Memphis, she was hailed by some men 
on the Tennessee bank of the river and Captain Ford was 
ordered to land on the island. A masked man in a skiff then 
pulled out to the island and, three at a time, took all the sea- 
going Ku Klux ashore. Their horses had been hid in a near-by 
canebrake, and the young men quickly doffed their disguises, 
mounted their horses and made their way back to the city. 

There were an unusually large number of couples who did 
not arrive at the ball until a very late hour that night, and 
some of the usually immaculate young dandies had flecks of mud 
on their boots. But the Memphians had learned not to ask 
questions about the mysterious nocturnal excursions of their 
young men. The ball was a big success, and everybody was 
mightily surprised when they read in the Avalanche next morning 
the news of the Hesper' s misadventure. 

Governor Clayton exploded in a fulmination of rage and 
protest when he learned of the fate of his precious rifles. *It's 
piracy!' he cried; the Radical newspapers in Memphis re-echoed 
the cry; and the Northern press joined in the chorus. The New 
York Tribune sent a correspondent to Memphis to investigate 
the matter, and in its issue of November 2 it presented an ex- 
tensive summary of the details of the affair, in which it 

*That General Forrest himself in person commanded the 
expedition that committed the late piratical destruction of the 
Arkansas arms is now the general belief of Memphis Republi- 
cans. There are several reasons for this: First — He is recog- 
nized as the leader of the organization, proof sufficient of which 
is found in his own admissions in his famous "big talk" some 
time ago. Second — Of all men believed connected with the 
organization no man, from his well-known characteristics, 



would be so likely to be called upon to lead so desperate a 
venture as General N. B. Forrest. Third — It has been re- 
ported that the day before the outrage he "wanted to find five 
hundred desperate men." Fourth — The description given by 
the crew of the Steamer Hesper of the Ku Klux leader on the 
tug is as follows: "A very large, well-dressed man, very broad 
shouldered, a little stooping as he walked, and having a sharp, 
quick voice." Now, give this description to any man in Mem- 
phis and he will at once select General Forrest. The command 
of the land forces on the Tennessee side is ascribed by the know- 
ing ones to no less a personage than Mr. J. J. DuBose, reputed 
adjutant general of the organization for West Tennessee. This 
gentleman will hardly deny that on the evening of the piracy 
he went from his room with two revolvers buckled about his 
waist and a revolving carbine wrapped up in a blanket, his 
avowed purpose being to go out of town on the midnight train. 
He is next heard of riding out of town in the direction of the 
scene of the piracy. Returning to his room before day, his 
clothes and boots are covered with mud as though he had been 
out on a night campaign.' 

An attempt to minimize the effect of this accusation was made 
by the Public Ledger of Memphis next day in an editorial re- 
joinder in which it said: 'That General Forrest was at home 
during the night on which these arms were destroyed is known 
to over fifty persons.' And the Memphis editor then went on 
indignantly to vilify Horace Greeley, editor of the Tribune, as 
*a political demagogue and harlot of the most abandoned order,' 
who was 'endeavoring to induce the people of the North to be- 
lieve that there exists an organization called "the Ku Klux 
Klan" whose avowed object is to overturn the government and 
divide the Union.' 

Granting that General Forrest's alibi must be taken with a 
large-sized grain of salt, it is obvious that the expedition against 
the Hesper was led by someone of ability and experience in 

252 Invisible Empire 

commanding men. There was a strong feeling in Memphis, at 
that time and for many years afterward, that the actual leader 
of the boarding party was Luke E. Wright; and though he never 
actually admitted it, there seems to be strong reason for believing 
that he was. The War Department took cognizance of the 
matter and offered a reward of five thousand dollars for the 
discovery of the identity of the pirates or their leader, but the 
reward was never claimed. Years later, when General Wright 
was Secretary of War in President Taft's Cabinet, some slyly 
humorous person suggested to the Secretary that he, being a 
Memphis man, might be able to ferret out the Hesper mystery 
and claim the five thousand dollars reward which was still 
officially outstanding. General Wright, however, is quoted as 
replying with a question: 'Wouldn't a man be a damned fool to 
pay out a reward for the arrest of himself?' And that is as near 
as the mystery came to being solved. 

But, although misfortune overtook this effort to arm his 
motley militia. Governor Clayton finally succeeded in enUsting 
a force of state troops who were able to supply their own arms; 
and meanwhile he had been persisting doggedly in his efforts to 
ferret out the Ku Klux organization and end its depredations in 
the state. All his efforts in this direction, however, were unsuc- 
cessful until fate played into his hands. In September, 1868, 
there came to the Governor's home one night a man whom he 
in his reminiscences does not identify by name but guardedly 
calls *a mysterious stranger.' The stranger insisted upon seeing 
Clayton alone upon Very important business'; and, after being 
admitted, stated that he was in position to impart very valuable 
information relative to the Ku Klux organization in Arkansas. 
His proposal was that, after he had conveyed the information, 
if the Governor considered it of sufficient value, he would give 
the informer three hundred dollars to cover the expense of re- 
moving himself and his family from the state, also exacting the 
requirement that the Governor must give his pledge not to 

Arkansas 253 

divulge his name. The Governor agreed to all this; and then, as 
he tells it: 

*He then informed me that he was the Cyclops of a certain 
Ku Klux Den in Independence County; that he joined the 
Klan believing its purpose to be protective against negro 
aggression and politically a harmless adjunct to the Democratic 
party in its efforts to carry the forthcoming elections; but its 
usurpations of power, including those that controlled life and 
death, and the shocking outrages committed by it throughout 
the state, had convinced him that the day of exposure was near 
and that when that day came he intended, with his family, to be 
safely located beyond the jurisdiction of the state and the reach 
of the long arm of the avenging Klan.' 

The renegade Cyclops then gave Clayton a copy of the 
printed Ku Klux ritual and explained all its provisions. He 
also told him of the Klan's operations in neighboring counties, 
and gave him such information as would enable the Governor's 
secret agents to gain admittance to Ku Klux Dens throughout 
the sphere of its activities. Clayton promptly organized a 
secret-service force of twelve men who were assigned to the duty 
of capitalizing on the information imparted by the 'mysterious 
stranger,' and to them was assigned the dangerous duty of 
gaining access to the Ku Klux Dens in the localities allotted to 
them. These spies accomplished their work with varying 
degrees of success; and one of them, Albert H. Parker, met a 
tragic end which created a tremendous stir. 

Parker was a native of New York State who had drifted to the 
Southwest before the war and had served, with more or less 
unwillingness, in the Confederate army. Following the war he 
settled in Kansas, and after Clayton was elected governor he 
moved to Arkansas and applied to the new governor for a job. 
It was about this time that Clayton was given the benefit of the 
revelations of the Klan's inner workings by the turncoat Cy- 
clops, and Parker was given employment as an under-cover 

254 Invisible Empire 

man to go to Searcy in White County and uncover the activities 
of the Ku Klux in that district. 

Aided by the information he had been given regarding the 
Klan's operations and methods, together with his record as a 
Confederate soldier, Parker soon ingratiated himself sufficiently 
into the confidence of the Searcy natives to gain a dangerously 
accurate impression of the personnel of the Ku Klux organiza- 
tion in that section. He wrote to Governor Clayton that he 
had found that General Forrest was the head of the entire 
Invisible Empire, and also gave him the names and official 
positions held by the key men in the local organization — 
General Dandridge McRae, he said, was the Grand Titan of 
the Dominion; Colonel Jacob Froelich, editor of the Searcy 
Gazette, the Grand Giant of the Province (White County); 
James W. Russell, Grand Cyclops of the Searcy Den, with 
W. N. Brundridge as his Grand Magi and LeRoy L. Burrow as 
the Grand Monk. He also reported that John M. McCauley 
was serving as a sort of adjutant to General McRae and was 
actively engaged in organizing new Dens throughout the 
Grand Titan's Dominion. 

When he first arrived in Searcy, Parker represented himself 
as being there for the purpose of buying horses and cattle; 
but when he remained there several weeks without buying any, 
the natives began to suspect his motives. Accordingly he was 
subjected to a quiet counter-espionage by the Ku Klux. All his 
movements were closely watched, and his outgoing mail was 
intercepted by the local postmaster, who was a member of the 
Klan. Thus the native Ku Klux discovered to their horror that 
they had been nurturing a spy in their midst, and that he was 
on the eve of returning to Little Rock to report the names of all 
those whose identity as members of the Klan he had discovered. 

A meeting of the local Den was promptly called. The 
members were thoroughly alarmed, and justifiably so. If 
Parker was permitted to return to Little Rock and make his 

Arkansas 255 

report to the Governor, and then testify in court against the Ku 
Klux whose names he had discovered, it probably meant death 
to them. They decided that there was but one course for them 
to pursue; it was decreed that Parker's Hps must be forever 

The next evening the unsuspecting spy was encountered by 
one of the members of the Klan, innocently carrying a water 
bucket on his arm, who invited him to walk with him to the 
near-by town spring to get a bucket of water. Arrived at the 
spring, they found four other members of the Ku Klux lounging 
there; and as Parker walked up they all drew their pistols and 
one of them placed his hand on his shoulder and told him he was 
under arrest. After searching him for weapons, which he did not 
have, and gagging him with a knotted handkerchief, they 
marched the terrified Parker off to a secluded spot by an old 
well on an abandoned farm about three quarters of a mile away. 
Before arriving at the well, the members of the party stopped 
and assumed their Ku Klux disguises; and then announced to 
Parker that he was a prisoner of the Ku Klux Klan. 

*Did you ever see any Ku Klux before?' they asked him. 
Parker, in a feeble effort at conciliation, said that he had been 
looking for some Ku Klux, that he wanted to join them. 'Yes,' 
said the leader of the party, 'we thought you had been looking 
for us, judging from the letters you have been writing back to 
Little Rock.' Parker denied writing any such letters; but they 
had the documentary evidence, and they cut his parley short by 
telling him that he had been condemned to die, that he had but 
a short while to live, and that if he had anything to say he had 
better be at it. Parker then broke down and confessed that he 
was a spy, but he begged for his life, saying that if they would 
spare him he would agree to kill any Radical in White County 
whom they might designate. 

'If you agreed to kill every Radical in Arkansas it wouldn't 
save you now,' they told him. 'You know too much.' Parker 

256 Invisible Empire 

still protested, but his protests were cut short by their telling 
him that the time for his execution had come. 'If you want to 
pray before you die you may do so,' he was considerately told. 
Parker, however, said that he had never prayed in his life and 
asked that they pray for him. One of them kindly consented to 
perform this last service for the victim; they all knelt on the 
ground; and at the conclusion of the courtly Klansman's heav- 
enly petition they all rose to their feet except Parker, who re- 
mained kneeling, sunk in abject and trembling terror. Un- 
deterred, however, the Ku Klux went about their deadly work. 
The Klansmen lined up in the formation of a firing squad, the 
leader gave the command to fire, and they blazed away in 
unison. As soon as the breath had left it Parker's body was 
picked up and thrown into the abandoned well. 'Work in 
Darkness; Bury in Water,' the edict had said. In Parker's case 
its fulfillment was literal and complete. 

The next day the local hotel-keeper announced that his erst- 
while guest had disappeared — had left between suns without 
paying his board bill, was the way the Searcy Boniface expressed 
it, going on to say that he was not surprised, as it was not un- 
usual for strangers to treat him that way. Governor Clayton, of 
course, was alarmed at the disappearance of his agent, and had 
a strong suspicion as to what had occurred. There was not a 
shred of evidence, however, to connect the Ku Klux with the 
spy's disappearance, and as the months wore on it seemed that 
it would be recorded as another unsolved mystery. 

It was not until eighteen months later that the mystery was 
solved, and then it was the result of the voluntary confession of 
a youthful member of the party of Ku Klux executioners, John 
M. McCauley, upon whose conscience the bloody dead lay 
heavy. Upon learning of his confession, Clayton sent a detail of 
his Governor's Guard to Searcy, and McCauley, LeRoy Bur- 
row, William L. Edwards and John G. Holland were arrested, 
charged with the murder. Burrow joined McCauley in turning 

Arkansas 257 

state's evidence; under oath they told the gruesome story of 
Parker's execution; and the decomposed body was exhumed 
from the well. 

Edwards and Holland were held in jail in Little Rock without 
bail. General McRae and Colonel Froelich, alarmed by the dis- 
closure of their connection with the Klan, fled the country — 
just ahead of Governer Clayton's offer of a reward of five hun- 
dred dollars for the arrest of either of them as an accessory to 
Parker's death. Meanwhile the friends of the imperiled Titan 
and Giant became active, and a political deal was hatched up 
between the Democrats and the so-called Brindle-tail Republi- 
cans whereby the Democrats agreed not to put out a state ticket 
in 1872 if the Brindle-tails would consent to the acquittal of the 
accused Ku Klux. Informed of this deal, McRae and Froelich 
returned to Arkansas and gave bond for their appearance, and 
the other prisoners were then released on bail also. When the 
accused men were finally brought to trial, the prosecuting 
attorney, as per the arrangement, announced that his witnesses 
had scattered and asked for a continuance. This was refused, 
the trial proceeded and, in the absence of sufficient evidence to 
convict, the prisoners were officially acquitted and set free. 

Governor Clayton was furious, naturally enough, and fumed 
that he should never have entrusted the matter to the doubtful 
processes of the civil law but should have had the prisoners 
tried before a mihtary commission, which could have been 
depended on to convict the accused. The application of martial 
law was now being pressed more rigorously than ever, and a 
condition bordering on civil war soon developed in some 
sections between the state troops on one side and the Ku Klux 
and their sympathizers on the other. * Clayton's Militia' be- 
came an epithet in the mouths of the people antagonistic to the 
carpetbagger state government; and the depredations of the 
militia, white and negro, stirred the Ku Klux to new degrees of 
boldness in their activities. 

258 Invisible Empire 

When martial law was declared and the militia began as- 
sembling at their appointed places of rendezvous in the different 
sections of the state, the Ku Klux prepared boldly to meet and 
oppose the troops in an organized way. As the militia as- 
sembled at Murfreesboro under General Catterson and Major 
Denby, the Ku Klux gathered a force of two hundred men at 
near-by Center Point, and soon had five hundred more men on 
the march headed that way. The military organization of the 
state troops, however, proved superior to the loose discipline of 
the Ku Klux; and when the soldiers moved on Center Point the 
Klan retreated after the exchange of a few volleys. The 
militia occupied a building in the upper story of which they 
found the Ku Klux uniforms stored, and also captured several 
members of the order. So afraid of the dread 'Clayton's Militia* 
were the people that most of the citizens abandoned their 
homes and camped out during the troops' occupation of the 
town. The Klansmen continued their opposition as long as the 
militia remained in that section, but their efforts at open, 
armed warfare were abandoned. 

The militia, however, did not stay their hand. They roamed 
the country, destroying property and indiscriminately taking 
prisoners, whom they mistreated and tortured. In January, 
1869, a news item in a Memphis paper from Selma in Drew 
County related that *On Friday night about twenty of Catter- 
son's thieves entered this place and completely gutted the town,' 
stealing merchandise from the stores to the value of six thousand 
and eight hundred dollars. Hamburg in Ashley County and 
Warren in Bradley County, it was stated, 'have been sacked in 
a similar manner by Catterson's cut- throats.' In Selma, it was 
said, the militiamen broke down the stores' doors with axes; and 
when a frightened storekeeper heard the racket at his door and 
called out: 'Who is there?' he was answered: 'The State Guard, 
God damn you.' On the same night they also robbed two stores 
at Monticello; and the newspaper correspondent concluded his 

Arkansas 259 

story by saying: *Catterson and his thieves are on their way to 
Little Rock, where they ought to be — in the penitentiary.' 

The operations of Clayton's Militia degenerated into such an 
orgy of bloodshed and disorder that the Governor himself later 
felt impelled to attempt to explain and make apology for it. 
'Some evils have resulted from the occupancy of counties by 
martial law,' he admitted, but he minimized these evils and said: 
'In some cases unauthorized bands of men pretending to be 
militia forces have committed depredations, robbing and 
plundering citizens indiscriminately, but this evil was stopped 
and checked altogether ... by an order . . . directing the citizens 
to shoot all men found in such bands acting without authority of 
the state government.' 

Similarly the name and garb of the Ku Klux were used by 
independent bandits, notably by a desperate character named 
CuUen Baker who was described by the newspapers as a man 
*who has probably caused more excitement and committed 
more crimes than any man in modern times.' Governor Clayton 
offered a reward of one thousand dollars for the arrest of Baker; 
whereupon that desperado impudently posted upon the trees 
and public places in his vicinity a reward of five thousand 
dollars for the delivery to him of Governor Clayton, dead or 
alive. Baker was eventually shot from ambush by his brother- 
in-law, who was gratefully paid the reward of one thousand 
dollars, and the newspapers announced that 'the country 
breathes free once more.' 

Another contemporaneous outlaw in Monticello cold- 
bloodedly killed a deputy sheriff who was attempting to serve a 
writ; and then, 'to make an impressive tableau,' killed an en- 
tirely inoffensive and unoffending negro man and tied the white 
man and the negro together in the attitude of kissing each other, 
and left their bodies in the public road for two days. This 
miscreant was arrested, tried by a mihtary commission and 
summarily executed. It was the independent crime of a de- 

26o Invisible Empire 

praved outlaw; but it was inevitably given the Ku Klux 

All these excesses served to heighten the bad blood on both 
sides, and the unfortunate state passed through a period of 
bloody tumult as recriminations, attacks and counter-attacks 
destroyed the peace of the people. The Radicals denounced the 
Ku Klux and the Rebels; and the native people exhausted the 
vocabulary of invective in heaping epithets on the militia. 
The commanders of the militia brigades admitted that some of 
their members were guilty of offenses ranging from larceny to 
rape. They reported further that *Subordinates at times 
doubtless exceeded their orders; also persons not of the forces, 
but representing themselves as belonging to them, in some 
instances plundered the people. In cases where orders were dis- 
obeyed and instructions departed from, the delinquents when 
detected were punished according to the military code.' But the 
native whites retorted that such punishments had been so rare 
as to escape pubHc notice. 

Aside from such minor matters as robbery, assault and 
torturing victims with thumbscrews, one of the things which 
brought the militia into particular disrepute was the singularly 
bad luck they experienced in bringing in their Ku Klux prison- 
ers. 'The prisoners were killed while attempting to escape' 
became such a familiar phrase in the militia commanders' re- 
ports that even Governor Clayton expressed a desire for more 
details as to the circumstances surrounding some of these at- 
tempts at escape — but there was never forthcoming any ex- 
planation which served to convince the people that the phrase 
*killed while attempting to escape' was anything more than a 
s^Tionym for murder. 

But, after so long a time, order was at last restored. The 
Governor called in his militia and restored civil law, and the Ku 
Klux formally disbanded their organizations. In this connec- 
tion. Governor Clayton told an amusing story of his experience 

Arkansas 261 

with a delegation of the leading citizens of Woodruff County, 
composed of Colonel A. C. Pickett, the Honorable C. L. Gauze 
and John W. Slayton, who called on him in Little Rock and 
asked to have civil law restored in their county. Governor Clay- 
ton in his reminiscences says: 'Colonel Pickett was the spokes- 
man, and commenced by saying: "Governor, I know not how 
it is in other counties in the state, but we can assure you there are 
no Ku Klux in Woodruff County." ' Pickett, of course, did not 
know of the inside information gained by the Governor through 
the operations of his secret-service force. *At this point,' the 
Governor continues, *I interrupted the Colonel and drew from 
a drawer in my desk a list of the Ku Klux in Woodruff County 
sent me by General Upham a few days before. Handing it to 
him I remarked: "Colonel, please look over this list, and I think 
you will find that your name, like that of Ben Adhem, leads all 
the rest." The Colonel glanced over it, and before he had time 
to reply I said: "Now, gentlemen, don't come to me with lies on 
your lips. If you will go back home and in good faith disband 
the Ku Klux organizations there and furnish me with conclusive 
evidence that you have done so, and I have means of knowing 
whether you do or not, I will revoke martial law and restore the 
civil authorities there." The Colonel and his associates seemed 
much crestfallen, and for a time they were speechless. At 
length they agreed that they would go back and comply with 
my requirements, which in due time they did. Years after- 
ward, when Colonel Gauze became a member of Congress from 
that district, he and I frequently laughed over the Pickett 
episode. He told me that they had made life unbearable for the 
Colonel on their way back to Woodruff County because of the 
sudden termination of a speech that he had previously prepared 
and read to them.' 

Possibly this story gained something in the Governor's telling, 
but it seems to be a fact that the disbandment of the Ku Klux 
Klan in Arkansas resulted from some such more or less formal 

262 Invisible Empire 

agreement with the Governor. At any rate, after so long a time, 
the orderly processes of the law were restored in Arkansas; and 
when this happy state of affairs eventuated, the Ku Klux Klan 
ceased to function there. 



paper as *the smallest tadpole in the dirty pool of secession,' 
was not by reason of its contemptible size spared any of the rigors 
of Reconstruction. William Marvin was appointed provisional 
governor by President Johnson on July 13, 1865, and served 
until an election was held in November, at which time David S. 
Walker was elected governor, taking office on January 17, 1866. 
The ordinance of secession was repealed, the Thirteenth Amend- 
ment was ratified and Florida seemed to be started on the way 
towards a peaceful and painless restoration to the Union. But in 
April, 1867, the state became a part of the Third Military Dis- 
trict, under the command of General John Pope, and there 
ensued a year of military rule. In May, 1868, an election was 
held at which time Harrison Reed, a carpetbagger, was elected 
governor, and in June of that year the state was admitted to the 
Union and all the state offices were turned over to the newly 
constituted state government. 

Before Governor Reed had been in office six months he was 
impeached, charged with various crimes and misdemeanors, in- 
cluding falsehood and lying, embezzlement of securities and 
money, and with corruption and bribery. Reed, however, suc- 
cessfully resisted this impeachment in the courts, and managed 
to hold on to his office; and when the state legislature assembled 

264 Invisible Empire 

in January he was able to engineer the passage of a resolution 
stating that there had been nothing in his conduct to justify 
impeachment. Hardly had this little matter been patched up, 
however, than he was again impeached in January, 1870, at 
which time he was charged with 'high crimes and misdemean- 
ors, malfeasance and incompetency in office.' This impeach- 
ment also fell through, thanks to Reed's mastery of state politics, 
although a distinctly unpleasant aroma lingered about the 
Governor's chair. In February, 1872, a third attempt was made 
to remove Reed by impeachment, on fourteen charges involving 
bribery, appropriation of state money to his own use and fraudu- 
lent conspiracy; but the Governor slipped through the net again 
when, the impeachment managers applied for a continuance to 
give them time to collect evidence and summon witnesses, 
which application was refused and the court adjourned. 

While all this sordid drama was dragging across the boards at 
the state capital in Tallahassee, the usual infestation of carpet- 
baggers and Loyal Leaguers was sweeping through the state, 
teaching the negroes to hate their former masters and to vote 
the Republican ticket. Jesus Christ was a Republican,' the 
credulous blacks were piously told; and the Leagues grew in 
numbers and strength as their organizers and leaders waxed fat. 
As the belligerence of the negroes increased, the development of 
violent defensive measures followed as naturally as cause follows 
effect. *The state was cursed with a rising tide of violence,' says 
Henry's Story of the Reconstruction, 'descending in many cases to 
the depths of barbarity. Much of the violence was the work of 
bands of white "regulators," whose methods went from warnings 
to whippings, to banishment, to murder and even to torture and 
the mutilation of corpses. The disorder was curiously "spotty," 
with peace and apparent content prevailing in one county while 
in its neighbor there was violence which, upon a few occasions, 
amounted to practical anarchy.' 

In Leon County, in which Tallaha§s£aJs located, the negroes 

-■ ">• 

Florida 265 

outnumbered the white people seven to one, and during the 
years immediately following the war they behaved in a most 
threatening and menacing manner. One witness before the 
Congressional Committee testified that *they were very disquiet, 
and used to go to Tallahassee in crowds of a thousand at a time, 
armed with guns and clubs and other weapons, and parade the 
streets,' creating so much disturbance that 'the female portion of 
the community were very much excited.' 
'' The Union League was organized in Florida as soon as the 
organizers could get down there after the war, and it soon em- 
braced practically all the negroes in its membership. In 1871 
Governor Reed was president of the League, in addition to 
being governor of the state, and the organization had the 
additional advantage of the prestige and power afforded by the 
high political office of its president. 

As in other states also, the Freedmen's Bureau became an 
irritant between the white landowners and the ex-slaves; and it 
was a common practice for the agents of the Bureau to induce 
the negroes to break their contracts with their employers. In 
some instances they- were told that contracts made without the 
sanction of the Bureau were illegal and void — and when new 
contracts were made the agents collected their fees. 

The resentment of the native whites at these mounting abuses 
soon began to manifest itself; and although it is difficult to dis- 
cover just exactly when and by whom the Ku Klux idea was 
introduced into Florida, there seems to be no doubt that the Klan 
was operative in the northern portion of the state. William Bry- 
son, judge of the third judicial circuit, testified that there was an 
organization known as the Ku Klux in his district, and that he 
had been shown some of its signs and secrets by a man named 
George R. Cook, who was 'originally from Tennessee' — ap- 
parently there was always a man from Tennessee on hand when 
Ku Klux developments began anywhere. Judge Bryson said 
that this man showed him a star with five points, but went on to 

266 Invisible Empire 

say, *I was so stupid that it took me a long time to know what it 
meant. After a time he showed me that there were three K's to 
be made of it.' Having disposed of this matter, the Ku Klux 
messenger told Judge Bryson not to hold court, that if he did he 
would be assassinated; but, the judge related, 'I did hold court, 
and I was not assassinated.' Unfortunately, Judge Bryson did 
not go into details as to just how the three K's were made from 
the five-pointed star; and modern readers who happen to be as 
'stupid' as he will have to figure it out for themselves. Anothes:^ 
prominent citizen who testified to first-hand knowledge of the 
existence of the Ku Klux in Florida was the S£cretary of Sta te^ 
J. C. Gibbs . a negro from Philadelphia. Gibbs testified that a 
white man nanie3"~Kferk Kichardson in Taylor County told him 
that he was a member of the Klan in that county and knew 
where their regalia was hidden. He also said that others from 
JTaylorjCounty reported the presence in that county of a band of 
armed marauders who carried a banner with 'K.K.K.' on it, 
and that when they first appeared in the county they stated that 
they were after Mark Richardson. Richardson, however, seems 
to have thwarted them by joining the organization — at least 
that is what he later stated. 

There existed in Florida at that time an organization which 
was commonly regarded by the people as being equivalent to 
the Ku Klux, and it is quite possible that it may have been used 
as a screen for the Klan. This organization was known as the 
Young Men's Democratic Club; and that it was operating in 
other states is indicated by the fact that in the constitution of the 
club as submitted to the Congressional Committee there was a 
blank space for the name of the state as well as the county. 

In its plan of organization it was prescribed that *the white 
voters and disfranchised citizens' of each county should be 
divided into sections of fifties, each to be numbered individually, 
with a chief of each fifty. These fifties were to be subdivided into 
groups of ten, each with a sub-chief; and the chiefs of the tens 


Florida 267 

were required to make a list of * the names, place of residence, by 
whom employed, vocation, height, complexion, where regis- 
tered, and political bias of every white and colored voter in their 
respective limits.' It is interesting to compare this with the 
testimony of General Forrest before the Committee, where he 
said: 'In each voting precinct there is a captain who, in addition 
to his other duties, is required to make out a list of men in his 
district, giving all the Radicals and all the Democrats who are 
positively known, and showing also the doubtful on both sides 
and of both colors. This list of names is forwarded to the grand 
commander of the state, who is thus enabled to know who are 
our friends and who are not.' 

Frank Myers, who claimed that he had formerly belonged to 
the Young Men's Democratic Club in Alachua County, and who 
produced a written copy of its constitution which he said was 
provided him for the purpose of organizing local clubs in Her- 
nando County, stated that the real work of the club was done by 
a 'secret service club' which existed within the other club and 
to which carefully selected members were invited to belong. 
Such a 'secret service' group was indeed provided for in the 
printed constitution of the club, with only a very vague state- 
ment of its objects and duties. Myers said that the purpose of 
this secret-service club was 'in case it became necessary, as they 
feared it would, to use force or violence to prevent certain 
parties from exerting too great an influence with the colored 
population in that county, to be prepared to do it effectually 
and secretly'; and he further stated that this inner organization 
was 'commonly and popularly known as the Ku Klux.' 

Joseph John Williams of Tallahassee, who freely admitted that 
he was the central chief of the Young Men's Democratic Club in 
Leon County, denied emphatically that it had any connection 
with the Ku Klux, and made the further statement, regarding 
the club, that 'The same plan now exists in the state of Virginia; 
I believe that Extra Billy Smith is at the head of exactiy the 

268 Invisible Empire 

same organization there.' Williams, however, denied any 
knowledge of any 'secret service committee' within the club. 

But whether it was the Ku Klux Klan or the Secret-Service 
Committee, there was certainly some sort of formal organization 
in Florida which had for its purpose the regulation of the con- 
duct of the negroes and carpetbaggers, and most people referred 
to these regulators as Ku Klux. Emanuel Fortune, one-time 
shoemaker, later carpenter and still later a common laborer, 
who proudly described himself as being 'a leading man in 
politics' in Jackson County, left there in May, 1868, because he 
said he thought his life was in danger. Although an almost 
totally illiterate negro — he could read 'tolerably well' but 
could not read writing at all and 'could not write writing very 
weir — he had been elected to the state legislature after the 
war and also been elected to the constitutional convention, and 
was a companion and political crony of the carpetbaggers and 
white Radicals. There was no doubt in his mind as to the 
existence of a Ku Klux organization in Jackson County; he 
knew a man 'who saw two disguised men there about eight feet 
high, in the moonlight, sitting in a place where they finally killed 
a man,' and Emanuel avoided that place ever afterward. 

Jackson Cou nty was indeed a veritable hotbed of Ku Kluxism. 
One of the first victims of the wrath of the natives of that county 
was Samuel Fleishman, a carpetbagger who conducted a store 
in Marianna, the county seat, for Altman and Brother. Fleish- 
man catered especially to the black trade, and was heard to tell 
a crowd of negroes in his store that whenever a negro was killed 
they should murder three white men in retaliation. As a result 
of this, Fleishman was summoned one day in October, 1869, to 
appear before an assemblage of more than twenty of the citizens 
of Marianna in J. P. Coker's store, where he was told that it 
had been decided that it would be safest for him and for the 
town for him to leave there without delay. He protested, but 
they told him that they would give him until sundown to get 

Florida 269 

ready to leave; that if he stayed there he would certainly be 
killed, and if he were killed there would be an outbreak of 
trouble which would result in others being killed also. At sun- 
down a committee of citizens called for him at his store and, in 
spite of all his protests, escorted him out of town to the Georgia 
state line, warning him that if he ever returned to Marianna it 
would be at the risk of his Hfe. Fleishman went straight to 
Tallahassee, where he asked for protection; but he was not 
given much encouragement by the state officials upon whom he 
called. Nothing daunted, he set out for Marianna alone, pro- 
testing that he would be ruined if forced to abandon his business 
there. On the way to Marianna he met a white man on horse- 
back who knew him and who advised him to turn back, telling 
him that he would be killed if he showed himself in Marianna; 
but Fleishman went resolutely ahead. The next morning his 
body was found in the road on the outskirts of Marianna. His 
assassins were never apprehended, but the Radicals all said, *Ku 

Violent deaths were no novelty in Jackson County at that 
time. In fact, the mortality rate ran unusually high for a year 
or two. One of the killings which particularly incensed the 
Radicals was that of John Q. Dickinson, a carpetbagger from 
Vermont who had been elected county court clerk, and who 
was shot down in April, 1871, after having received a number of 
threatening letters. As usual there were divergent stories as to 
the manner and cause of his death. His political opponents — 
and some of the Radicals — circulated the story that he was 
killed by a negro named Homer Bryant on account of Dickin- 
son's alleged unlawful relations with Bryant's wife. Dickinson's 
friends, however, expressed the greatest inciignation at this 
charge, insisting that he was *a high-type gentleman, a good 
man, a man of pure life.' One enthusiast even went so far as to 
suggest that his statue be placed in the Hall of Fame as one of 
Florida's foremost citizens in all its history. 

270 Invisible Empire 

Dickinson in fact appears to have been of ability above that 
of the average carpetbagger, being a man of good family and a 
graduate of Harvard. He associated with the negroes, however, 
on a basis of equality, made himself their guide and counselor 
and thereby acquired the ill-will of the native population. In a 
letter written just before his death Dickinson spoke of 'the ter- 
rible scenes through which I have passed in Marianna,' and said 
that *I blush to say that for nearly three years I have managed to 
live here only by dexterously compromising the expression of 
my opinions and by a circumspect walk,' and further, 'I have 
striven, even to a loss of self-respect and several times by incur- 
ring personal danger, to do the best thing under the circum- 

To what an extreme extent he was willing to sacrifice his self- 
respect in the interest of peace is indicated by an incident in 
Dickinson's office when J. P. Coker, the reputed head of the Ku 
Klux in Jackson County, called there on business and found the 
place crowded with negroes, who were being registered by the 
clerk. Coker impatiently insisted upon being given immediate 
attention, and when Dickinson showed an inclination to argue 
the matter with him Coker struck at him, knocking his hat off his 
head. 'Coker, you keep your hands off me,' Dickinson mildly 
protested; but Coker, in a rage, replied: 'I have a mind to put 
your eyes and mouth into one, you God damned nigger-loving 
son of a bitch.' Dickinson discreetly refrained from any reply, 
continuing his business with the negroes, whereupon the irate 
Coker exclaimed: 'You are a God damned liar; and, if you take 
that you are nothing but a cowardly son of a bitch.' Dickinson 
did take it, however; and Coker, unable to sustain a one-sided 
fight, left the office. 

But Dickinson's humiliating pacifism could not save him. 
His fate was sealed. The immediate cause of his death was a dis- 
pute with a man named Ely whose land Dickinson advertised to 
be sold for taxes which Ely said he had paid. Ely was heard to 

Florida 271 

threaten Dickinson with death if he did not take the advertise- 
ment out of the paper; but when Dickinson was actually killed 
Ely disclaimed any knowledge of it and was able to estabHsh an 
air-tight alibi. The Radicals immediately raised the cry that he 
had been murdered by the Ku Klux; but nobody was ever 
officially charged with the crime. 

A particularly conspicuous stormy petrel in Jackson County 
was Major W. J. Purman, a carpetbagger from Pennsylvania, 
who took up his residence in Marianna after the war, was 
elected to the state senate from that county, and became an 
energetic and aggressive leader among the negroes and the 
Radicals, by whom he was held in high esteem. By the same 
token he became immensely unpopular with the native whites, 
and there were frequent mutterings of their ill-will. One night 
as he was returning, in company with a Doctor Finlayson, from 
a concert given by the local garrison of soldiers, they were shot 
from ambush. Dr. Finlayson being killed and Major Purman 
seriously wounded. As soon as he recovered, in five or six weeks, 
he found it advisable to leave on 'a business trip' to Alabama, 
from whence he went to Washington and in September returned 
to Florida — but not to Marianna. He prudently stopped at 
Tallahassee to spy out the land, and was there warned not to 
return to Marianna, as conditions there had grown worse in- 
stead of better and it would not be safe for him to show himself. 

Affairs in Jackson County had indeed reached the boiling 
point during Purman's absence. The white and black residents 
were on the verge of open warfare, and there had been blood 
spilled on both sides. On September 28, 1869, the negroes were 
having a picnic near Marianna, and the crowd of them were 
fired into by an unidentified white man, one man and a litde 
boy being killed. A day or two after that, just at dusk, presum- 
ably in retaliation, a negro fired a double-barreled shotgun into 
a party of people sitting on the piazza of the hotel at Marianna 
—J. P. Coker, Colonel C. F. McClellan and Colonel McClel- 

272 Invisible Empire 

lan's daughter. Miss McClellan was killed and her father 
wounded by the fire, and there ensued the most tremendous 
indignation and excitement in Marianna. Scores of mounted, 
armed men assembled there and placed the town under a sort 
of informal and unofficial martial law; and there were emphatic 
and unrestrained avowals that the blood of Miss McClellan 
must be avenged. 

Colonel McClellan was a leading attorney of Marianna, who 
came there originally from Kentucky. He was physically a 
man of very large proportions, and called himself a 'Kentucky 
war horse.' He was looked upon as a leader by the natives 
opposed to the carpetbaggers and Radicals, but his enemies 
described him as 'an agitator and instigator' and 'a man of 
boisterous, rugged, harsh ways and manners — not a peaceable 
man at all.' Mr. Coker was a leading merchant in Marianna, a 
man of means and standing, and described by a local carpet- 
bagger as 'the generalissimo of the Ku Klux there' and as *a 
general ring-leader of badness.' 

The wanton murder of this entirely innocent and inoffensive 
young woman aroused the greatest possible indignation, and 
there was an outcry for the apprehension and punishment of her 
murderer. Suspicion, based on the testimony of eye-witnesses, 
pointed to a local negro constable, Calvin Rogers, who was a 
Radical firebrand; and a few nights later Rogers was mysteri- 
ously killed, presumably by the Ku Klux. This ended the 
McClellan incident on the surface, but the affair left a feeling of 
tension which was at fever heat when Purman returned to 
Tallahassee from his visit to the North; and he lingered there 
for nearly a year, being sustained meanwhile by appointment to 
a lucrative Federal job. 

In August, 1870, accompanied by Colonel Charles Memorial 
Hamilton, carpetbagger member of Congress from Florida, 
Purman went back to Marianna, where the presence of the two 
hated Radical leaders created an immediate sensation. During 

Florida . 273 

the day there was an ominous sound throughout Marianna and 
its vicinity — the repeated discharge of firearms, generally 
interpreted as being incident to the cleaning out of pistols and 
shotguns preparatory to serious operations. Purman and 
Hamilton lodged at the home of Thomas M. West, the scalawag 
sheriff of the county; and during the day they received a secret 
message that an effort would be made to kill all of them, and 
that their three watchdogs would be poisoned that night in 
preparation for the attack on them. The next morning the 
watchdogs were in fact found dead, and the alarmed sheriff and 
his guests summoned a number of their negro friends to arm 
themselves and come to their assistance. 

Marianna was in a tumult that day. Men on horseback gal- 
loped frantically through the streets, there was a sound of horns 
blowing and general excitement as armed, mounted men began 
to gather in the town. About noon a lone scout rode up to the 
sheriff's house for a brief reconnaissance, and withdrew as soon 
as he saw the armed negroes at every window. Contrary to 
the expectation of the beleaguered men, there was no raid on 
them that night; but the next day there was a noticeable in- 
crease in the number of armed men gathering in the town. 
Some came in buggies, bringing their shotguns; others were on 
horseback, with their blankets and overcoats strapped behind 
their saddles — the customary preparation in that county when 
a man was getting ready to 'go to Texas,' which was the current 
slang expression for leaving for parts unknown. Also conspicu- 
ous in town were a select group of notorious desperadoes from 
Columbus, Georgia, known by the sinister entitlement of 
'twenty-dollar men,' that being, according to current report, the 
flat fee charged by them for a murder. 

Before noon of that day parties of armed men were to be seen 
riding out of Marianna — one squad on each of the roads 
leading out of town. Some gave it out that they were going 
hunting; others carried fishing rods and announced that they 

274 Invisible Empire 

were embarking on an angling expedition. The suspicions of the 
besieged Radicals were aroused by all this stir, and they sent 
out spies who came back with the report that 'every cross- 
road, by-path, dog-path, every possible avenue of escape from 
town was blockaded' and that everybody who tried to leave 
town was stopped and examined before being allowed to pro- 

The sheriff, dismayed by these alarming reports, called in 
several of the prominent men of Marianna, some of the oldest 
citizens of high standing and integrity, and complained to them 
concerning their state of siege; but these citizens laughed at 
their fears and told them that they must be mistaken. Purman 
and Hamilton, however, were convinced that if they attempted 
to leave town unprotected they would be killed; so after four or 
five days of nervous waiting the sheriff issued a summons for a 
posse of five hundred men with four days' rations, and announced 
his plan to march Purman and Hamilton out of town under the 
protection of this body of men. The older citizens immediately 
appealed to the sheriff not to do any such provocative thing, 
saying that the *rash young men' of the town (meaning the Ku 
Klux) would regard it as an aggressive step and that it might 
precipitate a small-scale, local civil war. Tor God's sake, don't 
do that,' they begged. *Ask any means for your safety and you 
shall have it.' The sheriff and his thoroughly frightened guests 
now conferred, and finally hit upon the plan of asking ten of the 
oldest leading citizens of Marianna to act as their escort out of 
town, to which the citizens willingly agreed. The ten old 
citizens accordingly loaded themselves into three carriages and 
escorted the mounted party of fifteen Radicals and negroes to 
Bainbridge in Georgia, whence they made their way to the 
safety of Tallahassee. 

Purman later admitted that although the party of Marianna 
citizens regarded themselves merely as an escort to insure the 
safe passage of the refugees from the danger zone, the refugees 

Florida 275 

themselves viewed the citizens in the light of hostages and calmly 
admitted that it was the plan of himself and the other Radicals 
to kill these 'hostages' if they were attacked on the way. No 
such attack occurred, however, and when the party arrived at 
Bainbridge, Mr. Purman testified, he generously abandoned the 
idea of killing them and 'treated them gloriously to champagne.* 

The fugitives were physically safe when they reached Talla- 
hassee, but there is reason to believe that they did not receive 
any too warm a welcome there even from their political friends. 
Governor Reed, fellow-Radical that he was, told Purman and 
Hamilton frankly to their faces that he considered them very 
largely responsible for the turbulent state of affairs in Jackson 
County; and this was one of the Governor's statements to which 
the native citizens enthusiastically agreed. 

Major Purman was very emphatic in the expression of his 
behef that at this time Florida was ruled by Ku Kluxism, al- 
though the Radicals held all the state offices and outnumbered 
their political opponents in voting strength. The Ku Klux, Ma- 
jor Purman testified, would 'combine to prevent the arrest of 
any man; they will spirit him away or protect and conceal him 
and make it dangerous for officers of the law to attempt to ar- 
rest him. Or, if they do stand their trial, as they have done in 
diflferent portions of the state, and any one of these men is on the 
jury, he will hang the jury and you can not convict any of them.' 

It was a peculiarly bloodthirsty type of Ku Klux they had in 
Jackson County, he testified. Did they whip anybody there? he 
was asked; to which he replied: 'No, sir, they make clean work 
of it in Jackson County. They believe there in gun-powder 
entirely. They do not resort to those trifling things.' Richard 
Pousser, a negro who succeeded the deceased Calvin Rogers 
as constable in Marianna, gave similarly impressive testimony 
when asked if there was an organization of Ku Klux in that 
county. 'There sure is,' he said. 'I am now toting their bullet 
right in my shoulder.' 

276 Invisible Empire 

Stories of all the disorders in Florida, bad enough in them- 
selves, were circulated in the North in exaggerated and dis- 
torted style; and Florida, despite its status as a *small tadpole,' 
gained a reputation in the Northern States as a particularly 
dangerous place for visitors. Judge T. T. Long, in charge of the 
fourth judicial circuit in Florida, testified, however, that there 
had never been any trouble there with people who came there 
and behaved themselves; and he further stated that he knew of 
but one killing into which politics entered. *I think whiskey 
has more to do with them than anything else,' he said. 

Captain C. B. Wilder, a former officer in the Union army and 
an abolitionist before the war, who came to Florida after Lee's 
surrender, partly for his health and partly to invest his money, 
being a man of means, ridiculed the theory that Northern 
people were not safe in the South because of the activities of the 
Ku Klux. He went so far as to express the view that the carpet- 
baggers had circulated these reports with the idea of making 
capital of the matter in Washington and perpetuating them- 
selves in power, quoting one carpetbagger as saying: *It is the 
best thing in the world for our party to have such things occur. 
We can pubHsh them and create a sensation that will foster the 
Republican party.' Captain Wilder scathingly denounced the 
character of the men constituting Florida's state government, 
stating bluntly that the carpetbaggers by their misrule had 
brought about a condition *more ruinous than all the Ku Klux 
in the state.' He complained bitterly of the squandering of the 
state's funds by its corrupt officials, stating that taxes had in- 
creased one thousand per cent in a year and that he could 
recall but one honest man in the state government. United 
States senatorships and Federal appointments were being sold 
to the highest bidder, he asserted; and he specifically charged 
that of $2,800,000 of bonds issued to build a railroad, only 
$308,938 was actually applied to that purpose. 

n. G. Dennis, a carpetbagger from Massachusetts, who was a 

Florida 277 

United States revenue collector and also state senator fronuAlSi. 
chua County, related that he had received a number of threaten- 
Ing letters, one of which he produced: 

No man e*er felt the halter draw 
With good opinion of the law. 

Twice the secret report was heard 
When again you hear his voice 
Your doom is sealed. 

Dead men tell no tales. 

Dead! dead! under the roses. 

Our motto is death to Radicals — Beware! 


In spite of these sinister threats, followed up by several abor- 
tive efforts to take his life, Dennis held on to both his offices. 
As a feature of his hazing, a group of ten or twelve alleged Ku 
Klux held a sort of mock trial of him in the streets of Gainesville ., 
one night about midnight. Some boxes were carried into the 
street from one of the stores, and one of the Ku Klux mounted 
the box and acted as the judge. Dennis was charged with the 
serious offense of being a Radical, and was convicted and sen- 
tenced to be executed. The young men engaging in this horse- 
play were described as being members of the first families; but 
they were also said to be 'desperate, bad men; men who boast of 
having killed two or three negroes apiece.' 
^All of the Ku Klux activity in Florida was in the northern 
counties, principally along the Georgia state line. B. F. Tidwell, 
scalawag county judge o f Madison Cmmty^ testified that there 
had been 'over twenty' people killed in that county by an organi- 
zation commonly spoken of as the Ku Klux. David Montgom- 

278 Invisible Empire 

ery, carpetbagger sheriff of the county, stated that he had been 
informed by a man named R. H. WiUiard that he had been in- 
vited to join the Klan; and another citizen of the county by the 
name of McClary was quoted as having boasted while in his 
cups that he *could just blow his horn and have eighty men at 
his call at any time.' That this organization was a branch of 
the veritable Ku Klux Klan was further evidenced by its plan of 
operation as revealed by William Sapp, a suspected member: *If 
there was anything to be done down in our county they sent 
word across the line into Georgia and the party came from 
there; and if there was anything to be done over there, a party 
would go from our county over there.' A negro justice of the 
peace in Madison County by the name of Hall received a letter 
signed 'K.K.K.' notifying him that he must resign; and it was 
stated that numerous such letters were received by obnoxious 
Radical office-holders in the county. 

E. G. Johnson, a scalawag member of the state senate from 
Lake City^n October, 1871, received a letter purporting to 
£ome from the Ku Klux in which his life was threatened unless 
he resigned his seat in the senate. This letter stated that the 
organization had four thousand members in Florida and that 
'all the Ku Klux laws, all the courts, all the soldiers, all the 
devils in hell can not stop the resolves of the brotherhood. The 
destroyers of our rights — that is, unprincipled leaders such as 
you — if they persist, will fall one by one; it is sworn to by brave 
men, who are obliged to act in secrecy from the force of circum- 
stances.' Johnson boldly published the letter in the Lake City 
Herald, describing it as a 'Ku Klux letter,' with a statement 
alleging that he knew the authors and that they would be safe 
so long as they did not carry their threat into execution. But, he 
said, 'just so sure as I fall, they will know that I have placed 
avengers upon their tracks that will never rest until they have 
visited upon them swift and just retribution.' Johnson, however, 
did not 'fall'; and nobody ever knew whether his dark threat of 

Florida 279 

*swift and sure retribudon' was just a bluff or if he really had 
arranged for the post-mortem vengeance as claimed. 

R. W. Cone, a scalawag who lived in Palatka in Baker 
County, had incurred the ill-will of his neighbors in the first 
place by dodging service in the Confederate army, and after the 
war he intensified his unpopularity by consorting with the Radi- 
cals and the negroes. The climax was reached when he served 
on a Federal grand jury of mixed white and black personnel, 
which, according to the local complaint, *took negroes' testi- 
mony in preference to white men's.' Cone shortly thereafter 
found a notice on his front gate warning him to leave town; and 
when he arrived at-hi§.store he found a similar notice tacked to 
the door. This notice was notTn handwriting, which might be 
identified;i3Ujwas cunningly contrived of single words cut out of 
the pages of newspspersT^^^sted^together, and was signed 
*K.K.K.' Cone was inclined to defy the power of the Invisible 
Empire, and publiHv announced that he was ready to defend 
himself against aggressibiu.Undismayed by this, however, the 
Ku Klux burst into his house one night soon thereafter, took 
him out into the woods and whipped him with stirrup-leathers 
taken from their saddles — whereupon he discreetly moved to 
Jacksonville. Cone testified before the Congressional Committee 
that his whipping was no isolated instance of such punishment. 
*This Ku Klux business, or regulating business, whatever they 
call it,' he said, 'has been going on here ever since the war — 
and even before the war.' 

In Florida the negro militia did not come to be such a disturb- 
ing factor as it was in most of the other Southern States. The 
Governor was authorized to enlist such a force, but he never pro- 
ceeded very far along this fine. His first effort failed because of 
a mishap to the guns which he had bought in New York with 
which to arm them — an incident reminiscent of the fate of the 
guns shipped from Memphis to Arkansas on the Hesper. The 
Florida guns reached Jacksonville all right, and there they were 

28o Invisible Empire 

loaded into two cars and the cars locked. When the train 
reached Tallahassee the cars were still locked — but they were 
empty; the guns had mysteriously disappeared en route. A 
thorough search finally disclosed a large number of the guns, 
broken and rendered useless, scattered along the right of way of 
the railroad; others were later seen in the hands of a Ku Klux 
raiding party in Madison County; but nobody, including the 
members of the train crew, could offer any explanation of the 
mystery. Thirty years later an old man, then living in Texas, in 
reminiscent mood told gleefully of how the feat was accom- 
plished. 'Every telegraph operator, brakeman, engineer and 
conductor on the road was a Ku Klux,' he stated. The ship- 
ment was watched at every point, and between Lake City and 
Madison the entire two carloads of guns were thrown from the 
moving train by a select band of Ku Klux, under the personal 
command of this narrator, who had quietly boarded the train 
at its last stop. The Ku Klux left the train at Madison, having 
accomplished their work of destruction in spite of the fact that 
there were attached to the train two coaches filled with United 
States troops sent to guard the precious shipment. 

This unfortunate experience seemed to discourage any 
further efforts to arm the state militia and put it into action; 
and, besides, the Governor by this time had his time so fully 
engaged in trying to defend himself from political attack and 
hold on to his office that he lost some of his zest for persecuting 
the citizens. Gradually the native white citizens regained con- 
trol of the state government; and, as the need for their services 
diminished, the Ku Klux faded out of existence. 



XXLTHOUGH THE ORIGINAL PLAN for the Invisible Empire, 
as outlined in the official Prescript, contemplated an organiza- 
tion extending into all the states which had comprised the 
Southern Confederacy, its activities were confined almost en- 
tirely to those states already mentioned in detail — Tennessee, 
Alabama, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Missis- 
sippi and Arkansas. In the states of Louisiana, Virginia and 
Texas it is hard to find any convincing evidence of the existence 
of the Ku Klux Klan; although in Louisiana and Texas, at 
least, there were similar organizations carrying on regulatory 
work on a more or less extensive scale. 

In Virginia the Klan does not seem to have been active at all. 
There was an occasional outburst of violence in some of the 
south-side counties, along the Carolina border, to which the 
Ku Klux name was attached; but it is extremely doubtful 
whether these were attributable to the genuine Ku Klux Klan. 
The Klan was operating in some of the adjoining counties in 
North Carohna, and it is possible that some of the Carolina 
Klansmen occasionally may have made a foray across the line 
on some special occasion. The report of the Congressional 
Committee, which was seeking Ku Klux outrages with micro- 
scopical care, said that in Virginia *The Ku Klux, although 
manifesting themselves in 1868, have not again renewed their 

282 Invisible Empire 

activities' ; and such a restrained statement from the committee 
is tantamount to an admission that the Ku Klux did not operate 
in the state. 

The only conspicuous charge of Ku Kluxism in Virginia was 
made by Luther C. Tibbets, a carpetbagger who took up his 
residence in Fredericksburg after the war and soon became im- 
plicated in some complex legal difficulties there involving a 
tenant of his named James B. Summons, also a carpetbagger. 
As a result of these difficulties, Tibbets returned to the North, 
where he published a pamphlet with the resounding title 
'Spirit of the South; or Persecution in the Name of the Law as 
Administered in Virginia.' In the course of this pamphlet 
Tibbets quoted two letters of warning from the Ku Klux Klan 
received by Summons. The first of these, addressed to 'J. Sum- 
mons, the Radical, in care of the other Radical, L. C. Tibbets,' 
read as follows: 

Hole in the Wall, No Place, July 29, 1868. 
To J. Summons, the Radical: 

You are hereby warned and notified to leave the County of 
Spottsylvania within ten (10) days from the receipt of this 
notification, or take the consequences of your remaining and of 
disregarding the third warning which you have received from 
this commandery of our order. There is not Yankee hounds 
enough on the soil of Virginia to turn the bullet from your heart 
if you remain. 

Your inveterate enemy, for the order of the K.K.K. 


Mr. Summons apparently showed no signs of taking this 
letter seriously, for a week later, they wrote him again: 

The Hole in the Wall, No Place, August 5, 1868. 
Summons: — As the time is drawing near when your limit 
will expire, I again caution you to leave the county. It is not 

Louisiana, Virginia and Texas 283 

our desire or our object to shed blood, and it is only done in 
extreme cases when assassination can not be avoided in order to 
carry out our plans. Therefore this, the fourth warning. Al- 
though your enemy, I warn you as a friend. 

My other communications were unofficial, being written by 
myself at the suggestion of some of the Klan. You will observe 
that this bears our seal, and if you are not entirely bereft of 
reason you will regard it. 

By order of the G. C. 

G. L. 

In the lower corner of this letter was a skull and crossbones, 
the *our seal' referred to, and it was elaborately decorated with 
vignettes of coffins, death's heads, whips, etc. Apparently this 
warning got the desired results, for Summons and Tibbets 
both left town promptly. When Tibbets pubHshed his pam- 
phlet. General George Stoneman ordered an investigation of the 
episode. S. F. Chalfin, A.A.G., in an official report to Stone- 
man in October minimized the whole affair. * Statements that 
Tibbets was forced to leave here to avoid being murdered, I 
regard as purely sensational,' wrote Chalfin. 'I have no reason 
to suppose that any "Klan" exists anywhere in this vicinity. 
It is quite possible that some foolish young men have sent 
anonymous threats couched in the fantastic language and em- 
blems, well-knowing Mr. Tibbets' highly excitable character.' 

Just why it should have been so is not entirely clear, but 
Virginia appears to have escaped from the searing Reconstruc- 
tion ordeal with a minimum of damage and distress. The 
brutalities and excesses practiced by the Radicals in the other 
Southern States were practically unknown in the Old Dominion, 
and Virginia was restored to her place in the Union, with an 
orderly civil government, in a relatively short while after the end 
of the war. In the absence of oppression and abuse, there was 
Httle or no need for retaHatory measures; furthermore the 

284 Invisible Empire 

Virginia negroes were of a naturally orderly and well-behaved 
type; consequently, there being no crying need for it, the Ku 
Klux Klan did not become a factor in the reconstruction of 

Texas, on the other hand, although it suffered all the rigors 
of the most obnoxious post-war misgovernment, was not so 
physically situated as to encourage or support any closely knit 
state organization of regulators. There were, to be sure, local 
bands of regulators — plenty of them. In San Antonio there 
was a group known as 'the Confederate Vigilantes,' there were 
'Hunters' Clubs' and other groups without names. In his annual 
report dated November 4, 1868, General Reynolds, the military 
commander in Texas, said: 'Armed organizations known as 
"Ku Klux Klans" exist independently or in concert with other 
armed bands in many parts of Texas, but are most numerous, 
bold and aggressive east of Trinity River. The precise objects 
of the organizations can not be readily explained, but seem in 
this state to be to disarm, rob, and in many cases murder. Union 
men and negroes, and, as occasion may offer, murder United 
States officers and soldiers; also to intimidate everyone who 
knows anything of the organization but will not join it.' 

The phraseology used by General Reynolds is worthy of note. 
The armed organizations of which he speaks may have been, 
and probably were, known as Ku Klux Klans. That was a 
popular appellation for any sort of organized regulators in those 
days; but the fact that people called them Ku Klux did not, of 
course, make them Ku Klux; and although their objectives and 
methods may have been similar, there does not seem to be any 
evidence of connection between these Texas groups and the Ku 
Klux Klan of which General Forrest was the Grand Wizard. 

An example of the conditions which made some sort of pro- 
tective organization a necessity is to be seen in a news item in 
the Crockett Sentinel of April 24, 1868, which said: 'Saturday 
night, after the Loyal League had adjourned, about twelve 

Louisiana, Virginia and Texas 285 

o'clock, a large party of negro fellows entered the yard of our 
townsman, Mr. W. H. Cundiff, tied their horses to his shade 
trees, entered his parlor and spent the night. Mr. Cundiff was 
away from his home at the time, and his house was occupied by 
Mrs. Cundiff and her little children, who passed a night of 
horrible torture and suspense, knowing not what fiendish deed 

the ruffians would attempt It is an outrage that demands 

retaliation, one that the law is inadequate to reach, and that 
will demand the attention of the community. We believe that 
the peace and safety of our community demand the suppression 
of this infernal institution.' 

This was not an isolated example. Texans were constantly 
subjected to such indignities after the war; and Texans were 
never so constituted as to bear indignities passively. That *at- 
tention of the community' suggested by the Crockett editor was 
soon forthcoming; and the lawless negroes and carpetbaggers of 
Texas soon found that there was in existence an elusive but 
powerful defensive mechanism which would not permit abuses 
to go unpunished. Just how this mechanism operated is thrill- 
ingly and artistically told in Laura Krey's And Tell of Time, 
which, though historical fiction, is a faithful picture of conditions 
as they prevailed in Texas after the war. 

Any consideration of post-war conditions in Louisiana is com- 
plicated by the confusion in identity between the various pro- 
tective organizations existing at that time, particularly the 
popular confusion of the Knights of the White Camelia with the 
Ku Klux Klan. 

'The Joint Committee Upon the Conduct of the Late Election 
and the Present Condition of Peace and Order in the State' re- 
ported in January, 1869, that they were *in possession of detailed, 
trustworthy and sworn information of the existence of a secret 
poHtical and semi-mihtary organization in this state styled "The 

Knights of the White Camelia" The testimony before the 

committee shows that this order is the real organization which is 

286 Invisible Empire 

known to the public as the Ku Klux . . . that mischievous and 
unlawful society.' The Committee's report further said that 
*Large numbers of respectable Southern law-abiding citizens 
were, in the political excitement preceding the late election, 
drawn into this society. Most of such men we believe to have 
been ignorant of its real character and designs. Such men are 
rapidly withdrawing from its folds. The time is not far distant 
when it will be abandoned to the reckless and lawless portions 
of society, who have everything to gain and nothing to lose by 
tumult, violence and anarchy.' 

This was a fairly accurate prediction of the trend to be taken 
by the members of such societies in some sections of the state; 
but the Committee was in error in presuming that the Knights 
of the White Camelia and the Ku Klux were identical. As a 
matter of fact, there were many prominent men who were 
members of the White Camelia and were proud of their mem- 
bership, making no secret of it; but they all denied any con- 
nection between that order and the Ku Klux, generally con- 
demning the excesses attributed to the Klan. The situation was 
complicated by the fact that in some instances reckless indi- 
viduals would join the White Camelia and would then disguise 
themselves in the costumes popularly associated with the Ku 
Klux and make raids. These were acts of individual initiative; 
but when it became known that members of the White Camelia 
were indulging in such excesses, it was not unnatural for the 
uninitiated to conclude that the two orders were one and the 

All students of Reconstruction affairs in Louisiana seem 
agreed, however, that such a view of the matter was erroneous. 
John Rose Ficklen in his History of Reconstruction in Louisiana 
says: *The Ku Klux Klan was quite distinct in its methods, if 
not in its objects, from the Knights of the White Camelia, and 
the latter generally denied that the Klan existed in Louisiana. 
It seems true that as an organization it did not exist, but the 

Louisiana, Virginia and Texas 287 

testimony of many witnesses shows that reckless bands of whites 
did disguise themselves and, adopting the methods of the order 
as it existed in other states, did range some of the country 
parishes at night, intimidating the ignorant, superstitious darkies 
and endeavoring to frighten away the more extreme of the 
Radical whites.' 

In an article on 'The White League in Louisiana' H. Oscar 
Lestage, Jr., said: 'The Ku Klux Klan probably never existed 
in Louisiana, yet various leagues such as the Knights of the 
White Camelia, Seymour and Blair Societies, Innocents, and 
other Democratic clubs, were prominent over the entire state. 
All had "white supremacy" as an ultimate aim. Despite efforts 
to check radical clubs, many outrageous deeds were committed 
in some localities. At first only negroes were intimidated, but 
in a short time even white immigrants from other states were 
robbed and plundered. It was not long, however, before legiti- 
mate organizations put to rout almost all of the clandestine 

The Reconstruction period in Louisiana was punctuated 
by frequent outbreaks of violence in various parts of the state, 
and riots and riotous demonstrations were common occurrences 
in New Orleans and the other cities as well as in the country 
parishes. As one government report expressed it, 'Predatory 
bands of colored men rode about, burning houses and threaten- 
ing murder and outrage, while other bodies of idle white men 
pursued them or engaged in similar amusements on their own 
account.' This state of affairs persisted in Louisiana longer 
probably than in any other Southern state; and it is hardly an 
exaggeration to say that for ten years following the close of the 
war Louisiana was in a condition bordering on anarchy. 

Disorder was rampant in the state. In Colfax a band of three 
hundred negroes seized the town and barricaded themselves in 
the courthouse; and when attacked by the sheriff and a posse of 
one hundred and fifty white men an engagement ensued in 

288 Invisible Empire 

which sixty men were killed on both sides and the courthouse 
and its contents burned. There was a bloody affray in Opelousas, 
when bands of armed negroes marched on the town and were 
met by an armed body of the townspeople, several on each side 
being killed. In St. Bernard Parish a white family was murdered 
by some negroes, which brought on retaliatory measures which 
almost precipitated a race war. A political marching club com- 
posed of negroes attacked a white restaurant in New Orleans, 
resulting in the loss of several lives in the ensuing fracas. 

In their spontaneous acts of retaliation and defense the 
white people frequently resorted to disguises, resembling the Ku 
Klux costume, and rather encouraged the impression that they 
were members of a far-flung secret organization. *Some sixty or 
seventy armed men, with masks on their faces and white sheets 
on their horses' seized and destroyed the ballots just prior to the 
election in Franklinton in Washington Parish. In Franklinton 
the negroes who voted the Democratic ticket were given written 
certificates to that effect, without which they were unable to buy 
goods from the leading stores. These certificates were signed 
'R. Babington, Secretary'; and the Radicals jumped to the con- 
clusion that Mr. Babington was secretary of the local Ku Klux 
Klan. At Trenton in Ouachita Parish a *party of white men, 
dressed in black robes and their faces painted black' burned five 
houses occupied by negroes suspected of organized stealing. A 
mob twice destroyed the plant of the Radical newspaper pub- 
lished in Alexandria, the Rapides Tribune. M. J. Lemmon the 
agent of the Freedmen's Bureau in Catahoula Parish, found tied 
to a corncob on his front porch a note signed *K.K.K.' warn- 
/ing him to leave town. In Union Parish there was a Central 
Democratic Club, and negroes were induced to join it and vote 
Democratic by the representation that by so doing they would 
be protected from the Ku Klux. In Sabine Parish there was an 
organization, which dressed in white sheets and was locally 
known as the Ku Klux, which specialized in punishing white 

Louisiana, Virginia and Texas 289 

men for stealing hogs. Explaining this unusual chromatic dis- 
crimination, a witness said: 'They seemed to think the negroes 
had the privilege to steal hogs; but a white man stealing hogs, 
they would go for him.' Apparently emboldened by this im- 
munity, a negro took a white man's horse out of his bam and cut 
his throat; whereupon the regulators hanged the offending 
negro. They also began to notify obnoxious persons to leave 
town, whereupon, the witness related: 'We held a meeting and 
stopped it. When they were driving out hog thieves we didn't 
care about it, but when they tried to drive out good citizens we 
stopped it.' 

W. A. Moulton, chairman of the Board of Supervisors of 
Morehouse Parish, received a notice signed 'K.K.K.' warning 
him to leave the parish. This notice said: 

Old Graveyard — The Hour of Midnight 
W. A. Moulton: 

The time has come! Nine (9) days is left you! The time is 
yours! Improve it! or suffer the penalty! The pale-faces are 
against you! Depart, ye cursed! We cannot live together! Nine 


Thomas Hudnall, a strong pro-Union man of Morehouse 
Parish, testified that 'While under the influence of liquor, Dr. 
Tom Tourdain told me that he belonged to the Ku Klux Klan 
and that the order had effected a thorough organization in the 
Parish of Morehouse and that they were cooperating with those 
of Franklin Parish.' 

At Tangipahoa in St. Helen Parish there were reports 
of a band of armed men, 'their horses as well as themselves 
covered with white sheets, en masque,^ who went about to negroes' 
homes frightening them; and in Claiborne Parish there were 'a 
number of reckless men prowUng about intimidating negroes.' 

2 go Invisible Empire 

In Claiborne such a band killed a carpetbagger agitator named 
W. R. Meadows who preached social equality to the negroes and 
brought on his death by making a public speech in which he 
told them that 'Now is a good time to get white wives.* 

An apparently deliberate effort to cow the negroes is to be 
seen in an article which appeared in the Planters Banner of 
Franklin, early in 1868, in which it was alleged that the Ku 
Klux were operating in St. Mary, Attakapas and other parishes, 
with devastating results. 'The negroes of Lafayette parish,' it 
said, 'were lately nearly all of them preparing to leave, 
the K.K.K.'s having frightened them every night and carried 
off a carpetbagger from Illinois. One negro, a big-talking 
Radical, somewhere in the Parish of St. Martin, was lately 
carried off by these Confederate ghosts at night and has never 
been heard of since. A night traveler called at the negro quar- 
ters, somewhere in Attakapas, and asked for water. After he 
had drunk three buckets full of good cistern water, at which the 
negro was much astonished, he thanked the colored man and 
told him he was very thirsty, that he had traveled nearly a 
thousand miles in 24 hours and that was the best drink of water 
he had had since he was killed at the Battle of Shiloh. The 
negro dropped the bucket, tumbled over two chairs and a table, 
escaped through a back window and has not since been heard 
from. He was a Radical negro. White men on white horses 
have lately been seen sailing through the air at midnight at 
Pattersonville, Jeanerette and at various places all over the 
southern part of the state. If negroes attempt to run away from 
the K.K.K.'s these spirits always follow them and catch them, 
and no living man hears from them again. The leader of this 
new order is said to be perfectly terrible. He is 10 feet high and 
his horse is 15. He carries a lance and shield like those of 
GoHath of the Philistines.' 

This seems to have been obviously an effort to intimidate the 
negroes by means of an appeal to their superstitious fears; but, 

Louisiana, Virginia and Texas 291 

with such propaganda pubHcly appearing, it is not surprising 
that the general pubHc should fall into the habit of charging all 
sorts of violence and disorder to the Ku Klux Slate. The Com- 
mittee on Contested Elections drew the proper distinction when 
they reported that 'The evidence of the existence of Ku Klux 
methods in Louisiana, though not .of any organization connected 
with the parent association, is found abundantly.' The Com- 
mittee from the House of Representatives which in 1873 in- 
vestigated conditions in Louisiana, however, attributed all such 
depredations to the Ku Klux. In its report it stated that more 
than two thousand persons had been 'killed, wounded and other- 
wise injured' in the state during the presidential election in 1872, 
and that 'midnight raids, secret murders and open riot kept 
the people in constant terror.' In St. Landry Parish, it was 
stated, occurred 'one of the bloodiest riots on record, in which 
the Ku Klux killed and wounded over 200 Republicans, hunting 
and chasing them for two days and nights through fields and 
swamps.' Aside from the fact that this was undoubtedly a gross 
exaggeration of the number killed, it is also in error in attribu- 
ting all this disorder to the Ku Klux — except as the name had 
come to be applied loosely, if inaccurately, to all violence of this 
kind. There were certainly no Ku Klux Klans operating in 
Louisiana (or anywhere else) in 1872, if there had ever been any 
in the state at all; but the Ku Klux had made their name a 
synonym for any sort of defensive or punitive violence, and it 
was the common tag for everything of the kind. 

Louisiana's Reconstruction period was a peculiarly turbulent 
and tumultuous one, featured by riotous factional rivalries 
which kept public affairs in a constant stir. General W. H. 
Emory, in charge of the United States troops in New Orleans, 
described the state government as 'odious beyond expression' 
and 'distasteful to all parties. Republicans and Democrats, 
black and white'; but this odious and universally despised set of 
state officials managed by various devices to continue in office 

292 Invisible Empire 

for a painfully long period. Opposition to this misrule being 
impossible of effective expression in any legal manner, it found 
its manifestation in armed rebellion almost amounting to 
revolution; but the organizations which finally ousted the birds 
of prey from the state were the White League and the Knights of 
the White Camelia; and the Ku Klux Klan cannot be given the 
credit for the rescue of Louisiana from the hands of its despoilers. 


The Decline of the Empire 





focussed on the Ku Klux Klan by President Grant's special 
message to Congress on December 5, 1870, in which he declared 
that the 'free exercise of franchise has by violence and intimida- 
tion been denied to citizens in several of the states lately in 
rebellion,' he having been moved to this action by the continued 
outcries from Governor Holden of North Carolina, who was 
clamorously appealing for the help of the Federal Government, 
alleging that the Ku Klux had North CaroHna in a state of 
terror by their acts of violence. 

Following the President's message. Senator Morton intro- 
duced a resolution in the Senate calling on him for information 
in his possession as to 'disloyal or evil-designed organizations' 
in North Carolina; and Grant on January 13 submitted a 
reply in which he listed nearly five thousand alleged disorders, 
outrages and homicides in North Carolina and elsewhere. 

Accordingly a select committee from the Senate was sent 
, down to investigate affairs in North Carolina, and this com- 
mittee made its report on March 10. The majority declared 
with emphasis that 'the Ku Klux organization does exist,' and 
that it was indulging in a carnival of murders, intimidation and 
violence of all kinds; but the minority report said that the 
reports had been 'grossly and wilfully exaggerated.' The 

296 Invisible Empire 

majority also reported that while engaged in prosecuting their 
inquiry in North Carolina they had received many complaints, 
of insecurity from Ku Klux outrages in other states, suggesting 
the possibility that the public interest might be served by the 
further pursuit of the investigation on a larger, South- wide scale. 

Following this committee's report. President Grant on March 
23 sent a message to Congress calling on them to take some 
action which would 'effectively secure life, liberty and property 
and the enforcement of the laws in all parts of the United 
States.' The suggestion of a need for further Federal legislation 
was expressed in these words: 'That the power to correct these 
evils is beyond the control of state authorities I do not doubt. 
That the power of the Executive of the United States, acting 
within the limits of existing laws, is sufficient for present emer- 
gencies, is not clear.' 

Congress responded to this invitation by enacting the in- 
famous Ku Klux Law, officially designated as 'An act to enforce 
the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, and for other purposes'; and this 
'other purposes' included such outrageous forms of prostitution 
of popular government as to bring down on the law the execra- 
tion of fair-minded people of all parties in all sections of the 
country. Besides passing this law. Congress also adopted a 
resolution calling for the appointment of a Joint Select Com- 
mittee of members of the Senate and the House of Representa- 
tives whose duty it should be 'to inquire into the condition of 
the late insurrectionary states.' The resolution was passed on 
April 7, and the members of the committee were appointed 
promptly within a few days by both branches. 

The committee was composed of the following seven Senators 
and fourteen Representatives: Senators: John Scott, chairman; 
Zachariah Chandler, Benjamin F. Rice, T. F. Bayard, Frank 
P. Blair, John Pool, and Daniel D. Pratt. Representatives: 
Luke P. Poland, chairman; Horace Maynard, Glenni W 

The Congressional Investigation 297 

Scofield, Burton G. Cook, John Coburn, Job E. Stevenson, 
Charles W. Buckley, William E. Lansing, Samuel S. Cox, 
James B. Beck, Daniel W. Voorhees, Philadelph Van Trump, 
Alfred M. Waddell, and James C. Robinson. During the 
course of the hearings Messrs. Buckley, Cook, and Voorhees 
retired from membership on the committee, and were replaced 
by John F. Farnsworth, Benjamin F. Butler, and James M. 
Hanks, the political balance remaining undisturbed — thirteen 
Republicans and eight Democrats. 

The first meeting of the committee was held on April 20, 
Senator Scott being elected chairman of the joint committee, 
and a sub-committee was appointed to prepare a plan of 
procedure. The next meeting was held on May 17, when 
(after voting to pay themselves eight dollars a day for expenses 
in addition to mileage at ten cents a mile) they voted to set up 
a sub-committee of eight which would proceed at once with 
the investigation by holding hearings in Washington to which 
witnesses would be called, with authority to take testimony 
wherever they considered advisable by a sub-committee of 
their own number. This sub-committee was instructed to 
report to a meeting of the full committee in Washington on 
September 20, at which time other sub-committees were to be 
appointed to visit such localities in the South as the sub-com- 
mittee should report to be *in a disturbed condition.' The sub- 
committee of eight was made up of Messrs. Scott and Poland, 
as chairmen of their respective Senate and House Committees, 
together with Messrs. Pool, Blair, Coburn, Stevenson, Beck, 
and Van Trump. 

Before adjournment of the first organization meeting, while 
plans for the course of procedure were being discussed, Senator 
Bayard introduced a resolution providing that in the examina- 
tion of witnesses the investigation should be governed by the 
legal rules of evidence prevailing in the courts. Mr. Van Trump 
submitted a proposal that in taking testimony 'mere rumors 

298 Invisible Empire 

and what is known in the courts as hearsay testimony' should 
be excluded. Senator Bayard also proposed that witnesses 
should be limited in their testimony to facts existing at the 
time or which had occurred since the enactment of the law 
providing for the investigation. 

All these precautionary proposals were rejected, however, 
with the result that what purported to be an official fact-finding 
investigation degenerated into a clearing-house for the threshing 
over of any and all rumors concerning any disorder which may 
have been attributed to the Ku Klux since the end of the war. 
There was, of course, a great deal of valuable factual informa- 
tion developed by the investigation; but there was also a lot of 
obviously idle gossip, and more than a little plain, old-fashioned 
lying. Any witnesses who showed any hesitancy about testifying 
to matters beyond their personal knowledge were quickly in- 
formed that the bars were down and that they might tell about 
anything they had heard in the way of rumor or gossip, with 
the result that the facts are hopelessly buried in a mass of other 
material of very doubtful credibility. 

The Committee's value as an effective investigatory and 
deliberative body was seriously lessened by the sharp line of 
cleavage which immediately developed between the thirteen 
Republicans and the eight Democrats constituting its member- 
ship; and in the examination of witnesses, both at Washington 
and at various points in the South, politics was very clearly 
one of the governing factors in the proceedings. The Republican 
members diligently sought to establish from the witnesses that 
the Ku Klux Klan was a political organization, composed ex- 
clusively of Democrats, and designed primarily for the persecu- 
tion of Republicans, black and white, and especially for the 
intimidation of negro voters. The Democrats, on the other 
hand, worked just as hard to sustain the theory that the Ku 
Klux had no political purposes whatever, that they did not 
concern themselves with the politics of their victims, but were 

The Congressional Investigation 299 

organized and operated entirely as a widespread vigilance 
committee for the preservation of law and order. 

The examination of witnesses was a travesty on the ordinary, 
established system of legal procedure. Leading questions were 
the customary thing; that witnesses had been coached and 
drilled was freely charged, and apparently not without some 
basis; testimony was easily put into the mouths of ignorant and 
unsophisticated witnesses; and when some conscientious witness 
displayed hesitation about testifying to something of which he 
had no knowledge he was heartily assured that he need feel no 
qualms about retailing all the loose rumors and gossip he had 
heard. This resulted in the development of some very sensa- 
tional and racy testimony; but it is doubtful whether it contrib- 
uted anything to the legitimate objectives of a fact-finding body. 

The sub-committee of eight held its first meeting in Washing- 
ton on May 20, adjourned until June i, and really got down 
to business with the examination of witnesses on June 5. The 
committee continued diligently with its hearings until July 30, 
when a sub-committee of three, Messrs. Pool, Blair and Buckley, 
was appointed to finish up with the examination of all witnesses 
on hand or on the way to Washington and then adjourn, the 
last hearing being held on August 4. Meanwhile a sub-sub- 
committee of three, headed by Senator Scott, had been sent to 
North and South Carolina to investigate conditions there; and 
this committee returned and made an oral report on July 3 1 . 

The entire personnel of the Joint Select Committee resumed 
its activities on September 20; and immediately two sub- 
committees of five each were appointed to go to the South and 
conduct hearings there. Messrs. Maynard, Scofield, Lansing, 
Bayard and Voorhees constituted the committee to visit the 
Carolinas, Georgia and Florida; and Messrs. Pratt, Rice, 
Buckley, Blair and Robinson were sent to Tennessee, Alabama 
and Mississippi. Having done this, the Joint Select Committee 
adjourned to meet on the first day of the next session of Congress. 

300 Invisible Empire 

Accordingly the whole committee met in Washington on 
December 6, but immediately took an adjournment to De- 
cember 2 1 . The sub-committees having meanwhile visited the 
Southern states designated and carried on their local investiga- 
tions, the reports of these committees were received on De- 
cember 21, and adjournment was then taken until January 23. 
Routine business was transacted at this meeting and at subse- 
quent meetings on February 10, 15, 17 and 19, when the com- 
mittee finally adjourned, after having authorized the printing 
of forty thousand copies of its report. 

The final report as published is a monumental and forbidding 
affair, constituting thirteen octavo volumes of closely printed 
small type. One volume contains the majority and minority 
reports; and the remaining twelve are devoted to a stenographic 
report of the testimony taken at the hearings held in Washington 
and throughout the South. Here is preserved a verbatim ac- 
count of all that was said by the hundreds and hundreds of 
witnesses examined, ranging from the most ignorant and illiter- 
ate negroes to the leading and most cultured white citizens. 
/During the days this committee was sitting there streamed 
before it an amazingly varied array of humanity. There were 
governors and senators and representatives, state legislators, 
mayors, sheriffs, coroners and office-holders of all grades, color 
and character. There were United States Army officers and 
ex-Confederate generals, not to mention veteran soldiers of all 
ranks who had served in the recent war. There were lawyers 
and doctors and editors and saloonkeepers and butchers, 
grocerymen, farmers, moonshine distillers, barbers, horse- 
doctors, millers, tailors, druggists and livery-stable proprietors. 
There were schoolteachers and preachers in profusion, black 
and white. There were negroes by the score, a few of them 
educated but most of them grossly and pitifully illiterate) 
Some of the negroes did not know what state they lived in; 
many of them went by two or three different names, as their 

The Congressional Investigation 301 

fancy guided them. This multipHcity of names was a constant 
source of confusion to the investigators from the North, who 
never seemed quite able to understand how a witness could 
refer severally to Tom Wilson and Ike Harper and Charlie 
Johnson and be talking about the same negro all the time. 
One negro preacher who called himself Isaac the Apostle was 
summoned, and gravely recorded on the record as 'Isaac A. 
Postle' and his wife as 'Mrs. Postle.' A negro known as Doc 
Huskie was entered as Doctor Huskie, and the examining 
Senator politely asked him: 'Are you a physician?' to which 
the grinning negro replied: 'I ain't no doctor; they just calls 
me doctor.' 

Members of the committee were frequently baffled by the 
colloquial expressions of the witnesses, particularly the negroes. 
'He got a deef and dumb letter,' one of them stated, whereupon 
he was interrupted by a bewildered Senator who asked: 'He 
got a what?' 'A deef and dumb letter,' the negro repeated. 
'You know — a letter without no name signed to it.' 

Another source of confusion was the manner in which so 
many of the negro witnesses, unfamiliar with the intricacies 
of the Gregorian calendar, would set the time of some occur- 
rence. In Georgia a witness told how some event took place 
at 'goober digging time.' 'And when do you dig goobers?' 
patiently inquired one of the urban committeemen. 'In the 
spring or in the fall?' Other witnesses would use such expres- 
sions as 'It was along about wheat sowing time'; or 'It was just 
after the crops was laid by'; or 'It was along about the time we 
plowed corn the second time.' And it took the members of the 
committee a long time to understand that when a man in the 
South said 'evening' he meant the whole period of time be- 
tween noon and dark. One negro explained his uncertainty 
about the time of an event by saying: 'I can't keep no books — 
I can't read nor write my own name, much less keep books; 
but it was in April some time.' 

302 Invisible Empire 

The volubility and rambling garrulity of the negro witnesses 
frequently exhausted the patience of the investigators, but they 
were seldom successful in their efforts to make a loquacious 
negro witness come to the point without wandering over a 
lot of extraneous territory. 'Never mind all those details; get on 
with your story,' the investigators would wearily interrupt; 
but the average negro witness valued too highly this one gor- 
geous opportunity to tell his story to an appreciative audience, 
and he generally insisted on going into all the most elaborate 
details of what the Ku Klux said and did to him and what he 
said and did to them. And, of course, he invariably protested 
his entire innocence of any offense which might have incurred 
the Ku Klux displeasure. 

*I don't know anything that I had said or done that injured 
anyone, further than being a radical in that part of the land,' 
said WilUam Coleman (colored) of Winston County, Mississippi, 
and then went on with a typically rambling and attenuated 
story, from which no details were omitted, no matter how 
irrelevant. *As for interrupting anyone,' he continued, 'I 
didn't; for I had plenty of my own of anything that I wanted 
myself I had done bought my land and paid for it, and I had 
a great deal of hogs; I had eighteen head of hogs to kill this fall. 
I had twelve head of sheep, and one good milk cow, and a 
yearling, and the cow had a right young calf again, and I had 
my mule and my filly, and all of it was paid for but my mule, 
and I had my brother hired to pay for him. It was like I was 
getting the mule from you, and you wanted a hand to work the 
value of the mule out in work.' 

Here the chairman interrupted him in an effort to get him 
back on the subject: 'Did any of the Ku Klux come to your 
house?' And Coleman was off again: 

'They did. They come about a half hour or more before 
day, as nigh as I can recollect, by my brains being frightened 
at their coming up this kind of way. They were shooting and 

The Congressional Investigation 303 

going on at me through the house, and when they busted the 
door open, coming in shooting, I was frightened, and I can 
only tell you as nigh as my recollection will afford at this time 
that it was about a half hour to day. None of the shot hit me, 
but they aimed to hit me; but I had one door just like that at 
the side of the house and the other at this side, and there was 
the chimney, and there was my bed in that corner opposite, 
and they came first to that door (illustrating) and hollered 
"Hallo"; bum, bum, bum on the lock. I jumped up and said 
"Hallo." Then one at the door said "Raise a light in there." 
"What for; who is you?" I said. He says, "Raise a light in there, 
God damn you; or I'll come in there and smoke my pipe in 
your ear." He said that, just so. I said, "Is that you. Uncle 
Davy?" Said he, "No, God damn you, it isn't Uncle Davy; 
open that door." Says I, "I am not going to open my door to 
turn nobody on me that won't tell who they are before I do it. 
Who are you?" He says, "God damn you, we didn't come to 
tell you who we are." 

*I was peeping through the little hole in the door. I had 
bored a gimlet hole about as big as that pen to put a string 
through, and had a latch inside so that when I had been off at 
work anywhere and happened to come home at night I could 
open the door without my wife having to get up, and she would 
put the string through the door and I would pull it and that 
was the way I would get in. So I looked through this hole and 
I saw men standing out there with horns and faces on all of 
them, and they all had great long cow-tails down the breast. 
(I said it was a cow-tail; it was hair, and it was right white.) 
They told me they rode from Shiloh in two hours, and come 
to kill me. 

*They shot right smart into the house before they got in, 
but how many times I don't know, they shot so fast outside; 
but when they come in they didn't have but three loads to 
shoot. I know by the way they tangled about in the house 

304 Invisible Empire 

they would have put it in me if they had had it; but they only 
shot three times in the house. The men behind me had busted 
through that door; both doors were busted open. By the time 
the fellows at the back door had got in that door, those fellows 
at the front door busted in and they all met in the middle of the 
floor, and I didn't have a thing to fight with, only a little piece 
of ax-handle; and when I started from the first door to the 
second, pieces of the door flew and met me. I jumped for a 
piece of ax-handle and fought them, squandering about, and 
they were knocking about me with guns and firing balls that 
cut several holes in my head. The notches is in my head 

'I dashed about among them, but they knocked me down 
several times. Every time I would get up they would knock 
me down again. I saw they were going to kill me, and I turned 
in and laid there after they had knocked me down so many 
times. The last time they knocked me down I laid there a 
good while before I moved, and when I had strength I jumped 
to split between a man's legs that was standing over me, and 
as I jumped they struck at me jumping between his legs, and 
they struck him and he hollered, "Don't hit me, God damn 
you"; but they done knocked him down then, though they 
hadn't knocked him so he couldn't talk. They surrounded 
me on the floor and tore my shirt off. Some had me by the 
legs and some by the arms and neck and anywhere, just like 
dogs string out a coon, and they took me out to the big road 
before my gate and whipped me until I couldn't move or 
holler or do nothing but just lay there like a log, and every 
lick they hit me I grunted just like a mule when he is stalled 
fast and whipped.' 

Interrogated as to the reasons assigned for whipping him, 
Coleman continued: *They told me, "God damn you, when 
you meet a white man in the road, lift your hat. I'll learn you, 
God damn you, that you are a nigger and not to be going about 

The Congressional Investigation 305 

like you thought yourself a white man. You calls yourself like 
you was a white man, God damn you." But here is what I 
put it to: Because I had my filly; I had bought her to ride, 
not to stand in the stable, but to ride when I got ready, like 
you would do with your property. When I bought her I bought 
her for S75. She was not nigh grown, a little thing with flaxen 
mane and tail, and light cream-color, and I would get on my 
filly on a Saturday evening and ride. I would work until 
Saturday evening, but I won't work no longer for no man, 
for my own work or for nobody else, unless it is mighty urgent; 
then I will go on until night. But if it is nothing but work, 
straight along, I will work until Saturday at twelve o'clock, 
and I will strike off then. I believe if a man does it all over the 
world, he can make an honest living and put his work to good 

But at length, worn out by all this tedious and interminable 
narrative, the chairman interrupted to say: 

'Leave out all those little particulars and come to the point.' 
Whereupon Coleman, in injured dignity, retorted: 

'I have to tell it going along straight, and if I do I will tell 
you the whole truth; but if you push me over as I am going 
along, I will get out of the way and tell no truth, because I will 
not go straight through with it.' So the defeated chairman 
crumpled and said weakly: 

'Take your own way and go on.' And Coleman went on, 
telHng of his own troubles until he had wrung the last gory 
detail out of that, and then continuing to tell of all the other 
Ku Klux victims he had ever heard about. Sol Triplett, a 
brother in the church, had been killed — 'by the Ku Klux, 
so said to be,' although not disguised in any way. He did not 
know why Sol was killed. 'I lived so far from him, when I got 
the chance to go down there I had enough to talk about about 
the church affairs, without raking up those scattering things 
about what had been done in the neighborhood.' If the church 

3o6 Invisible Empire 

needed a new roof, or if there was a fish-fry or a basket picnic 
to be arranged, how could anybody be expected to have time 
to devote to delving into the cause of the demise of Brother 
Sol Triplett? Then there was the case of another brother in 
the church, Mose Bird. Mose had had the bad judgment to 
get himself embroiled in an altercation with a white man 
named Jim Boyd Hughes, a reputed member of the Ku Klux. 
As Coleman related it, with graphic brevity: *They had a little 
falling out about something. Mose, he knocked Jim Boyd on 
the head with a rock and cut his head open. And the first 
thing anybody knows, Mose Bird was dead. Nobody heard 
hide nor hair of Mose Bird since.' Was he afraid to go back 
to Winston County? he was finally asked. And Coleman 
climaxed his dramatic if tedious story with the eloquent declara- 
tion: 'I wouldn't go back there if I had a gold piece of land 
there. My life is better to me than anything there. I would 
not go back there if there was gold there higher than one of 
these pine trees.' 

Some of the negroes made good witnesses and told graphic 
and convincing stories which had the ring of truth. Some had 
very obviously been coached. Some became hopelessly tangled 
in their own lies upon cross-examination. Fairly typical of 
this type of testimony was that of an ignorant old negro preacher 
named George Roper who was the principal witness called to 
appear before the committee in Huntsville, Alabama, to tell 
them about conditions there. In the course of his direct testi- 
mony, which was of a rambling, self-laudatory nature, he 
remarked that he had been offered his hat full of money *to 
vote on the other side.' When cross-examined by Mr. Beck 
there ensued the following illuminating exchange of questions 
and evasive and non-responsive answers: 

*Who was it offered you your hat full of money to vote the 
Democratic ticket?' 

*Nobody. I told the boys around: "Boys, have good principles; 

The Congressional Investigation 307 

hold your head up right; for if I was offered today my hat full 
of money for my principles, I would not sell it.'" 

*You said: "I wouldn't tell a He for nothing, for I refused 
my hat full of money to vote on the other side" ' said Mr. Beck, 
reading from the stenographic record. *Why did you make 
that statement yesterday?' And George, thinking that the 
gendeman was just quoting what he had said from memory, 

*Well, sir, you misunderstood me fairly. I said to the colored 
people that I wouldn't take my hat full of money. I refused 
my hat full of money for my principles, that is what I said. 
You misunderstood me fairly.' 

'Can you read or write?' asked Mr. Beck, starting off on 
another tack. 

*No, sir.' 

*How do you get your information sufficient to be a poHtical 

*Well, sir, from going and seeking to God, for what Httle 
wisdom I have — mother's wisdom; I have got no learning. 
I haven't learning as much as a school-boy, but seeking to 
God night and day for what Htde I have got, and I wouldn't 
tell you nor no man a He, for I have been tried; and the reason 
I said so was because the boys were doubtful, and didn't know 
which way they was going, and that is the time my mother's 
wisdom come in, and I said "Boys, come here and vote the 
ticket right, for this morning I wouldn't take a hat fuU of money 
for my principles." ' 

'Being unable to read or write, and having none of the 
ordinary sources of obtaining information, you looked to the 
Lord for it and got it?' 

*Yes, sir.' 

*The Lord heard your prayers?' 

*Yes, sir; I can teU you where he fetched me.' 


3^^ Invisible Empire 

*He fetched me from hell's dark door to the marvelous light, 
so that things I thought in sinful days, when I came to the light 
of God, I said all that is fallen back of me, and now I start 
myself right before everybody.' 

'Do you know of any other cases of colored people in this 
land where the Lord has instilled political knowledge into 

*Yes, sir. Many has come through the way, and some of 
them said the Lord sent them to preach the Gospel, but they 
can't read or write.' 

*I can understand how He interferes with preaching, but 
what object did you think He had in interfering with politics and 
filling your mind with political wisdom?' 

'Because why. I fought for my liberty and have been all 
through the Army, and what did my captain and colonel tell 
me? "George," he said, "the day you are turned out of service, 
be right, be pure to God and just to all men. Hold up your 
head; touch not and handle nothing of the unclean thing." ' 

'Whatever you know outside of what the Lord gave you, you 
picked up from other people's talk?' 

'Not much from other poeple, because they can't learn me.' 

*You can not read or write?' 

'But the pureness of heart must come from God.' And the 
cross-examining congressman gave up. 

There were numerous witnesses examined who were sus- 
pected of being members of the Ku Klux Klan; but, aside from 
those who had already confessed and turned state's evidence in 
some criminal suit, they mostly stood up well under cross- 
examination. They entered a blunt denial of any knowledge of 
the Ku Klux Klan or its works generally, and refused to be per- 
turbed by pointed questioning; but occasionally one would lose 
his composure under the strain, as did Barnett Russell, a young 
farmer who lived in the country near Spartanburg, South 
Carolina. He was getting along swimmingly in his testimony 

The Congressional Investigation 309 

until suddenly confronted with the information that a previous 
witness, a negro named Julius Cantrell, had sworn that Russell 
confessed to him that he was a member of the Ku Klux and had 
been out with them on several of their raids. When informed of 
Cantrell's accusation, Russell lost all his sang-froid and exploded 
in a Homeric tirade of profane indignation. 'He has sworn to a 
lie,' he burst out, 'as sure as God Almighty stands in heaven this 
day.' Then, rising from his seat on the witness stand, he con- 
tinued excitedly and in a loud voice: 'I will stand up on a stack 
of Bibles and swear it till I die. If he has not sworn a lie essen- 
tially, God damn me. He swore a lie, the God damned nigger to 
hell. The niggers is here for nothing but to swear lies. Wit- 
nesses has been brung up to this place of the lowest-down 
character that can be brung up in Spartanburg district, and I 
can prove it by hundreds; I'll be God damn my soul.' Stunned 
by this torrent of irate and sulphuric incoherence. Chairman 
Scott could only admonish him weakly: *That will do; sit down. 
Remember where you are. We have had enough of that.' 

Some of the white witnesses were very plainly not telling all 
that they knew, notably General Forrest and other suspected 
leaders in the Ku Klux organization. As one of the members of 
the investigating committee caustically remarked, 'They prac- 
ticed disguise in their sentiments and conversation as much as in 
their costume' ; and there was abundant evidence of this in the 
testimony of many of those examined by the committee. Some 
of these were notoriously active in it and generally reputed to be 
officials in it; but the most rabid carpetbagger could not have 
been more emphatic in denial and censure than some of them. 

The weaving circumlocution of General Forrest was by no 
means unique. General James H. Clanton, for example, an ex- 
general in the Confederate army, testified that he did not think 
there had ever been an organization in his state, Alabama, 
known as the Ku Klux Klan. There had been some disorders 
by disguised men, so he had heard; but, he said, 'I infer they 

310 Invisible Empire 

are reckless, irresponsible characters.' Pressed for • specific 
instances of outrages, he mentioned one or two of the more 
notorious affairs, concerning which he said he knew none of the 
details, and went on: 'I have heard of other outrages, but 
mostly by negroes. In the county of Macon, Jim AUston, a 
colored Republican member of the legislature, was shot in his 
bed as he and his wife were retiring. He charged a colored rival 
in the legislature and two accomplices with shooting him.' There 
were white men who did such things, too, General Clanton ad- 
mitted; but he declared: 'So help me, God; I have never known 
one who was concerned in it.' 

In view of this emphatic and unequivocal disavowal, there is 
probably no foundation for the widely accepted theory that 
General Clanton was the first Grand Dragon of the Realm of 
Alabama in the original Invisible Empire — unless we bear in 
mind the ingenious casuistry of the Ku Klux by which they 
justified themselves in saying that they were not members of the 
Ku Klux Klan because they themselves never called it by that 
name. According to popular belief in Alabama General 
Clanton was succeeded as Grand Dragon in that state by 
General William H. Forney; but this also must have been a 
popular error, as General Forney, when examined, disclaimed 
all knowledge of it. Asked the point-blank question: *Is there 
any secret organization of disguised persons whose purpose it is 
to resist the law?' General Forney blandly replied: *There is no 
organization (in Alabama) to resist the law.' Inasmuch as the 
original Ku Klux Klan had been formally disbanded nearly 
two years before this question was asked and answered, and in- 
asmuch as no member of the Ku Klux would ever admit that 
its purpose was to resist the law. General Forney was perhaps 
technically truthful in his reply, even though he may have given 
a slightly false impression. 

Such denials, evasions and equivocations were characteristic 
of the testimony of all the suspected leaders of the Ku Klux in 

The Congressional Investigation 3 1 1 

the various states and communities where hearings were held. 
For men so prominent in public life and well informed on all 
other topics, they displayed a surprising lack of knowledge about 
the operations of the Ku Klux Klan. *See no evil; hear no evil; 
think no evil' was their motto; and they simply could not bring 
themselves to believe that there existed any such band of 
marauders as the Ku Klux Klan. 

With all its inherent shortcomings and weaknesses, the pub- 
lished report of the investigating committee is a veritable 
treasure-house of information regarding the social and political 
conditions existing in the South during the Reconstruction; but 
to arrive at a proper appreciation of its value, the wheat of the 
truth must be carefully winnowed out of the chaff of rumor and 
mendacity; and the testimony of each witness must be con- 
sidered and weighed in the light of his own background, 
character and personal interests. 

It is also important to know something of the personnel of 
the committee itself, and for that purpose a brief sketch of each 
member is included in the Appendix. 




or Otherwise, one of the first things we naturally want to know 
is: Who was at the head of it; who was its chief officer or guiding 
spirit? We have seen that in the formal organization of the 
Ku Klux Klan the ruler of the Empire was the Grand Wizard. 
But who was the Grand Wizard? It required an executive 
officer of more than ordinary ability to head such a movement 
as this and maintain it successfully in the face of the United 
States Government and an army of occupation. It required 
not only an able man, but a man of lion-hearted courage, a 
bold and unafraid spirit. 

In the nature of things, such an organization as the Ku Klux 
Klan could have no written records. It left no archives to 
which the curious researcher may refer. There is, therefore, 
no documentary evidence to support it, but the statement may 
be safely and authoritatively made that the first, last and only 
Grand Wizard of the original and only Ku Klux Klan was 
General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the celebrated Confederate 
cavalry leader who was the idol of the South. 

There is a story to the effect that when the Klan was first 
put on an organized basis there was a movement started to 
induce General Robert E. Lee to become its head, and that a 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 313 

committee went to Virginia to lay the matter before him. 
He, so the story goes, told the committee that he was physically 
unable to take an active part in such a movement but that he 
approved of the idea and would give it his support, although 
his support must be invisible. From this remark, according to 
this story, originated the designation *The Invisible Empire' 
by which the order came to be known. This story has had 
more or less wide currency in the South; but Douglas S. Free- 
man, the foremost authority on the life of Lee, after studying 
and investigating the tradition dismissed it as having no credible 

It has always been the understanding of all Southern people, 
however, that General Forrest was the head of the Ku Klux. 
Men known to have been members of the Klan have been 
unanimous in ascribing to him this office; his own family's 
traditions are to that effect; and at least one avowed member 
of the Klan in Nashville has left written testimony that he was 
present when the office was bestowed on Forrest. 

Doctor John A. Wyeth, General Forrest's foremost biographer, 
said that in writing his biography he gave careful thought to 
the general supposition that Forrest was the Grand Wizard of 
the Ku Klux, but came to the conclusion that Forrest was not 
a member and took no part in the organization of the order. 
Doctor Wyeth expressed it as his opinion that Forrest was too 
shrewd to have placed himself in this position, since he was 
among the first who would have been suspected of complicity 
in such an activity. This, however, was only Doctor Wyeth' s 
own personal and unsupported view. 

Sharply at variance with Doctor Wyeth's opinion is the 
story that has always been told, and generally believed, in 
Tennessee. According to this story. General Forrest when he 
first heard of the activities of the organization called the Ku 
Klux in Middle Tennessee left his home in Memphis and jour- 
neyed to Nashville to look into the matter. In Nashville he 

314 Invisible Empire 

straightway looked up Captain John W. Morton, who had been 
his chief of artillery during the war. 

*John,' he said to Morton in his usual direct manner, 'I've 
heard about this Ku Klux Klan operating in Nashville or 
somewhere around here, and I know that if there is such a 
thing going on you are in it. I want to join.' 

Captain Morton evaded the issue by inviting his old chieftain 
to go driving with him in his buggy before they started to 
talking about the Ku Klux. When they reached a secluded 
place on the outskirts of the city, Captain Morton suggested 
that they alight and take a walk through the woods. When 
they were completely out of sight of the road, Morton stopped 
and said: 'General, do you want to join the Ku Klux?' Forrest 
replied, somewhat testily: 'Didn't I tell you that that's what 
I came over here for?' Whereupon Morton, without further 
parley, said: 'Raise your right hand'; and then and there the 
preliminary oath of allegiance to the Invisible Empire was 
administered to its future Grand Wizard. 

Morton explained that this was as far as he could go in the 
matter at that time, but told Forrest that that would be suf- 
ficient to admit him to the meeting of the Den to be held that 
night in Room No. 10 at the Maxwell House. Forrest attended 
the meeting that night, so the story goes, and was there made 
a full-fledged member of the order of which he was soon to be 
the recognized head. 

A former member of the Ku Klux now living in Middle 
Tennessee relates a somewhat different version of this episode 
which he says he got from the lips of Captain Morton himself, 
who was an old crony of his. According to this story, one of 
the first initiates into the Klan at Pulaski was General George 
W. Gordon who, immediately recognizing its great possibilities 
as a regulatory body, went immediately to Memphis and told 
about it to General Forrest, who declared emphatically: 
'That's a good thing; that's a damn good thing. We can use 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 315 

that to keep the niggers in their place.' Whereupon General 
Gordon not only swore Forrest in as a member of the order, 
but immediately conferred on him the office of Grand Wizard — 
by what authority is not quite clear. Later, so this story goes, 
Forrest visited Nashville and sought out Morton and, as a joke, 
started to quizzing him about *this thing they call the Kookles 
or the Clucks or something like that.' Then when Morton 
took him to the secluded spot in the woods and offered to ad- 
minister the oath to him, Forrest slapped him on the back, and, 
laughing uproariously, said: 'Why, you damned Uttle fool, 
don't you know I'm the head of the whole damned thing?' 

With all proper respect to the teller of this yarn, if Captain 
Morton told him any such story he doubtless did so with tongue 
in cheek or as a joke on himself; for that is certainly not the story 
he told when he started to putting things down in black and 
white. Morton wrote a book in 1909 entitled Torrest's Ar- 
tillery' in which he tells the story, a highly colorful and dramatic 
one, of his services under the General during the war. No direct 
reference to his own or Forrest's connection with the Ku Klux 
Klan is included in the text of the book; but in the Appendix 
there is naively inserted an extraneous unsigned treatise en- 
titled The Ku Klux Klan,' which includes a lengthy extract 
from an article written by Thomas Dixon, Jr., for the Sep- 
tember, 1905, issue of the Metropolitan Magazine, in which is 
given a circumstantial story of Forrest's introduction into the 
mysteries of the Klan by Captain Morton as related. Mr. Dixon 
has since stated that he obtained his information directly from 
Captain Morton; and the fact that Morton included it in his 
book gives tacit endorsement to its authenticity, although even 
in 1909 it was not considered permissible for an ex-member of 
the mysterious brotherhood to admit openly that he had taken 
part in its activities forty years before or to give direct testimony 
as to the identity of the Grand Wizard. As a matter of fact, 
the extract from Doctor Dixon's article in Captain Morton's 

3i6 Invisible Empire 

book is so amended with changes, corrections and interpola- 
tions as to be virtually Morton's own composition; and it cer- 
tainly appears to have been his intention to give to the public 
this version of Forrest's initiation. Aside from Forrest himself, 
Captain Morton probably knew more about his former com- 
mander's connection with the order than any other person, as 
Forrest held him in the highest esteem and was his close friend 
and confidant; and there seems to be not the slighest reasonable 
doubt as to the fact that Forrest joined the Ku Klux Klan in 
Nashville, having gone there for that specific purpose, and 
that he later became its chief commanding officer. 

Certain it is that when the Congressional Investigating Com- 
mittee began to hold its series of hearings to get at the bottom 
of the Ku Klux matter, if they could, they lost no time in calling 
General Forrest before them to testify. They thought they had 
a pretty good idea of the identity of the head man of the order 
and they wanted to look him in the eye and talk with him. 
There is a tradition in Tennessee that shortly after General 
Forrest emerged from the ordeal of examination and cross- 
examination by the committee he was encountered by a friend 
who asked him what he had been doing and that he replied, 
promptly and proudly: 'I have been lying like a gentleman.' 
However much truth there may be in this reported conversa- 
tion, it must be said that the printed record of the investigation 
shows that General Forrest was a good deal less than entirely 
frank with the committee, to put the mildest possible construc- 
tion on his contradictions, evasions and strange lapses of 
memory. The various members of the committee pursued him 
relentlessly, but they were never able to pin him down. 

Asked the point-blank question whether he had any actual 
knowledge of any such organization as the Ku Klux, General 
Forrest guardedly replied: T had, from information from 
others.' The committee, of course, was anxious to learn the 
names of these 'others'; but the best Forrest could do, after a 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 3 1 7 

lengthy round of verbal sparring, was to recall that one of 
those from whom he had received such information was a man 
by the name of Saunders. Mr. Saunders, however, it developed 
after a lot of questioning, had left Tennessee and moved to 
Asheville, North Carolina, where he had met the tragic fate of 
being poisoned by his wife. When the committee hopefully 
pressed on, seeking to ascertain the names of more of the 
'others,' General Forrest by a stupendous effort of the memory 
recalled that he had also heard the matter discussed by two 
men who had 'gone out of the country.' The inquisitor bored 
in and the General finally recalled that 'one was named Jones.' 
Encouraged by this enlightening recollection. Chairman John 
Scott asked: 'What was his first name?' To which General 
Forrest replied, frankly and fearlessly: 'He has gone to Brazil, 
and has been there for two or three years.' Not dismayed, 
Senator Scott insisted : 'What was the name of the other?' But 
General Forrest could reply only: 'I am trying to think who 
he was; I can not call his name to mind now.' 

At length recognizing the fact that this line of questioning 
was getting nowhere. Senator Stevenson interjected: 'I should 
Hke to have it understood that this witness will give us these 
names as soon as he can remember them. If he can not re- 
member them in time to appear before the committee and 
give them, then he will send in writing to the chairman a list 
of such names as he may hereafter remember.' To this Chair- 
man Scott responded dryly: 'That will be very desirable'; but 
the record does not disclose that General Forrest ever sent in 
any such list of names. 

Under close and persistent questioning he admitted that 
there actually had been such an organization as the Ku Klux, 
but he attempted to minimize the significance of his admission 
by expressing the view that it did not exist anywhere except in 
Middle Tennessee and perhaps in a 'small portion of West 
Tennessee.' As to its name, he said: 'Some called them Pale 

3i8 Invisible Empire 

Faces; some called them Ku Klux. I believe they were under 
two names.' Then later, when the committee was trying to 
pin him down as to just where he had heard of the Ku Klux, 
this interesting colloquy ensued: 

*Did you not hear of it in Louisiana?' 

*No, sir.' 

*Did you hear of the Knights of the White Camelia there?' 

*Yes, they were reported to be there.' 

*Were you ever a member of that order?' 

1 was.' 

*You were a member of the Knights of the White Camelia?' 

*No, sir; I never was a member of the Knights of the White 

'What order was it that you were a member of?' 

'An order they called the Pale Faces, a different order from 

Having already testified that Pale Faces and Ku Klux were 
two names for the same thing, this seemed to identify General 
Forrest as being at least a member of the order of which he was 
the reputed chief officer, but it was impossible to trap him into 
making any such direct admission. 

Had he ever seen a copy of the constitution of the Ku Klux? 
Yes, he saw one once in Memphis; some anonymous person 
sent it to him through the mails, he did not know why, and he 
had burned it. 

'What was the name of the organization given in that con- 


'It was called Ku Klux?' 

'No, sir; it was not called Ku Klux. I do not think there 
was any name given to it.' 

'No name given to it?' 

'No, sir; I do not think there was. As well as I recollect, 
there were three stars in place of a name.' 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 319 

When the committee continued to quiz him insistently about 
this printed constitution, asking question after question con- 
cerning its provisions (his faulty memory failing to recall the 
desired information in each instance), General Forrest made 
one highly significant slip of the tongue. 

After a long succession of *I do not recollect,' *I can not say,' 
*I think not,' and similar evasions, he said: *If I had thought 
that this thing would have come up in that shape, I would 
have tried to have gotten hold of one of these prescripts, as 
they were called, to give to you.' 

The thoughtless use of the word 'prescript' provided evidence 
that the forgetful General knew more about the matter than he 
was willing to admit. Up to that time they had been talking 
about a 'constitution'; no use had been made of the word 
'prescript,' the name by which it was known among the Ku 
Klux. The committee had in some way come into possession 
of one of the official Prescripts, and when General Forrest 
let his foot slip they pursued this line of attack with avid- 

'Did you act upon that prescript?' they asked him; to which 
he replied politely and positively: 'No, sir.' But the committee, 
with the Prescript in their hands, knew some of the duties of 
the Grand Wizard and they pressed him closely: 'Did you 
take any steps for organizing under it?' Whereupon Forrest 
burst out: 'I do not think I am compelled to answer any question 
that would implicate me in anything; I believe the law does 
not require that I should do anything of that sort.' 'Do you 
place your declination to answer upon that ground?' Chairman 
Scott asked suavely; but Forrest, recovering his composure, 
replied: 'I do not,' and continued his squirming, non-responsive 
answers to the committee's questions. 

Asked if there were any organizations of the order in his 
neighborhood, he said he presumed there were but he could 
not recollect any of the members. Nettled by his continued 

320 Invisible Empire 

vagueness, the chairman asked: *Gan you tell us who were the 
members, or any single member, of that organization?' 'Well, 
that is a question I do not want to answer now,' replied General 

Further pressed, he at length admitted that he knew the 
signs and passwords (somebody had told them to him) although 
he had *never seen the organization together.' 'It was,' he said, 
'a matter I knew very little about. I had very little to do with it. 
All my efforts were addressed to stop it, disband it, and prevent 

They pounced greedily on this. 'Did you want to suppress 
that organization?' he was asked. Then Forrest let his foot 
slip again and carelessly told the truth: 'Yes, sir; I did suppress 
it.' 'How?' 'Had it broken up and disbanded.' 'What in- 
fluence did you exert in disbanding it?' But Forrest had had 
enough of his little experiment with telling the truth. Instead 
of stating what would have been the fact: 'I was the Grand 
Wizard of the Klan and, acting on my authority, I issued an 
order that the Klan be disbanded,' he said lamely: 'I talked 
with different people that I believed were connected with it, 
and urged its disbandment.' Perhaps exhausted by their 
unsuccessful efforts to wring any helpful information from him, 
the committee let it go at that. 

Somewhat at variance with General Forrest's testimony 
before the committee, however, was an interview with him 
which was printed in the Cincinnati Commercial under date of 
September i, 1868. This interview with the man who was 
popularly believed to be the head of the great Southern secret 
society created a nation-wide sensation; and Forrest promptly 
wrote a letter to the Cincinnati paper pointing out certain 
alleged inaccuracies in the interview — modifying certain 
too-frank admissions in it. 

In the interview printed in the paper the correspondent 
stated that he asked General Forrest if there was such an 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 32 1 

organization as the Ku Klux in Tennessee at that time, to 
which Forrest was said to have repHed: 

'Well, sir, there is such an organization, not only in Ten- 
nessee but all over the South, and its numbers have not been 

What are its numbers. General?' 

'In Tennessee there are over 40,000; in all the Southern 
States about 550,000 men.' 

That may have been a fairly accurate statement of the facts, 
so far as General Forrest knew at the time he was interviewed; 
but when he saw it printed in cold black and white he evidently 
realized that it indicated that he knew too much about the 
organization, and in his letter of correction to the paper he 
said: 'I said it was reported, and I believed the report, that 
there are ^40,000 Ku Klux in Tennessee, and I believe the 
organization stronger in other states.' Confronted with this 
on the witiiess stand, General Forrest blandly said: 'So far 
as numbers were concerned, I made no statement.' But 
Senator Stevenson was not satisfied with this and, despite his 
denial, insisted on asking him if he had not told the interviewer 
that he believed there were forty thousand Ku Klux in Ten- 
nessee; General Forrest, however, stuck to his latest story: 
'I did not, for I had no more idea than you have how many 
there were.' 

The investigating committee's questioning of General Forrest 
brought them out the same hole they went in; but there was 
not a man on the committee who did not believe when Forrest 
stepped down from the stand that, despite his denials and 
evasions, they had been talking with the Grand Wizard of the 
Invisible Empire. 

In the way of corroborative evidence, it is interesting to 
observe that the Prescript directly charges the Grand Wizard 
with the duty of establishing new Dens throughout the Empire; 
and, by some strange coincidence, new Dens seemed to blossom 

322 Invisible Empire 

and flourish wherever General Forrest went in the South. 
His home was in Memphis, and the Ku Klux organization 
quickly fanned out through the counties of eastern Arkansas. 
He had some 'insurance business' in Athens, Alabama, shortly 
after his initiation, and the Ku Klux began to ride in that 
territory soon after Forrest had concluded his insurance busi- 
ness and gone home. While engaged in his railroad contracting 
business he had his business office in Aberdeen, in Mississippi, 
and Aberdeen is almost in the exact geographical center of 
the Ku Klux territory in that state. Forrest also had insurance 
business calling him to Atlanta early in 1868, and there was an 
outburst of Ku Klux activity immediately thereafter. Business 
of some mysterious nature took him to the Garolinas during 
this period, and his visit was closely followed by the appearance 
of the Klan in those states. 

In fact, it was remarkable how General Forrest seemed to 
turn up at those places where the Ku Klux were prominently 
active. After the Klan had made a raid on Judge William T. 
Blackford in Greensboro, Alabama, and warned him to leave 
the state, Blackford testified, he was visited by 'a Confederate 
general, a warm personal friend' of his, who helped to protect 
him and who told him an impressive story of the powerful 
ramifications of the Ku Klux Klan and the impossibility of 
any individual's successfully opposing such a formidable organ- 
ization. According to Blackford, this anonymous Confederate 
general stated that he had personally organized the Klan in 
Arkansas, and further told him of its extensive membership 
and its powerful connections. Every jury, the general was 
quoted as saying, had one or more Ku Klux on it; and one of 
the functions of the order was to provide an alibi for any 
member accused of any disorder. He also told of the Ku Klux 
practice of having its raids conducted by members of some 
Klan in another town or county, for the purpose of preventing 
identification. Pressed to reveal the identity of this ex-general 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 323 

who knew so much about the Ku Klux, Judge Blackford said 
it was a confidential matter, as his informant was a personal 
friend; and as far as he would go in the way of identifying him 
was to say that he was an ex-Confederate general and that his 
business brought him to that county a good deal of the time. 

Judge Blackford, however, need not have been so punctilious 
about mentioning the name of his friend the Confederate 
general. General Forrest in his own testimony before the 
Investigating Committee referred to the Alabama incident 
without reservation, saying that *Judge Blackford came to me 
for protection and I did protect him.' Blackford was a scala- 
wag, who had served for a while in the Confederate army; and 
although Forrest recognized him for what he was, a renegade 
and a trouble-maker, he maintained a semblance of friendly 
relations with him. *He had given a great deal of bad advice 
to the negroes and kept them in confusion,' Forrest testified. 
'He had large meetings of the negroes at his house, firing 
around and shooting, and it had become very dissatisfactory 
to the people. He was a drinking man, and when drunk 
would make threats.' The General, however, was a practical 
man and used Blackford to advantage in marshaling Republi- 
can support for his Memphis-Selma railroad. When eyebrows 
were raised at his making use of such a man and associating 
with him, Forrest said: 'I tried to excuse Blackford on the 
ground that he was drunk. I wanted the subscriptions and 
tried to carry all the votes I could. I set out by saying raihoads 
had no politics.' 

The fiery editor of the Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor, who 
was Cyclops of his local Den, vigorously criticized General 
Forrest for being seen in public with such a malodorous char- 
acter as Judge Blackford, and even went so far as to hint that 
Forrest had gone over to the Radicals. Forrest replied in a 
wrathful open letter that his critic did not know what he was 
talking about, and invited him to niind his own business. 

324 Invisible Empire 

Meanwhile, Captain John G. Stokes, the scalawag editor of 
the Montgomery State Journal, launched an attack on Forrest 
from another angle, charging that his railroad business was a 
sham and a subterfuge and that while he was going about the 
country stump-speaking, apparently for the purpose of further- 
ing the prospects for his railroad, he was really engaged in 
organizing the Ku Klux Klan throughout the South 'prepara- 
tory to pushing the country into another rebellion.' The 
chastened and repentant editor of the Monitor rushed to the 
defense of his Grand Wizard and former military commander 
and denounced the Montgomery editor's story as a *mare's 
nest,' going on to say: 'What terror the scallawags must be in 
of the great "Wizard of the Saddle" when their guilty con- 
sciences cause them to trump up such absurd notions. We 
suggest that Stokes at once proceed to collect together his old 
company of "rebels" that he never led before against realities, 
except beyond the reach of "villainous saltpetre," and go in 
pursuit of Forrest and his mythical klan.' 

This thinly veiled reference to Stokes's reputed disgraceful 
retreat from the bloody field of Shiloh, while commanding a 
company of Confederate troops, silenced the Montgomery 
editor temporarily; but all the knowing ones realized that 
Captain Stokes was halfway right in his charges. Forrest's 
interest in the proposed railroad was by no means a mere 
blind. He was sincerely engaged in trying to promote the 
road. The traveling around involved in the promotion work 
did, however, provide an excellent opportunity for furthering 
the Ku Klux work. That a goodly part of the General's time 
was indeed devoted to Ku Klux affairs was emphasized by a 
significant episode at about that time. It had been announced 
that he would visit Tuscaloosa on a specified day in October 
to speak in behalf of his railroad; but it was published in the 
local paper that he would not be able to appear as he had re- 
ceived a telegram from Memphis making it necessary for him 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire 325 

to return to Tennessee, 'as Brownlow has called out his miUtia 
and great trouble is expected, as the Rads require riots to 
bolster up their fallen fortunes.' Evidently Forrest regarded 
the railroad as secondary to the demands of the Klan. Also 
it seems obvious that if he had been a mere innocent bystander 
he would hardly have abandoned his business and hurried back 
to Tennessee because of a threat against the Ku Klux Klan. 

General Nathan Bedford Forrest was, beyond any reasonable 
doubt, the Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire. 




the South during the wild nightmare of the Reconstruction, 
commented on the complacency with which the people ac- 
cepted the existence of the Ku Klux Klan as an active though 
invisible factor in their daily affairs to which they must adjust 
themselves. The extent to which this was true is impressively 
revealed by the ephemera and trivia of the times — things un- 
important in themselves, but reflecting the attitude of the 
people in an intimate and interesting manner. Scanning the 
newspapers and periodicals of those years, it is obvious that 
the name of the Ku Klux — though nobody knew who they 
were — was apparently on every tongue, and they were talked 
about and written about and joked about as flippantly and 
familiarly as any other common phase of everyday life. 

The newspapers of the South were full of Ku Klux news 
and comment, editorials and communications from *Vox 
Populi' and 'Constant Reader' to the editor — nor was this 
comment confined entirely to the field of legitimate news. A 
reading notice in the Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor in April, 
1868, said: * If you wish to keep the Ku Kluxes ofl", buy a supply 
of the Grafton Mineral paint from John Glascock. We see by 
our exchanges that even low-down Rads and Nigs have been 

The Ku Klux Fever 327 

spared whose houses, wagons, etc., were coated with said 
paint.' Mr. Glascock, whose store was located in the ground 
floor of the building in which the Monitor was printed, carried 
an advertisement in the paper in which he mentioned and 
recommended this *Anti-Radical Paint,' and there was evi- 
dently a harmonious working understanding between the 
editorial and advertising departments of this particular paper. 

The mystic initials *K K K' seemed to have an irresistible 
appeal to the imagination of all the people, and their use was 
by no means confined to those who had achieved citizenship 
in the Invisible Empire. Late in March, 1868, the citizens of 
Nashville woke up one morning to find the city plastered with 
posters on every available wall and comer, bearing the three 
dread letters, 'K K K,' prodigious in size and of deathly 
black, followed by an array of blood-red daggers, bleeding 
hearts and a profusion of hog-Latin gibberish. The enraged 
chief of police took one look and ordered them torn down 
instanter and without delay; whereupon, on closer examination, 
it developed that they were merely the clever advertisements 
of an extravaganza called *The Ku Klux Klan' which was to 
be performed at a local theater, the St. Nicholas Varieties. 

Use of the Ku Klux name in advertising was a common 
device in those days. In Nashville, as well as in other places, 
there was a Ku Klux Saloon. The Bay Horse Saloon in Memphis 
boldly advertised that it was Ku Klux headquarters (although 
that honor was disputed by the Pat Cleburne Bar-Room) and 
invited rural Ku Klux to pay the Bay Horse a sociable visit 
when visiting in Memphis. A Memphis lumberman gained 
attention by addressing his advertising appeal directly to the 
Ku Klux, advising them of special prices available to them on 
sash, doors and other building material. Even in Harper's 
Weekly the three K's were featured in the advertisement of 
J. H. Wickes, who was offering for sale a kind of kerosene for 
lamps said to be accident-proof. 'Kommon Kerosene Kills,' 

328 Invisible Empire 

declared Mr. Wickes, with the initial K's of large size, and 
with grinning death's-heads to carry out the sinister motif. 

The newspapers of the time evidently regarded the Ku Klux 
as a good subject for jesting and the robustious humor of the 
day; and one newspaper humorist of that period, an imitation 
Josh Billings who signed himself 'Ally Gator,' dated all his 
letters from the fictitious post-office, 'Ku Klux Cross Roads.' 
Ku Klux jokes and witticisms were common; and, as might 
have been expected, there were the inevitable reports of hens 
who laid eggs bearing the plain and unmistakable marking 
'K K K.' One Georgia hen, spurning such petty and ele- 
mentary performances, was immortalized in an item which 
told how 'A Ku Klux hen in the vicinity of Griffin has recently 
been delivered of an egg upon whose shell in plain letters there 
appear the remarkable words: "Woe unto R. B. Bullock." ' 
Bullock was the hated and oppressive carpetbagger Governor 
of Georgia, who had a penchant for calling out the troops on 
slight provocation, and the news item closed with: 'A large 
detachment of troops will be ordered to that vicinity at once.' 

The extent of the commercialization of the Ku Klux name 
by progressive merchants was remarkable, a specimen being 
provided by the following item which appeared in a Nashville 
paper in June, 1868, under the heading 'K.K.K.K.': 

'The genius and enterprise of some people is truly astound- 
ing. Since the "Ku Klux fever" was at its highest pitch in 
our midst, we have had "Ku Klux music" from the music 
houses, "Ku Klux hats" from furnishing emporiums, "Ku 
Klux cocktails" from the different saloons, together with the 
many little "Ku Klux etceteras" not in mind. And to cap the 
climax we now have the genuine "Ku Klux Klan Knife," 
with the cabalistic letters and the terrible symbols of the order 
on its blade. That sterling firm, Craighead, Breast & Gibson, 
exclusive wholesale hardware merchants, 45 Public Square, 
conceived the happy idea several weeks since and yesterday a 

The Ku Klux Fever 329 

large invoice of their express designing from the transatlantic 
manufacturers, Frederick Ware & Co., Sheffield, England, 
was received at their ware-rooms in this city.' 

The Ku Klux Klan Knives found a ready sale among the 
young men of the South, and an occasional specimen of them 
might be seen occasionally in second-hand shops as late as a 
few years ago. 

The *Ku Klux music' mentioned in this connection afforded 
another evidence of the undisguised popularity of the Ku Klux 
Klan with the native population and the extent of the penetra- 
tion of the Ku Klux fame into the cultural life of the times. 
In Nashville alone there were two pieces of popular music 
published which used the Ku Klux name in their titles; one of 
them, a waltz, was embellished with a lurid and fanciful illustra- 
tion (printed in red ink) of a supposed Ku Klux initiation, the 
initiate, with a rope around his neck, quaking before a horrid 
array of skulls, alligators and other fearsome appurtenances. 
The other, the 'Ku Klux Klan Schottische and Mazurka' 
by R. L. Steinbagen, was more sedately printed in black and 
white, and received this grudgingly complimentary comment 
from the local Republican paper: 'The Ku Klux Klan Schot- 
tische and Mazurka, notwithstanding its name, is a sweet piece; 
and while we must acknowledge our disinclination to be too 
familiar with the K K K's, yet we really have fallen in love 
somewhat with the music. "A rose with any other name will 
smell as sweet." ' 

Practical jokers also found in the Ku Klux idea a fertile 
field for their misdirected energies. Mischievous boys delighted 
in scribbUng warning and threatening letters, signed 'K K K,' 
and leaving them on the doorstep of innocent and inoffensive 
citizens. Not all the joking was done by boys, however, and 
although there was foundation enough for plenty of Ku Klux 
alarums during those troubled days, some of the serious Ku 
Klux scares originated in nothing more dangerous than the 

330 Invisible Empire 

elephantine pranking of some blithe spirit who thought he was 
being funny. In Columbia, South Carolina, at one time there 
was something approaching a panic as the result of the ingrow- 
ing sense of humor of a prominent professional gambler there. 
This gentleman, conscious of the hair-trigger nervousness of 
the carpetbaggers then in control of the capital city and the 
ease with which an alarming rumor might be kindled, induced 
an old countryman named Sheldon tt) go to a merchant in 
Columbia and tell him that he might want to engage feed for 
fifteen hundred men and horses on Friday night of the following 
week, and then go to a livery stable and inquire as to the possi- 
bility of engaging places for fifteen hundred horses for the 
same night. Both the merchant and the livery-stable keeper 
were enjoined to secrecy which, of course, insured their im- 
mediately telling everybody they knew, including the chief 
of police, and soon the town was in a tumult of excitement 
over the impending Ku Klux raid. The local paper took 
cognizance of the incipient panic and attempted to allay the 
people's fears by saying: 


There seems to be a general expectation or fear by the legis- 
lature that the dread and sepulchral Ku Klux Klan will pay 
the State-house a visit to-night or to-morrow. A member of the 
legislature told us with all gravity to-day that they were to 
come to-morrow night, fifteen hundred strong; were to ap- 
proach in four different ways, surround the Capitol and proceed 
upon their bloody work. I heard another telling a crowd of 
members standing in the hall of the House, in the most excited 
manner, how a solitary horseman had rode into the state-house 
yard this morning, galloped up to the front door and inquired 
of parties standing there when the legislature would adjourn; 
and, being informed, wanted to know if fifteen hundred horses 
could be provided with food in town. Such tales are, of course, 

The Ku Klux Fever 331 

absurd, but they plainly indicate the tremulous condition of 
our mighty rulers. 

Despite this reassurance, however, it was several days before 
the carpetbagger legislature was relieved of the fear that they 
were to be overpowered and butchered in the halls of the 
Capitol by the invading Klansmen; and the gambler was so 
elated at the success of bis prank that he closed his faro bank 
for three days in order to devote his undivided attention to a 
bacchanalian celebration of his own keen wit. 

The members of the congressional committees themselves 
sometimes sought reUef from the monotonous pro and con of 
murder, rape and arson by introducing a little levity into the 
proceedings. One of the members of the committee investi- 
gating the elections in Louisiana asked ironically of a negro 
who had testified that he was a Democrat: 'Are you a member 
of the Knights of the White Camelia?' This was a purely 
rhetorical and sarcastic question, since the basic tenet of the 
Knights of the White Camelia was the supremacy of the white 
race, but the ignorant negro took the question at face value 
and innocently answered: *I don't know what that word 
means,' whereupon there ensued this exchange: 

*You have seen the flower, the white camelia, haven't you?' 

'No, sir; I don't know that word. I knew a girl once with 
a name like that; no, her name was just 'Melia.' 

*But she was a Black Cameha, wasn't she?' 

*No, sir, she was pretty near white.' 

Another example of unconscious humor was supplied by 
a young man named E. A. Hightower, who Hved in Warren 
County, Georgia. He testified that he joined the Ku Klux in 
that county in 1869 because he did not want the members to 
think he was opposed to it, but never took much active part 
in its work. He testified about the oath, the grip and the haihng 
signs, and when asked about the password said: *If you were 

332 Invisible Empire 

in distress you were to say "Ambulance"; "Ambulance" was 
the word of distress.' And probably 'Ambulance' was a more 
fitting word than the true word Avalanche, with which he 
had apparently confused it. 

It is particularly interesting to observe the frequency with 
which the unsung and anonymous but prolific poets of the 
Reconstruction era were moved to lyrical composition in con- 
nection with the rise and fall of the Ku Klux. The Reverend 
A. W. Gummings of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was a carpet- 
bagger preacher who added to his unpopularity by seeking and 
attaining the office of tax assessor and collector; and when the 
Federal troops were sent to Spartanburg by President Grant 
in 1 87 1 the Spartan printed the following impious gibe: 


(Supposed to have been uttered on the evening of the arrival of the United 
States cavalry at this place.) 

Now I lay me down to sleep; 
I pray thee, Grant, my body keep. 
Just let the soldiers round me stand 
And drive away the Ku Klux band. 
That I may have one night of rest 
With consciousness of safety blessed. 
And though my conscience sting no more, 
And keep me wakeful ever more, 
I think I may make out to snore. 
A grateful song I then will raise, 
Thy soldiers and thy grace to praise. 

The subject of one poetic composition which gained consid- 
erable fame was a carpetbagger named Charles Morgan who 
settled in Yazoo County, Mississippi, and combined politics 
with the business of operating a sawmill. As the excesses of the 
Loyal League negroes intensified the antagonism of the native 
white people for the carpetbaggers, Mr. Morgan's popularity 

The Ku Klux Fever 333 

in Yazoo City rapidly approached the irreducible minimum. 
One day as he was leaving town to go to his sawmill across the 
bayou, he was followed by a crowd of nagging boys who jeered 
and taunted him with insulting cries of 'Polecat!' and other 
choice epithets, and followed him onto the ferryboat, where 
Morgan lost his self-possession and drew a pistol on them, 
putting them to flight. 

This undignified episode, along with Morgan's other activities 
in Yazoo County, were immortalized in a song composed by 
some nameless native bard, sung to the tune of *If You Belong 
to Gideon's Band,' which was printed in the Yazoo Banner 
in May, 1868: 

Old Morgan came to the Southern land, 
Old Morgan came to the Southern land, 
Old Morgan came to the Southern land, 
With a little carpet-bag in his hand. 

If you belong to the Ku Klux band 
Here's my heart and here's my hand. 
If you belong to the Ku Klux band 
We are marching for a home. 


Old Morgan thought he would get bigger 
By running a sawmill with a nigger. — Chorus. 


The crop it failed and the sawmill busted 

And the nigger got very badly wusted. — Chorus. 


Old Morgan is a gay old rat 

And the boys they called him a polecat. — Chorus. 

334 Invisible Empire 


But some close at his heels would tag 
And call this hero scalawag. — Chorus. 


Old Morgan went to the bayou bridge 

And with some little Ku Kluxes had a scrimmidge. — Chorus. 


Old Morgan stepped into the flat 

And knocked a little Ku Klux into a cocked hat, and the little 
Ku Klux didn't like that so very well, and another little Ku 
Klux picked up a spike pole to hit old Morgan zip, and old 
Morgan drew a horse pistol out of his pantaloons and cocked 
it on the little coons, and the little Ku Klux that had picked 
up the spike pole dropped it very soon, and old Morgan turned 
and run out of the flat, and the litde Ku Kluxes hollered 'Run, 
polecat!' — Chorus. 

Mr. Morgan, sad to relate, not only had to endure the 
slings and arrows of Yazoo City's concentrated contumely, 
but following the episode on the ferryboat he was arrested and 
formally arraigned on the charges of carrying a concealed 
deadly weapon, exhibiting a deadly weapon, violating a city 
ordinance, disturbing the peace and assault. He was tried and 
found guilty on all counts and fined sixty-one dollars — and 
there are old folks in Yazoo County today who remember and 
can sing this doggerel song commemorating the unfortunate 
Mr. Morgan's difficulties. 

There was an indefinable something about the Ku Klux 
which seemed to inspire verse. When they first began to at- 
tract attention in General Meade's district early in 1868 he 
issued a ukase against them in the form of a General Order 
calling for their suppression and forbidding the newspapers to 
print anything 'furthering the Ku Klux cause.' This aroused 
the Augusta, Georgia, Register and Chronicle to the following 
lyric production: 

The Ku Klux Fever 335 


Let every Ku Klux Klansman heed 

The General Order of General Meade. 

His Highness has received a fright 

And can not sleep by day or night. 

He sees in every Southern man 

A member of the Ku Klux Klan, 

And every time a ram's horn toots 

(Poor fellow) trembles in his boots. 

Oh, dear! Oh, dear! how they annoy him. 

Hence his orders to destroy 'em. 

So let every Klansman heed 

The General Order of General Meade; 

And all observe this General Rule, 

Signed and sealed by Meade 


Not all the Ku Klux poetry was of a comic character, how- 
ever. On March 19, 1868, there appeared in the Memphis 
Avalanche the following item: *The following poem very mysteri- 
ously found its way upon our table yesterday. The writer is 
evidently a poet, a man of genius, and certainly knows some- 
thing about the "Klan." We wish some member of the organiza- 
tion would tell us when, where and how to join the mysterious 
order, as from one to three hundred applications are made to 
us each day.' 


The wolf is in the desert 

And the panther in the brake. 
The fox is on his rambles 

And the owl is wide awake; 
For now 'tis noon of darkness 

And the world is all asleep, 
And some shall wake to glory 

And some shall wake to weep. 
Ku Klux. 

33^ Invisible Empire 

A river black is running 

To a blacker sea afar, 
And by its banks is waving 

A flag without a star: 
There move the ghostly columns 

Of the swift Brigade of Death 
And every villain sleeping 

Is gasping now for breath. 
Ku Klux. 

Thrice hath the lone owl hooted 

And thrice the panther cried, 
And swifter through the darkness 

The Pale Brigade shall ride. 
No trumpet sounds its coming, 

And no drum-beat stirs the air, 
But noiseless in their vengeance 

They wreak it everywhere. 
Ku Klux. 

Fly! fly! ye dastard bandits. 

Who are bleeding all the land. 
The Dread Brigade is marching 

With viewless sword and brand; 
Nor think that from its vengeance 

You in deepest dens may hide. 
For through the darkest caverns 

The Dread Brigade will ride. 
Ku Klux. 

The misty gray is hanging 

On the tresses of the East, 
And morn shall tell the story 

Of the revel and the feast. 
The ghostly troop shall vanish 

Like the light in constant cloud, 
But where they rode shall gather 

The coffin and the shroud. 
Ku Klux. 

The Ku Klux Fever 337 

This poem has been attributed to Albert Pike, the talented 
Arkansan who was at the head of the Ku Klux movement in 
that state and was a poet of no mean ability. Possibly he was 
the author, although, of course, he did not have the bravado 
to claim that honor publicly at that time. 

An amusing item in the Norfolk, Virginia, Journal in Febru- 
ary, 1869, told of the experience of Bishop Beckwith of the 
Episcopal Church when he made an episcopal visitation to a 
remote part of his diocese in Georgia. There were not many 
Episcopalians in that part of the state, especially in the rural 
sections; but few of the whites had ever seen a successor to 
the Apostles, and the negroes did not even know what sort of 
a creature a bishop was. There was no Episcopal church in 
the region; but, undeterred by all the obstacles in his way, 
the conscientious cleric announced that he would preach at a 
certain Baptist church on a given Sunday night. The whole 
neighborhood, members of all sects, were filled with curiosity 
to go and see the queer animal that read prayers out of a book. 
Of all the population, the negroes were more excited than 
any of the others — anything new or novel in the way of religion 
appealed to them. There were some qualms about visiting 
the vicinity of a graveyard after dark, but they determined to 
attend the service en masse and stand together in a group 
outside the front windows, thinking that however dangerous 
might be a graveyard generally, there would be no peril from 
Ku Klux where so large a congregation was assembled. 

The rural Baptist church having no vestry room, the Bishop's 
host placed his vestments behind a tombstone in the church- 
yard during the afternoon, where he could conveniently don 
them upon his arrival there that night. At the appointed hour 
the church was thronged with whites, and the negroes stood 
packed, open-mouthed, before the door. Bishop Beckwith 
arrived on time, entered the graveyard by the back gate and 
there put on his episcopal vestures. There happened to be a 

33B Invisible Empire 

rather strong breeze blowing that night, and just as he came 
around the corner of the church a gust spread out his white 
robes like a billowing sail. Some of the negroes spied him and 
yelled out: 'Ku Klux! Ku Klux!' At this they all looked 
around, and when they beheld the flaunting white garments 
approaching the whole crowd took to their heels shrieking 
'Ku Klux!' *In ten seconds not a single darkie could be seen,* 
continued the newspaper account, *but the sound of their foot- 
steps in the distance fell upon the ear, and for half an hour 
afterward could be heard the terrible words "Ku Klux! Ku 
Klux!" far off in the country, as the affrighted negroes were 
making for their homes.' 

Allowing for the exaggeration sometimes deemed pardonable 
in dressing up a humorous narrative, it does not seem entirely 
unlikely that this episode actually occurred. A somewhat 
similar incident happened in Nashville when a negro woman, 
terrified by the sight of four Sisters of Mercy, fled down the 
street shrieking: 'I seen 'em! I seen the Ku Klux! Promenadin' 
in their grave clothes!' 

' Sometimes the Ku Klux themselves were the butt of the joke. 
During the summer of 1869 a negro in Batesville, Mississippi,' 
had a white man arrested, charged with beating him, and then, 
fearing possible reprisal by the Ku Klux, sent to the com- 
mander of the United States troops at Panola a request for 
protection. A company of cavalry accordingly started for 
Batesville, and that night about midnight when they were about 
two miles from their destination, coming around a turn in the 
road, they suddenly collided headlong with a body of mounted 
Ku Klux 'in all their horrid paraphernalia.' The captain 
of the cavalry company ordered his troopers to halt and draw 
their carbines, and there was a brisk exchange of musketry 
between the two bodies of men, several hundred shots being 
fired. The Ku Klux soon realized, however, that they were 
getting the worst of it and their leader ordered a retreat. One 

The Ku Klux Fever 339 

luckless Klansman, named Jesse Rhoads, however, happened 
to be mounted on a mule, and the mule chose this unpropitious 
moment to exercise the historic prerogative of his genus to balk. 
His rider whipped and spurred him frantically, but the mule 
refused to budge; and as a result of this lack of co-operation 
from his stubborn mount Rhoads was ingloriously captured by 
the bluecoats and, 'horrid paraphernalia' and all, was exultantly 
hustled off to the jail at Vicksburg. 

The pervasiveness of the Ku Klux influence extended even 
into the realm of sport. Baseball was just then beginning to get 
established as the national game, and local baseball clubs were 
springing up in all parts of the country, all of them tagged with 
more or less fancy appellations. In the South at this time it was 
perhaps inescapable that the Ku Klux name should be bor- 
rowed for this purpose, and in Nashville an ambitious group of 
embryo young Pop Ansons sought to terrify their opponents on 
the diamond by calling themselves the 'Young Ku Klux.' That 
the horrific name was not backed up by any corresponding 
talent was indicated by this sad report of their first game, as 
printed in the Press and Times in April, 1868: 'A baseball match 
took place yesterday between the Eclipse and the Young Ku 
Klux clubs. The following were the scores: Eclipse, 22; Young 
Ku Klux, 3.' And then the Radical editor of the paper added 
severely: 'The Ku Klux is a poor name for winning.' Perhaps 
the Young Ku Klux took the same view of the matter. At any 
rate, they seem to have changed their name to 'The Pale Faces,' 
which was a sort of current alias for the Ku Klux. The Pale 
Faces also turned out, however, to be 'a poor name for winning,' 
as the newspaper of May ist carried this piece of news: 'The 
"Trix" and "Pale Faces" baseball clubs played a match game 
yesterday in which the former scored 19 and the latter 3.' 

A more distant connection between the Ku Klux and the 
national game was revealed in an item which appeared in the 
Trenton, Tennessee, Gazette in August, 1868, headed: 'How Ku 

340 Invisible Empire 

Klux Stories are Manufactured.' This story related that 'The 
Tax Collector for the county, Mr. Parker, a few days ago visited 
Rutherford Station for the purpose of collecting the taxes for 
that district and, seeing a young man wearing a pair of red 
pants (the uniform of the members of the local Base Ball Club) 
at once concluding that he was a Ku Klux and that his presence 
was intended as an intimidation, left the place, declaring that he 
could not collect the taxes without the militia.' Mr. Parker's 
flight took him to Nashville, where his story was added to the 
swelling chorus of alleged Ku Klux outrages, while the innocent 
member of the Rutherford baseball club went on his way in his 
red pants, all unconscious of the furore precipitated by his 
gaudy garb. 

An example of what passed for humor in those days is pro- 
vided by a labored item in a Montgomery paper telling of an 
incident in connection with the banishment of several young 
men of Eutaw, Alabama, who were sentenced to a term in the 
military prison at Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas for the 
offense of Ku Kluxing a carpetbagger. There was an uproar of 
protest at the severity of their punishment and they were 
eventually pardoned and returned triumphantly home, full of 
tales about their experiences, at which time this appeared: 

A rich thing is told by one of the returned Tortured-guts 
victims, about an un-rekonstruckted 

Ku Klux Mule 

Which had been so R. E, Belyus as to kick one of the 
Leeg-scented, loil 'woters' ov midnite Kompleckshun at New 
Orleans, for which treezonable krime he was 
And sentenced to hard labor at Dry Tortured-guts, for life! 
However, Long-ears managed to jump overboard on 

the passage and swum defiantly off amid yells of 
*Go it, Johnny; wish I was on your back, I'd go too,' 
from the Eutaw boys! 

The Ku Klux Fever 341 

That's nice 

And now 

Alabama Menagerie No. 2 

is to exhibit at Montgumery on the 13th, and we look for 

Jolly times — presently! 

Free admission to kullered dam(n) sells who kin store a 

carpetbag for the night. Montgumians are warned. 

The Ku Klux were especially strong in Alabama, so much so 
that in some parts of the state they came to be looked upon as an 
established and quasi-legal factor in the administration of jus- 
tice. In Jefferson County a negro man was arrested for stealing 
cotton, and a white attorney who had raised him when he was a 
slave and took an interest in him volunteered to defend him. He 
discussed the matter with his dusky client and was told by him 
that the Ku Klux had called on him some time before and in- 
terrogated him about the matter and, being convinced of his 
guilt, had whipped him. The attorney forthwith went into the 
court and demanded that the negro be released on constitu- 
tional grounds. The Constitution clearly provided, he said, that 
no citizen should twice be placed in jeopardy for the same 
offense. His client had already been tried, convicted and pun- 
ished by the Ku Klux; to try him again was a clear case of 
double jeopardy. Maybe it was the sheer audacity of the 
theory; maybe the court was impressed by its sound logic; any- 
how the bewildered but grateful negro was released. 




LTHOUGH THE Ku Klux Klan was by far the most 
widely known organization of its kind, it was by no means the 
only order in the South of similar purpose. Following the war, 
when the normal administration of the law collapsed and 
chaotic social and economic conditions prevailed, there was an 
instinctive movement among people of the South in the direc- 
tion of banding together for common protection. There were 
scores of more or less local groups of this character, ranging in 
size and importance from the loose, informal neighborhood 
vigilance committees to such well-organized and well-regulated 
societies as the Knights of the White Camelia, for example. 

Some of these existed as separate entities only during the 
months immediately following the war, and served as a nucleus 
around which the Ku Klux Klan was organized in those locali- 
ties when it came into being. On the other hand, some of the 
most extensive and formidable of them were not active until 
after the decline and collapse of the Ku Klux Klan, at which 
time they blossomed out as secret societies based on the principle 
of *white supremacy' and generally upholding the Democratic 
Party. In general, they had the same broad objectives as the 
Ku Klux Klan; but the fundamental difference was that they, 
as a rule, did not indulge in any deeds of violence and did not 
go about in disguise or make any secret of the fact of member- 

Kindred Organizations 343 

ship. They were *secret societies' in the sense that the Masons or 
Odd Fellows are so called, in that they did not divulge their 
ritualistic procedure and confined their meetings to their own 
members; but membership was freely admitted, which was quite 
contrary to the basic principle of the Ku Klux Klan. 

To the world at large, however, all these Southern secret 
societies of post-war times were loosely though inaccurately 
known as Ku Klux; and Doctor W. L. Fleming in his Documen- 
tary History of the Reconstruction groups all these organized pro- 
tective organizations in what he aptly styles 'The Ku Klux 
Movement.' Granting that they were all actuated by the same 
basic motive, however, it should be borne in mind that the Ku 
Klux Klan as such had no official connection with any of these 
other organizations. The Klan was sui generis. It had more 
members and more advertising and more fearsome prestige than 
any of the other organizations, being approached only by the 
Knights of the White Camelia; and although the Klan, by its 
very pre-eminence, had its name used as a tag for all similar 
enterprises, they were all entirely independent of each other. 

A thorough and detailed study of the Southern secret societies 
of Reconstruction days would constitute an interesting and 
valuable contribution to history. That, however, is another 
story; and for present purposes it must be sufficient to mention 
briefly some of the more outstanding activities along lines 
roughly parallel to the path of the Ku Klux Klan. 

By long odds the most extensive and important of these post- 
war secret societies in the South, aside from the Ku Klux, was 
the Knights of the White Camelia. This order centered in 
Louisiana, but it extended into Texas and Arkansas, across 
southern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and also to some ex- 
tent in the other Southern states; and was said to have members 
even in the North and West. 

* We have witnessed the revolting spectacle of excited negroes 
riding through our streets and on the public roads with guns 

344 Invisible Empire 

on their shoulders, revolvers and dirks hanging at their sides, 
matches in their hands, yelling, cursing and threatening to 
shoot down and cut the throats of the whites and to destroy their 
property,' said Colonel Alcibiade de Blanc, later Grand 
Commander of the order in Louisiana and an active factor in 
its promotion. It was to offset such conditions. Colonel de 
Blanc declared, that the White Camelia was organized; and he 
went about the South making speeches on the subject of 'The 
Whites Must and Shall Rule,' which might be taken as the 
slogan of the organization. On the basis of this appeal it swept 
over Louisiana and the immediately adjacent territory. The 
specter of miscegenation was one of the principal concerns of the 
White Camelia, as black-and-tan legislatures were enacting 
laws permitting the intermarriage of the races, and every 
member of the Knights of the White Camelia was sworn never 
to marry any woman but of the white race. 'Nothing was asked 
about negro children,' a Northern commentator caustically re- 
marked. 'If the applicant had not .married the colored woman 
who bore his children, the White Camelia in its spotless purity 
was content.' But the members of the order were not disturbed 
by criticism. Racial solidarity was their fetish. 'We must all be 
united as are the flowers that grow on one stem,' was one of its 
declarations; and this was the idea persistently hammered into 
its members. 

This order had grown to such proportions in Louisiana in 
1872 that it embraced nearly all the Democratic voters in the 
state, and it had attained such power that General Rousseau, 
who commanded the district, advised the Republican leaders 
to abandon the campaign, as the organization had become too 
powerful for his command to subdue. In 1869 a Tennessee 
newspaper carried a news item from Texas stating that the 
Knights of the White Camelia had thirty-eight thousand mem- 
bers in that state; and, although this was probably an exaggera- 
tion, it was in fact immensely popular in that section. 

Kindred Organizations 345 

In New Orleans, where there were eighteen Councils of the 
society, meetings were called by the simple process of inserting 

a single-line advertisement in the Times: 'K.W.C. No. 

Important,' and the members of the designated Council would 
thereupon assemble at the regular meeting place. 

The sign of recognition of the Knights of the White Camelia 
was made by carelessly drawing the index finger of the left hand 
across the left eye, all the other fingers of that hand being closed. 
If the person addressed was a member, he would ask the ques- 
tion: 'Where were you born?' to which the proper answer was 
'On Mount Caucasus.' Then: 'Are you free?' 'I am.' 'Were 
your ancestors free?' 'They were.' 'Are you attached to any 
order?' 'I am.' 'To what order?' 'To the Knights of the White 
Camelia.' 'Where does it grow?' 'On Mount Caucasus.' 

Entrance to a Council was gained by giving four raps on the 
door; and for a general alarm in any town a bell was rung four 

The Knights of the White Camelia appears to have grown out 
of a White Man's Club (also called the Caucasian Club) which 
was organized at Franklin, Louisiana, in May, 1867, by Colonel 
de Blanc. In the same month a local branch was established in 
New Orleans, which was later to be the headquarters of the 
organization; but there was no general convention of the order 
in New Orleans until 1868, at which time the leaders got to- 
gether, adopted a constitution and began to extend its influence. 

The Camelia society developed itself into a highly potent 
force in Reconstruction politics in the Southwest, particularly 
in Louisiana; and in that state it was directly through its in- 
strumentality that the government was finally rescued from the 
plundering carpetbaggers and restored to responsible hands. 

The White League was not organized until 1874, and then 
purely for political purposes, openly and avowedly. The Radi- 
cals called it 'Ku Klux without the disguise and secrecy'; 
but there was actually no connection whatever between the 

34^ Invisible Empire 

White League and the Klan, and Httle similarity in their 
methods. The reason for the League was pretty well explained 
in its platform, which describes how the negroes 'voted like a 
body of soldiers obeying a command from unworthy and dis- 
honest leaders/ and asserted that a 'league of the whites is the 
inevitable result of that formidable, oath-bound and blindly 
obedient league of the blacks.' 

The political campaign in Louisiana for participation in 
which the White League was primarily organized was a wild 
and turbulent one, with frequent clashes between the rival 
forces. This violence culminated in the historic and bloody 
affray at the foot of Canal Street in New Orleans when the 
volunteer militia, largely composed of White Leaguers and com- 
manded by Frederick N. Ogden, head of the League, clashed 
with the Kellogg black militia, made up largely of the metro- 
politan police of New Orleans, mostly negroes. There was a 
brisk battle, lasting for about ten minutes, in the course of 
which fifty-six men were killed — forty-four of the metro- 
politans and twelve of the White League. The White League 
continued as an active factor in Louisiana political affairs, and 
also spread to some of the other Southern States near-by, but 
gradually died out as the purpose for which it was organized was 

A post-war secret society which appears to have been organ- 
ized in Tennessee, but which manifested itself to a lesser extent 
at various points throughout the South, was the Tale Faces.' 
Membership in the order was not a secret, and General Forrest 
freely admitted that he belonged to the Pale Faces while 
stoutly denying that he knew anything about the Ku Klux Klan 
— although in the next breath he declared that they were the 
same thing. This, however, was most likely a part of Forrest's 
general plan to obfuscate the issue as much as possible; for 
all other evidence indicates that they were not the same thing 
by any means. Roughly they had the same purpose in view, 

Kindred Organizations 347 

but the Pale Faces' plan of organization and method of opera- 
tion were entirely different; and during the time of their activity 
they were quick and emphatic in denying that they had any 
connection with the Ku Klux Klan. 

The first mention of this order in the press was in the Nash- 
ville Union and Dispatch of March 8, 1868, when in a news story 
telling of the organization of 'Silver Cycle No. i' it was hailed, 
in the headline, as 'Another Mystic Brotherhood.' The news 
item went on to say: 'Another mysterious order, it would seem, 
has been organized in this city — the Pale Faces. This society, 
though looked upon by many as a myth, is said by others to be 
an auxiliary of the great Ku Klux Klan which is so rapidly 
spreading over the state and inaugurating terror among the 
negroes.' It was then related that an anonymous communica- 
tion had been received the previous day teUing of the organiza- 
tion of Silver Cycle No. i 'at the shanty in Scylla's Den,' and 
that the following officers had been elected: 'Double Double 
Down — Mercury; Double Down — Knowledge; Assistant 
Double Down — Game Cock; Revolving Scribbler — Purity; 
Cash Swinger — Truth; Assistant Cash Swinger — Honesty; 
Walk Around — Charity; Deputy Walk Around — Truth; 
First Lookout — War; Second Lookout — Strength; Holy 
Youth — Virtue.' It was stated that the organization would 
meet every seventh Sunday 'at the shanty'; and in a postscript it 
was mentioned that its emblem was Justice, Purity and Truth. 

Two days later the Union and Dispatch carried a card in which 
it was stated that they had been requested by an officer of the 
Pale Faces to make it plain that it had 'no connection whatever 
with the Ku Klux Klan,' as many supposed and as had been 
intimated in the previous news item. In June a prominent 
citizen of Nashville died, Captain Edward W. Clark, and his 
funeral was the occasion of the first public demonstration of the 
Pale Faces ever witnessed in that city, as they took part in the 
services and marched to the cemetery in the funeral procession. 

34^ Invisible Empire 

In the newspaper account of the funeral it was stated that the 
Tale Face clans' gathered at the grave-side; and the next day 
they had to publish an apology, pointing out that 'the Pale 
Faces have no clans.'' So fearful were they of confusion with the 
notorious Ku Klux that the use of even the common noun 'clan' 
was taboo. 

By December, 1 869, the Pale Faces had grown so strong that 
they launched a paper of their own in Nashville known as 'The 
Pale Face.' The first issue of this paper gave considerable in- 
formation about the order, stating that it had sixty-one camps 
in Tennessee, and that there were twenty thousand members on 
its rolls, 'although it is not yet two years old.' W. J. Andrews of 
Columbia was announced as Most Worthy State President. 
This publication lived a very brief and uneventful life; in fact 
the order itself did not long survive the restoration of popular 
government in the state, which was fully attained shortly there- 

Another minor organization of this kind in Tennessee was the 
'Red Jackets,' which had a chapter in Johnsonville on the 
Tennessee River and at other points in that vicinity. A news- 
paper comment about the order stated that 'The objects of this 
conclave, which seems to be quite numerous in that section, are 
similar to those of the Ku Klux Klan.' The Red Jackets, how- 
ever, survived but briefly and made no visible impress on the 
affairs of the state. 

In Mississippi there were a number of organizations of this 
kind after the war. About the most active of them was a society 
known as the Native Sons of the South, which was centered in 
Monroe County, where it was said to have more than eight 
hundred members. Initiates into this order took the following 

'I do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God and 
this band of faithful brethren, that I will never reveal or make 
known, except when authorized to do so by proper authority. 

Kindred Organizations 349 

any of the secrets, signs, passwords, grips or other obhgations, so 
help me God, and keep me steadfast therein.' 
The following catechism ensued after the oath: 

*Who will protect the rights of all men?' 

'The Native Sons of the South.' 

*Whom do we in this most solemn hour swear vengeance 

'The carpetbagger and all who affiliate with him.' 

'What is to be done with the carpetbaggers and their 

'They are to be driven from the borders of the state.' 

'Who is to accomplish this most noble work?' 

'The Native Sons of the South.' 
Members of the order were enjoined to keep the fact of their 
membership a profound secret, but this injunction was rendered 
somewhat absurd by the fact that they were immediately fur- 
nished with a glazed cap, across the front of which was lettered 
'Native Sons,' which they wore publicly on the occasion of their 
parades. The most ambitious undertaking of the Native Sons 
was a campaign to organize the negroes to vote the Democratic 
ticket, but this proved abortive. The leading figures were soon 
arrested by the United States officers; and, although they were 
later released from custody, the organization shriveled up and 

Another Mississippi organization was known as 'The Society 
of the White Rose,' which preceded the Ku Klux Klan and ap- 
parently was absorbed into the Klan when the latter was intro- 
duced into Mississippi. John B. Taliaferro stated that he joined 
the Society of the White Rose in Brooksville, being under the 
impression that its purpose was to bring thieves to justice. It 
was an oathbound organization, but there was no penalty pre- 
scribed for a violation of the oath. Taliaferro said that about 
six or eight months after he joined he was invited to a meeting 
in the woods, and when he got there he found all those in at- 

350 Invisible Empire 

tendance in disguise. They formed a circle, he said; the captain, 
standing in the center, swore in some new members; they all put 
on their disguises, and then fell to discussing various individuals 
who were reported to need regulatory attention. When they 
demanded of Taliaferro that he take a new oath of membership 
in the Ku Klux Klan, stating that his White Rose oath wasn't 
strong enough for the sterner business of the Klan, he refused, 
so he said, and when they insisted he fled to Jackson. 

J. F. Sessions of FrankHn County, Mississippi, told of an 
organization in that county known as the Knights of the Black 
Gross, which dressed in a white robe and a white cap, but no 
mask. Members of the Black Cross took an oath of fidelity to 
the Constitution of the United States and swore to endeavor to 
secure the success of the Conservative or Democratic Party. 
It was active in the elections of 1868; but after the elections it 
faded out of sight. Apparently there was some overdoing of the 
organization of secret societies at that time, for Mr. Sessions also 
testified that when an organizer came to town and attempted to 
start something else of the same kind the impetuous young men 
of the town rode him out of town on a rail. 

Another organization in Mississippi which showed a spurt of 
activity in 1870, when the Ku Klux Klan was beginning to 
wane, was the order known as the Seventy-Six Association, or 
simply as the Seventy-Six. The organizer and head man was 
said to be Doctor Thomas G. Gathright, who operated the 
Somerville Institute at Somerville in Noxubee County. This 
was purely a political order, in the interest of the Democratic 
Party, and was planned to be active throughout the whole 
country, with General Frank Blair at one time mentioned as its 
leader. So far as can be learned, however, it was never active to 
any great extent except in Mississippi and Louisiana; and did 
not exert its influence for a very long time even in those states. 
It had some prominent members, including such prominent ex- 
Confederates as General Braxton Bragg, General S. B. Buckner, 

Kindred Organizations 351 

General Dabney H. Maury, General Cadmus Wilcox and others 
of similarly high standing. The preamble of the constitution of 
the order, as quoted by Doctor Fleming, set out its objectives as 

*To oppose by all peaceful and lawful means within our power 
the usurpations of the Radical party. 

*To uphold the principles of the United States Constitution 
as established and interpreted by its framers. 

*To vindicate the history of the South from the malignant 
and systematic assaults and aspersions of the Press, Pulpits and 
Politicians of the Radical party. 

'To place before the world the true condition of the South 
during the recent war, and her condition at the present time. 

*To form a nucleus around which the true men of the South 
may rally in contending for these great ends. 

'To promote the material interests of the South. 

*And, further, as an auxilliary to this association, to establish 
and maintain in the City of New Orleans a newspaper which 
shall be devoted to the advancement, advocacy and dissemina- 
tion of these principles.' 

It is not of record that any such newspaper was ever estab- 
lished in New Orleans, and probably the association collapsed 
before this ambitious project could be realized. 

'The Robertson Family' was the odd name of another Missis- 
sippi organization (said by some to be identical with The 
Seventy-Six) which took its name from its password, which con- 
sisted of this dialogue: 

'Do you know Robertson?' 

'What Robertson?' 

'Squire Robertson.' 

'Yes, I know him,' this latter response being accompanied by 
drawing the right hand rapidly across the brow and back over 
the right ear as though brushing back the hair. 

This gesture with the hand was suspiciously similar to the 

352 Invisible Empire 

sign of the Ku Klux; and it was said by some Mississippi writers 
that the Robertson Family was 'an offshoot of the Ku Klux 
Klan and affiliated with it.' This supposition, however, appears 
to be entirely gratuitous and unsupported, as there is no evi- 
dence anywhere that they were in any way connected, except 
that possibly some of the members of one might also have been 
members of the other. 

In Mississippi at the same time there was also 'The White 
Brotherhood,' which never amounted to very much. There 
were branches of this organization at two or three places in 
Alabama, just over the Mississippi line; and in Alabama the 
White Brotherhood and the Ku Klux were considered synony- 
mous — which they probably were not. 

Immediately following the close of the war there was a small 
but active local organization in the northeastern part of Missis- 
sippi known as 'Dow Blair's Regulators.' At that time there 
were a great deal of horse-stealing and other outrages being 
perpetrated on the citizens, in the absence of any official 
restraint, and this band of regulators was formed for the purpose 
of stamping out this disorder, which it pretty effectively did. 

C. L. Casey, deputy United States marshal in Spartanburg, 
South Carolina, testified that as early as 1865 there was an 
organization of regulators in that part of the state who called 
themselves 'Slickers,' although he was unable to explain the 
significance or origin of the name. 'They would just go about 
hanging,' he explained vaguely; and then added, in terrified 
retrospect: 'God! they killed in those days.' But he was em- 
phatic in his declaration that they were not Ku Klux, although 
they were 'disguised with some kind of faces.' 

No other reference to the 'Slickers' is found in any other of the 
records pertaining to Reconstruction conditions in South 
Carolina; although soon after the war in some of the up-country 
counties there were some self-constituted bands of regulators 
who were bluntly styled 'bushwhackers' by the citizens, and 

Kindred Organizations 353 

whose marauding was looked upon as reprehensible by the law- 
abiding people regardless of political inclination. 

A South Carolina organization surrounding whose aims and 
plans there was considerable mystery was the Council of Safety, 
which was organized following the elections in 1870 when it was 
feared that there was imminent danger from the belligerent 
black militia. It was a so-called secret society, but copies of its 
constitution were widely and publicly distributed and even 
printed in the newspapers. It was openly charged by the Radi- 
cals that it was just another name for the Ku Klux; but this 
charge was hotly denied by E. W. Seibels, a prominent Demo- 
cratic leader who was one of the Council's admitted leaders. 
That the Council had in mind something more definite, and 
probably more drastic, than a mere political organization was 
indicated by the clause of its oath where the initiate swore never 
to reveal any of the secrets of the Council 'or the organization of 
which it may become a part,' and the further obligation to obey 
all its rules and mandates, specifically mentioning Articles II 
and III of the constitution. These articles read: 


The objects of this organization are, first, to preserve the 
peace, enforce the laws, and protect and defend the persons and 
property of the good people of this state; and, second, to labor 
for the restoration of constitutional liberty, as taught by our 
forefathers, and to reform abuses in the government, state and 


Its operations shall be two-fold: 

1 . PoUtical, social and moral, under the forms of estabhshed 

2. Physical, according to the recognized principles of self- 

354 Invisible Empire 

This reference to physical self-defensive operations aroused 
some curiosity, and some apprehension on the part of the Radi- 
cals; but the exact meaning of this clause was never publicly de- 
fined, and soon the necessity for definition disappeared as the 
Council of Safety faded from existence. 

Mention of some of the pre-Ku Klux organizations in the 
state of Georgia was included in the official report of General 
Davis Tillson, head of the Freedmen's Bureau in that state, 
dated November i, 1866. 'Bands of men styling themselves 
"Regulators," "Jayhawkers" and "Black Horse Cavalry,"' 
said Gen. Tillson, 'have infested different parts of the state, 
committing the most fiendish and diabolical outrages on the 
freedmen. I am unaware of a single instance where one of these 
villains has been arrested and brought to trial by the civil 

authorities I am led to believe that in some instances the 

civil authorities and well-disposed citizens have been over-awed 
by these organizations. In others, I fear the civil authorities 
have sympathized with them. Whenever they have neglected or 
refused to act, troops have been despatched to arrest the guilty 
parties; but, as the outlaws are generally well mounted, have 
the sympathy of more or less of the inhabitants, are familiar with 
the country, and have numerous opportunities for concealment, 
they generally escape.' 

An organization which flourished in the Florida parishes of 
Louisiana after the disbandment of the Ku Klux, between 1872 
and 1877, was known by its members simply as 'No. 298.' This 
order had branches or 'conclaves' throughout this part of 
Louisiana, notably in the parishes of East and West Feliciana, 
East Baton Rouge and Livingston, and it numbered among its 
membership some of the prominent men of that region, includ- 
ing the commanding officer of the United States troops in that 
district. In Volume I of the Mississippi Valley Historical Review 
is printed the ritual of this order as it was preserved in the 
records of the conclave at Jackson, Louisiana. 'No. 298,' like the 

Kindred Organizations 355 

other post-Ku Klux societies, had for its main purpose the as- 
cendancy of the white natives over the negroes and carpet- 
baggers; but there is no record of its resorting to any deeds of 
violence, nor did its members affect any form of disguise. 

This was just one of a scattering lot of post-Ku Klux organiza- 
tions which after the final dissolution of the Ku Klux Klan 
sprang up in those parts of the South where the Ku Klux ob- 
jectives had not been entirely accomplished. Long after the 
Klan had been disbanded and the last rumor of its activities 
had died away, there were societies and organizations in the 
South, working in the open and without disguise, but willing to 
resort to force if necessary to accomplish the preservation of 
what they considered the rights of the white people. 

Aside from the White League in Louisiana and that vicinity, 
there were in South Carolina the numerous local 'Rifle Clubs,' 
'Sabre Clubs' and 'Artillery Clubs' which had roughly the same 
purpose. The outstanding organization of the kind in South 
CaroUna was the famous 'Red Shirts' commanded by General 
Wade Hampton, which finally swept the carpetbagger govern- 
ment out of South Carolina and by the decisiveness of its victory 
freed the South of the last lingering traces of the blight of 
Reconstructionism. The Red Shirt movement was virtually a 
revolution, accomplishing its objectives by armed force, though 
it resorted to no concealment. 

These latter organizations, however, all came after the Ku 
Klux era. They worked in the open and without disguise, as 
conditions no longer made concealment necessary. In a way 
they were, to use the modern military parlance, 'mopping up' 
where the Ku Klux shock troops had made the initial suc- 
cessfiil assault against carpetbaggery. They consolidated the Ku 
Klux gains and helped to make permanent the improvements 
in political and social conditions effected by the decidedly ir- 
regular and violent methods of the Ku Klux. 





Ku Klux Klan was dissolved it is impossible to say exactly. As a 
matter of fact, it is hardly accurate to say that it was disbanded 
at all; it would be a closer approximation of the facts to say that 
it gradually melted away — and the melting process proceeded 
more rapidly in some sections than in others. 

The popularly accepted story of the Klan's final days is that 
Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Grand Wizard of the Invisible 
Empire, issued a formal disbandment order and that the Klan 
forthwith destroyed its regalia, burned its rituals and ceased to 
exist. Forrest himself, in testifying before thq Congressional 
Committee, made the broad statement that he suppressed the 
Ku Klux; but when pressed for details he was singularly vague 
as to how he accomplished this and just when he did it. It was 
early in 1868, he said at first; then he said that it must have been 
after the fall of 1868. A surviving member of the Klan in 
Memphis stated that his Den received the dissolution order in 
August, 1869, fixing the date with reference to the election of 
that year. 

What is generally referred to as the disbandment order was 
issued by Grand Wizard Forrest late in January, 1869. The 
document is dated, in the Ku Klux code: 'Dismal Era, Fourth 

Decline and Disbandment 357 

Green Day, Last Hour, G. A.R.N.'; which, being interpreted, 
means January, fourth Monday, 12 o'clock, 1869. This order, 
however, is decidedly ambiguous in its wording, possibly in- 
tentionally so; and although it directly instructs that all uni- 
forms and regalia be forthwith destroyed, it also specifically 
states that 'This order is not to be understood to dissolve the 
Order of the Ku Klux Klan, but it is hereby held more firmly 
together and more faithfully bound to each other in any emer- 
gency that may come.' This so-called order is in the form of a 
resolution, and starts off with 'Whereas, the Order of the Ku 
Klux Klan is in some localities being perverted from its original 
honorable and patriotic purposes,' going on to say that public 
sentiment was against masked organizations, and ordering that 
'the masks and costumes of this order be entirely abolished and 
destroyed.' It was also decreed that there be no more 'demon- 
strations' until they were ordered by 'a Grand Titan or higher 

The Ku Klux handbook, written in 1884 by D. L. Wilson and 
J. G. Lester, the latter one of the organizers of the original 
Pulaski society, stated that the disbandment was effected by a 
proclamation from Grand Wizard Forrest, the date of which is 
placed at 'a short while after Brownlow's order declaring 
martial law,' which was February 20, i869.'» Goncerning it they 

'This proclamation recited the legislation directed against 
the Klan, and stated that the order had now, in large measure, 
accomplished the objects of its existence. At a time when the 
civil law afforded inadequate protection to life and property, 
when robbery and lawlessness of every description were un- 
rebuked, when all the better elements of society were in con- 
stant dread for the safety of their property, persons and families, 
the Klan had afforded protection and security to many fire- 
sides, and, in many ways contributed to the public welfa^. 
But greatly to the regret of all good citizens, some members of 

35^ Invisible Empire 

the Klan had violated positive orders; others, under the name 
and disguises of the organization had assumed to do acts of 
violence, for which the Klan was held responsible. The Grand 
Wizard had been invested with the power to determine ques- 
1 tions of paramount importance to the interests of the order. 
Therefore, in the exercise of that power, the Grand Wizard 
declared that the organization heretofore known as the Ku 
Klux Klan was dissolved and disbanded. • 
. \\J' 'Members were directed to burn all regalia and paraphernalia 
of every description, and to desist from any further assemblies or 
acts as Ku Klux. The members of the Klan were counseled in 
the future as heretofore, to assist all good people of the land in 
maintaining and upholding the civil laws, and in putting down 
lawlessness. This proclamation was directed to all Realms, 
Dominions, Provinces and "Dens" in "the Empire." It is 
reasonably certain that there were portions of the Empire never 
reached by it. The Klan was widely scattered and the facilities 
for communication exceedingly poor. The Grand Wizard was a 
citizen of Tennessee. Under the statute just now quoted 
(Tennessee's anti-Ku Klux law, enacted by the Brownlow 
legislature) newspapers were forbidden to publish anything 
emanating from the Klan. So that there was no way in which 
this proclamation could be generally disseminated. 

'Where it was promulgated, obedience to it was prompt and 

'Whether obeyed or not, this proclamation terminated the 
Klan's organized existence as decisively and completely as Gen. 
Lee's last general order on the morning of the loth (sic) of 
April, 1865, disbanded the Army of Northern Virginia. 

'When the office of Grand Wizard was created and its duties 
defined, it was explicitly provided that he should have "the 
power to determine questions of paramount importance, and 
his decision shall be final." To continue the organization or to 
disband it was such a question. He decided in favor of dis- 

Decline and Disbandment 359 

banding and so ordered. Therefore the Ku Klux Klan had no 
organized existence after March, 1869.' 

This book was written nearly twenty years after the event, 
and it is possible that Mr. Lester, despite his opportunity for in- 
side information, may have been the victim of some confusion 
of memory as to this disbandment order and its provisions; also 
there seems a strong probability that the order to which he 
refers, despite the date he ascribes, may have been the same as 
the order issued in January, 1869, in which the destruction of the 
masks and costumes was ordered. It seems hardly reasonable 
that such an order should have been issued in January and then 
followed up with another proclamation a month later, again 
issuing the same instructions. Also, despite the rather sophisti- 
cal reasoning advanced by Mr. Lester, the matter of the dis- 
bandment was hardly as simple and clean-cut a matter as he 
would make it appear. There were Ku Klux activities in Missis- 
sippi and the Carolinas long after the date of Forrest's disband- 
ment order; and in at least one instance in Mississippi a Den 
was organized as late as 1870 by a man who had gone to Mem- 
phis (Forrest's home) for the purpose of getting the oath and 

It is interesting to observe in this connection that the Original 
Prescript provided that the Grand Wizard was elected for a term 
of three years, his term beginning 'the first Monday in May, 
1867'; and that there should be a new election of officers at the 
expiration of the initial term. Forrest's term as Grand Wizard, 
therefore, expired in May, 1870; and, since no steps were ever 
taken to re-elect him or to elect a successor, it seems safe to as- 
sume that the organization had officially ceased to exist at least 
by that time. 

Some students of Reconstruction history have advanced the 
view that Forrest by his so-called disbandment order was 
merely playing a trick on the Radicals, using this means to lead 
them to believe that the Klan was disbanded when it really was 

360 Invisible Empire 

not. This might possibly be so; but it is difficult to see how any 
such strategy could have been expected to be effective when the 
order itself was not publicly announced. Forrest was a master of 
deceit and trickery in his military operations; but no such 
scheme, however clever, could be expected to work unless the 
enemy were permitted to know something about it. A trap 
can't operate unless the bait is accessible. 

There is an interesting piece of folklore in Tennessee to the 
effect that the disbandment of the Ku Klux came about as a 
result of a personal interview and understanding between For- 
rest and President Grant. According to this story, Forrest went 
to Washington to see Grant soon after the national elections of 
1868, and then and there made a deal with the President-elect 
whereby he promised to return to Tennessee and disband the 
Ku Klux immediately in return for Grant's promise to withdraw 
all the Federal troops from the Southern States and end the 
Reconstruction oppression. If Forrest did make any such deal, 
however, he was very badly out-traded, as there was never the 
shghtest indication that Grant had any intention of carrying 
out his alleged part of such a bargain. The last Federal troops 
were not withdrawn from the South until 1876, more than eight 
years after Grant's election; and the worst part of the oppression 
of Reconstruction, including the enactment of the vicious anti- 
Ku Klux Law and the inquisition conducted by the Congres- 
sional Committee, was during the eight years Grant sat in the 
White House. The picture of Grant and Forrest sitting in 
Washington, smoking their cigars and amiably negotiating for 
the peace of the Southern States, makes the background for a 
pretty story; but there probably is not an atom of fact in 

■ In most sections of the South the dissolution of the Ku Klux 
was governed solely by local conditions; and, generally speaking, 
the Klan's end was more in the form of a spotty, slow and 
gradual disintegration than a formal and decisive disbandment. 

Decline and Disbandment 361 

In a great many places the more respectable members of the 
organization began to withdraw as the Klan's acts of violence 
increased under the influence of the wilder, desperate young 
men who infiltrated into its membership or adopted its dis- 
guise. Freed of this restraint, this younger and more irrespon- 
sible element frequently moved on to deeds of even greater 
violence, until sometimes the more mature and responsible 
members stepped in again and restrained them, or tried to re- 
strain them. 

David Schenck, reputed high official of the organization in 
North Carolina, told the investigating committee how the Klan 
disintegrated in that state: 'I heard that the Klan was commit- 
ting some of these outrages, or were connected with them. I 
asked Mr. Summey, the marshall of the town, if he would not 
request Mr. Berrier to come to my office. He came, and I told 
him that these things were unlawful, and wrong morally, upon 
principle and every other way; and I advised him to disband 
these organizations if he could. I told him I thought that they j 
were wrong. He went home, and as he afterwards told me, andk, 
as it has come out since in evidence, he did leave the Klan and? 
several others did. They then reorganized, with Hobbes as 
chief Hobbes came to me during the latter part of January, 
1 87 1, while the Ku Klux bill was under discussion in Washing- 
ton, and told me the men he was connected with were commit- 
ting this violence, and what should he do about it. I told him I 
had only to say what I had always said, that I was opposed to 
all that violence, and advised him to break it up if he could. He 
went home and left it. They then organized a third time, and I 
think Anderson Davis and nine men were left in it. Those are 
the remnants of that society; they are the last dregs of that con- 

Asked the direct question: 'Whatever may have been your 
original idea of this organization and its purpose, you say it has 
been used in North Carolina for the purpose of committing 



362 Invisible Empire 

these outrages?* to which he replied: *Yes, sir. I can not shut my 
eyes to that fact. I think it has been very grossly perverted to 
improper purposes.' 

A good statement of this prostitution of the Ku Klux in some 
sections during those latter days was included in a dispatch from 
a Georgia correspondent printed in the New York World in 
January, 1870: 'When the Ku Klux Klan was first introduced 
into Georgia, it seemed more like a sort of organized practical 
joke upon the negroes than any serious enterprise But be- 
fore long the low-downers took to "Ku Klucking," as they call 
it, and then cruelties began to be practiced, and decent men 
withdrew from the organization altogether. Whenever a set of 
low, disorderly fellows feel inclined to commit a rascality, they 
put on masks and call themselves Ku Klux. A true statement 
of the case is not that the Ku Klux are an organized band of 
licensed criminals, but that men who commit crimes call them- 
selves Ku Klux.' 

One of the foremost factors tending to contribute to the break- 
ing up of the original Ku Klux Klan and the destruction of its 
influence was this appearance throughout the South of groups 
of counterfeit Ku Klux who used the convenient and familiar 
disguise as a cloak for robbery, assault, assassination and other 
crimes. During its later days a good part of the real Klan's 
work consisted in seeking out and punishing these imitators; and, 
as these spurious Ku Klux were suppressed, the genuine mem- 
bers of the order gradually came to realize that they had set in 
motion a piece of machinery whose power they had not foreseen 
and which was rapidly getting beyond their control. 

Misuse of the Ku Klux regalia by impostors was reported as 
early as 1868. In the neighborhood of Nashville there de- 
veloped a gang of outlaws who operated in the Ku Klux dis- 
guise and who came to be known as 'the Black Ku Klux.' Their 
operations were resented and resisted by the genuine Klansmen 
of Middle Tennessee, and a sort of guerrilla warfare was main- 

Decline and Disbandment 363 

tained for several months between the Black Ku Klux and the 
real Ku Klux. 

The spurious Ku Klux were also active in Maury County, 
Tennessee, as early as March, 1868, when three men in the dis- 
guise of the Klan went to the negro quarters on the Potter place 
a few miles west of Columbia and robbed the negroes. While 
they were passing through the premises of Mr. Clayton Aber- 
nathy (a reputed Ku Klux) he saw and stopped them and made 
them unmask, when, as he reported, he found them to be 'three 
notorious, negro-loving Brownlowites.' Two other counterfeit 
Ku Klux who committed an outrage on a negro in Maury 
County at this time were captured by genuine members of the 
Klan and turned over to the authorities at Columbia for punish- 
ment. The June 20 issue of the Columbia Herald told of a negro 
man who had been called to his door and shot, going on to say: 
*The persons were in the disguise of Ku Klux, but it is the belief 
of all that they were counterfeit. They are represented as having 
been drunk and disorderly.' In the same issue of this paper it 
was related that 'some persons in the disguise of Ku Klux' had 
fired at some negroes playing marbles in the road by moonlight. 
'Everybody is convinced that these men were not Ku Klux,' the 
editor said, 'and it is time that the real Ku Klux were exonerat- 
ing themselves of the contumely and odium being cast upon 
them by counterfeits.' 

The editor of the Herald must have had powers of clairvoyance 
as to what the Ku Klux would do in the circumstances, or else 
he got remarkably prompt reaction from his advice, for that 
very same day he issued an 'Extra' carrying a screaming head- 
line of 'Warning to Bogus Ku Klux' in which it was stated: 'This 
morning we find inside our window the following important 
order. Last night there was a large body of men in town, in a 
singular uniform, and it is probable that it was their intention 
to leave the order so that it would appear in to-day's Herald. 
The Herald^ however, was made up last night, and so we 

364 Invisible Empire 

issue an extra for the benefit of our readers. It speaks for 


Headquarters Province No. i 

Frightful Era, Crimson Epoch 

Alarming Hour 

^Fiatjustitia mat coelurrC 

To All Whom it May Concern: 

Paragraph I. — Parties in Ku Klux and various other dis- 
guises have at different times and places made their appearance 
and committed unlawful acts. This shall be stopped. 

Members of former Ku Klux Klans are ordered to destroy 
their disguises, say nothing and remain at home. If they are true 
to their oaths, and friends to the cause they swore to support, 
they will obey this order, as it emanates from the superior in 
rank to their Great Grand Cyclops; if they do not obey it, they 
shall be treated as traitors, enemies and perjurers. 

Parties assuming masks or disguises for amusement, or for un- 
lawful purposes, are ordered from this 20th day of May [June?], 
1868, never to do so within the limits of this county. If they are 
good citizens who may desire doing so, they will at once see the 
propriety of attending to this command; if they are not, and if 
they disobey it, they shall be punished for their misdeeds, as an 
example to others, by hanging. 

Members of this province are ordered never to appear in uni- 
form or any disguise upon any pretext whatever, unless by 
order of the Den Commander; and the Den Commander will 
not order out any member or members without special orders 
from these headquarters. Any violation of this shall be punished 
by the highest penalty known in our constitution. 

The persons who assumed disguises to perpetrate outrages, 
thereby bringing disgrace and discredit upon an organization 
formed for the benefit of our people, are known. This order is 
especially intended for them, et id omne genus. 

Decline and Disbandment 365 

There are true and tried members of this organization in each 
civil district of this county. Hundreds of well-armed and 
determined men can in two hours be rallied to any point in the 
county. They are well organized. They are not banded to- 
gether to whip and abuse negroes, Rebels or Radicals, to molest 
or annoy the soldiers of the Union, nor to resist in any way the 
laws of the land. They are organized to preserve law and order, 
and their purpose shall not be defeated by outside parties, be 
they friends or foes. 

Paragraph II — Members and officers of other Provinces 
have no right, and shall not — without written permission from 
the chief officer of the Dominion, or by request of the com- 
mander of this Province — enter into the same. No infringement 
of this shall he allowed under any circumstances. 

Paragraph III — A detail is ordered out to-night to show that 
the above can be carried out, and to assure the citizens of this 
community that their lives, persons and property shall be pro- 
tected by those who have their interest and the interest of our 
country at heart. 

By order of the G.G., Province No. i. 

Grand Scribe. 

The *G.G., Province No. i' was the Grand Giant of Maury 
County, and it will be observed that his edict is addressed to 
three different classes of people: former members of the Ku 
Klux who, for some reason, had severed their connection with 
the order; persons innocently appearing in disguises for amuse- 
ment; and those assuming the disguise to perpetrate outrages. 
The demonstration ordered — a parade through the streets of 
Columbia — was held that night; and apparently the warning 
was of some effect, for it seems that it was never necessary for the 
Klan to carry out its threat of punishing miscreants by hanging. 

A somewhat similar admonitory proclamation was issued in 
the fall of 1868 by the Grand Dragon of the Realm of Tennessee, 


366 Invisible Empire 

presumably General George W. Gordon, in which he expressed 
great indignation because 'outrages have been perpetrated by 
irresponsible parties in the name of the Klan.' This order in 
full was as follows: 

Headquarters Realm No. i 
Dreadful Era, Black Epoch, 
Dreadful Hour 
General Order No. i 

Whereas, Information of an authentic character has reached 
these headquarters that the blacks in the counties of Marshall, 
Maury, Giles and Lawrence are organized into military com- 
panies, with the avowed purpose to make war upon and exter- 
minate the Ku Klux Klan, said blacks are hereby solemnly 
warned and ordered to desist from further action in such organi- 
zations, if they exist. 

The G.D. regrets the necessity of such an order. But this 
Klan shall not be outraged and interfered with by lawless 
negroes and meaner white men, who do not and never have 
understood our purposes. 

In the first place, this Klan is not an institution of violence, 
lawlessness and cruelty; it is not lawless; it is not aggressive; it is 
not military; it is not revolutionary. 

It is, essentially, originally and inherently a protective organi- 
zation. It proposes to execute law instead of resisting it; and to 
protect all good men, whether white or black, from the outrages 
and atrocities of bad men of both colors, who have been for the 
past three years a terror to society, and an injury to us all. 

The blacks seem to be impressed with the belief that the Klan 
is especially their enemy. We are not the enemy of the blacks, 
as long as they behave themselves, make no threats upon us, 
and do not attack or interfere with us. 

But if they make war upon us they must abide the awful retri- 
bution that will follow. 

The Klan, while in its peaceful movements and disturbing no 

Decline and Disbandment 367 

one, has been fired into three times. This will not be endured 
any longer; and if it occurs again, and the pardes be discovered, 
a remorseless vengeance will be wreaked upon them. 

We reiterate that we are for peace and law and order. 
No man, white or black, shall be molested for his political senti- 
ments. This Klan is not a political party; it is not a military 
party; it is a protective organization, and will never use violence 
except in resisting violence. 

Outrages have been perpetrated by irresponsible parties in the 
name of this Klan. Should such parties be apprehended, they 
will be dealt with in a manner to insure us future exemption 
from such imposition. These imposters have, in some instances, 
whipped negroes. This is wrong! wrong! It is denounced by 
this Klan, as it must be by all good and humane men. 

The Klan now, as in the past, is prohibited from doing such 
things. We are striving to protect all good, peaceful, well- 
disposed and law-abiding men, whether white or black. 

The G.D. deems this order due to the public, due to the Klan, 
and due to those who are misguided and misinformed. We there- 
fore request that all newspapers who are friendly to law, and 
peace, and the public welfare, will publish the same. 

By order of the G. D., Realm No. i. 

By the Grand Scribe. 

In northern Alabama there was a flurry of trouble with imita- 
tion Ku Klux after the Klan had been formally disbanded in 
1869 by public pronouncement in the Athens papers. The Ku 
Klux disguise offered so convenient and effective a medium for 
cloaking criminal deeds that the outlaw element of that part of 
the state boldly began to operate in Ku Klux raiment. Illicit 
distillers and horse-thieves and other law-breakers organized 
gangs which wore the standard disguise of the Klan; but there 
was no co-operation between the different gangs; in fact they 
not infrequently made raids on each other. It was a highly com- 

368 Invisible Empire 

plex situation — the spurious Ku Klux were fighting among 
themselves, during intervals between their raids on the law- 
abiding citizens; and meanwhile the respectable members of 
the original Klan were trying to formulate some plan for bring- 
ing these unauthorized depredations to an end, something which 
the regular law-enforcing officials and the soldiers seemed un- 
able to do. 

The situation grew so intolerable that there was eventually 
held in Athens a mass-meeting of the citizens of that section in 
which the outlawry of the masked bands was roundly denounced 
and a determination was expressed to 'put down lawlessness.' 
This meeting was participated in by a number of prominent 
citizens of Athens who were known to have been active in the 
original Ku Klux, and their participation in the meeting was 
accepted as evidence of the true Klansmen's indignation at 
crimes committed in their name. 

Such meetings as this were not uncommon in the South at 
this time. When Major Merrill took a detachment of United 
States troops to Yorkville, South Carolina, in February, 1871, 
following the disturbance there, he called a conference with the 
leading men of the town and expressed his regret concerning the 
activities of 'bands of disguised men' in that community, asking 
for their co-operation in repressing these disturbances. As a 
result of this conference, there was a meeting of the citizens at 
which it was decided to publish in the Yorkville Enquirer a, 'card' 
setting forth their opposition to unlawful activities. Accordingly 
the following statement, to which were appended some six 
hundred signatures, was published: 

'The undersigned citizens of York County, earnestly desiring 
the preservation of the public peace and for the purpose of 
guaranteeing to all citizens the protection of life and liberty, 
respectfully urge it as a duty for every citizen to discourage all 
acts of violence. We do not desire to dictate to others, but are 
convinced that a repetition of violence must disorganize society 

Decline and Disbandment 369 

and result in a general state of insubordination, the conse- 
quences of which may be deplored when too late to be remedied. 
As members of the community whose common interest is im- 
periled, we pledge our individual efforts and influence to pre- 
vent further acts of violence, and will aid and support the civil 
authorities in bringing offenders to justice. We respectfully 
solicit a hearty co-operation of our fellow-citizens throughout the 
county in our efforts to preserve the peace and to prevent further 
acts of violence and domestic disorder.' 

The Enquirer carried a report of the conference with Major 
Merrill, and in an editorial deploring the disturbances which 
had brought the troops there referred to the Ku Klux Law 
which had recently been enacted by Congress. The editorial 
concluded: 'The Ku Klux Act comprehends all persons found 
in disguise, or in unlawful assemblies on the highways, or on 
the premises of another. This act will be enforced, and rigidly 
enforced; and unless our people at once determine that there 
must be no further acts of violence in the county, we will soon 
have occasion to observe the practical operations of the law in 
its utmost severity and with all its unpleasant consequences.' 

Evidently this appeal was in vain, however, for on March 9 
there appeared in the Enquirer what the editor designated as a 
'Ku Klux Manifesto,' which he stated had been received by him 
through the mail. This document was headed 'Extract of Min- 
utes,' and said: 

Article i . Whereas there are malicious and evil-disposed per- 
sons who endeavor to perpetrate their malice, serve notices, and 
make threats under the cover of our august name, now we warn 
all such bogus organizations that we will not allow of any inter- 
ference. Stop it! 

Article 2. There shall be no interference with any honest, 
decent, well-behaved person, whether white or black; and we 
cordially invite all such to continue at their appropriate labor, 

370 Invisible Empire 

and they shall be protected therein by the whole power of this 
organization. But we do intend that the intelligent, honest 
white people (the tax-payers) of this county shall rule it! We can 
no longer put up with negro rule, black bayonets, and a miser- 
ably degraded and thievish set of law-makers, (God save the 
mark!) the scum of the earth, the scrapings of creation. We are 
pledged to stop it; we are determined to end it, even if we are 
'forced by force to use force.' 

Article 3. Our attention having been called to the letter of 
one Rose, county treasurer of York, we brand it as a lie! Our 
lieutenant was ordered to arrest him, that he might be tried on 
alleged charges of incendiarism (and if convicted he will be 
executed) . But there were no shots fired at him and no money 
stolen; that is not in our line; the legislature of the state of South 
Carolina have a monopoly in that line. 

By command of our chief 
Official K.K.K., A.A.G. 

The activities of the false Ku Klux gave the true Klan much 
trouble in South Carolina, as in other parts of the South, and a 
good part of their time was spent in looking after offenses of 
this kind. In the spring of 1870 two unscrupulous white men in 
Union County sold a set of tools to a negro blacksmith, and then 
went to his shop one night, along with two of their friends, all 
dressed in Ku Klux disguise, and took the tools away from the 
negro. The genuine Ku Klux heard about this and they 
promptly ascertained the identity of the guilty white men, went 
to them and made them give the tools back to the negro 

Two desperadoes named James R. Mullens and F. R. Cudd, 
living in the Pacolet River district of the state, were reported to 
be operating at the head of a band of counterfeit Ku Klux, 
whipping negroes and levying blackmail. This brought forth a 
public proclamation from the Cyclops of the local Den stating 

Decline and Disbandment 371 

that there were spurious Ku Klux at work in that territory and 
that if they did not desist they would be violently dealt with. 
The depredations continued, whereupon the official Ku Klux 
visited the homes of Mullens and Cudd one night, called them 
out and said to them: *You have been disguising yourselves and 
going over the county whipping negroes and alarming the 
people, and we intend to stop it. Bring your disguises here.' 
They took the disguises and burned them, and then took them 
out and administered a severe beating of 150 lashes to each of 

'They claim a monopoly of that kind of rough justice, 
apparently,' commented one of the investigating Senators dryly 
when told of this episode; and this was indeed the fact. The Ku 
Klux of Union County, for example, stopped at nothing in 
carrying out their own decrees; but they were extremely jealous 
of their self-constituted authority, and when spurious Ku Klux 
began to make their appearance in that section the genuine 
Klan posted the following stern notice on the courthouse door: 

Headquarters K. K. K. 
Department of S. G. 

General Order No. 49 from the G. G. C., SS — 

We delight not in speech, but there is language which, when 
meant in earnest, becomes desperate. We raise the voice of 
warning, 'Beware! Beware!' Persons there are (and not un- 
known to us) who, to gratify some private grudge or selfish end, 
like Wheeler's men, so-called, are executing their low, paltry 
and pitiful designs at the expense not only of the noble creed we 
profess and act, but also to the great trouble and annoyance of 
their neighbors in various communities. We stay our hand for 
once; but if such conduct as frightening away laborers, robbery 
and connivance at the secrets of our organization is repeated, 
then the mockers must suffer and the traitors meet their merited 
doom. We dare not promise what we do not perform. We want 

372 Invisible Empire 

no substitutes or conscripts in our ranks. We can be as generous 
as we are terrible; but stand back. We've said it; there shall be 
no interference. 

By order of the grand chief, 

A. O., Grand Secretary. 

One of the strangest manifestations of the counterfeit Ku 
Klux was the surprising prevalence of such practices by the 
negroes. In April, 1871, a negro man named Tom Durham 
was killed in Mississippi while disguised as a Ku Klux; and it 
was no uncommon thing in that state for the negroes to assume 
the Klan's regalia for the purpose of Ku Kluxing each other for 
personal reasons. The first arrest made under Mississippi's Ku 
Klux law was that of a carpetbagger white man and a band of 
negroes who Ku Kluxed one of their own race. 

In January, 1871, a negro named Bill Garrison, who had 
been pardoned from the South Carolina state penitentiary, 
returned to his home in York County and organized a gang of 
negroes who disguised themselves like Ku Klux and, armed with 
shotguns, raided and plundered a store owned by a white man 
named Douglas, near Yorkville. Garrison and three of the men 
escaped, but four of them were captured and, after one had con- 
fessed, three were sentenced to prison for the counterfeit Ku 
Klux raid. 

There were negro Ku Klux also reported in Alabama and 
Georgia; and in Haywood County, Tennessee, a Democratic 
negro named William Johnson was Ku Kluxed by some Radical 
negroes in an effort to make him vote the Radical ticket. Ten- 
nessee also had Radical Ku Klux of white skins, and it was 
reported from Paris in 1 868 that James Guthrie, the commis- 
sioner of registration there, and a leading Radical politician, 
was discovered to have a Ku Klux disguise hidden in his office 
which he frequently donned as a cover for some of his nocturnal 

Decline and Disbandment 373 

mischief. Guthrie was also accused of sending Ku Klux warning 
notices to himself, permitting him thereby to pose as a martyr. 

In April, 1868, one of the Tennessee papers boldly stated 
that 'Brownlow sent one of his Ku Klux in the shape of a negro 
preacher to burn a meeting house of the Loyal Leagues. Brown- 
low intended to lay the blame on the Ku Klux, but unfortu- 
nately for him his pet was caught by some negroes who now 
have him in charge.' 

It was about this time that the Radical Press and Times in 
Nashville carried a news item telling of the burning of a negro 
school near Carthage, definitely charging it to the Ku Klux, 
who, they said, 'notified the teachers in a bloody handwriting,' 
with a coffin at the head of the letter, 'that they should suffer 
death unless they went north where they belonged.' Investiga- {S^ 
tion revealed, however, so another Nashville paper reported, 
that the schoolhouse was burned by members of the Loyal 
League as a result of a quarrel with another faction of negroes 
in the community. A Carthage committee investigated the 
matter and reported that 'It is a mixed fight of negroes and 
their white assistants.' But it was reported in the Northern 
press as another horrible Ku Klux outrage. 

It is a matter of speculation to what extent the demise of the 
Klan was hastened by the restrictive legislation aimed at it. 
Practically all the states embraced in the Invisible Empire 
passed Ku Klux laws of varying severity, and in 1871 the 
United States Congress enacted similar legislation modeled 
after the North Carolina law. Seldom has a more despotic ^ 

piece of legislation disgraced the statute books of the United 
States. By this act the Constitutional guarantees of the states ^ 

were ruthlessly set aside; the Federal courts were given jurisdic- 
tion over the charges of assault, robbery and murder, with 
means provided through which the juries could be (and were) 
effectively packed; and the President was authorized to declare 
martial law and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus when- 

374 Invisible Empire 

ever he chose. This infamous Torce Bill' was roundly de- 
nounced in Congress and elsewhere, North and South, by 
Democrats and also by Republicans. Senators Schurz and 
Trumbull, partisans though they were, spoke strongly against it 
while it was under consideration in the Senate; and James A. 
Garfield assailed it in the House. Joining in the chorus of 
criticism was General W. T. Sherman, then commander of 
the United States Army, who at a public entertainment in 
New Orleans said: T probably have as good means of informa- 
tion as most people in regard to what is called the Ku Klux. . . . 
If Ku Klux bills were kept out of Congress and the Army kept 
at their legitimate duties, there are enough good men in the 
South to put down all Ku Klux or other marauders.' 

Hundreds of alleged Ku Klux were arrested under the terms 
of this Federal law, most of whom were never brought to trial, 
although a handful were finally convicted and sent to prison 
for short terms. The rigorous enforcement of this law, along 
with the terror created by the wholesale arrests, may have 
served to dampen the ardor of the Ku Klux in some localities, 
especially in the Carolinas; but, in general, the Klan's disinte- 
gration closely paralleled the disappearance of the conditions 
which brought it into being. The Ku Klux Klan could hardly 
be accused of fear or timidity. They had operated under the 
noses of an army of occupation for three years or more, in suc- 
cessful disregard of all efforts to confound and frustrate them. 
The mere enactment of a proscriptive law would not in itself 
have served suddenly to strike terror into the hearts of an 
organization of such hardihood and cause them to curl up and 
quit. As conditions be^an to right themselves, however, and 
as irresponsible members and non-members of the Klan began 
to use the Ku Klux disguise improperly, the leaders in the 
organization, as well as those originally in sympathy with its 
purposes, began to express doubts as to the advisabihty of 
continuing it. 

Decline and Disbandment 375 

The feeling of the conservative and responsible people of the 
South at this time was reflected in an open letter addressed 
'To the Ku Klux Organization' which ex-Governor Neill S. 
Brown published in the Nashville Banner early in 1869, urging 
them to desist and disband. 'I do not know the purpose of 
your organization,' wrote Governor Brown, 'nor am I aware 
of your masters. I never saw one of your body to know him. 
I have heard a thousand and one stories of your outrages, very 
many of which I believe to have been exaggerated.' But, he 
went on, whatever may have been their motives at the begin- 
ning, admitting the insecurity of life and property, those times 
had passed away and, he concluded: 'We must have peace, 
and law and order.' 

Even such a stalwart Southerner as B. H. Hill of Georgia, in 
an interview given to a traveling correspondent of the Cincin- 
nati Commercial in November, 1871, said: 'The Ku Klux busi- 
ness ... is the greatest blunder our people ever committed.' 
He expressed the belief that men originally went into the Klan 
believing that was the only way to protect themselves and 
their families against criminals; but, he said, bad men had 
taken advantage of the situation and had used the Ku Klux 
cloak for private vengeance, robbery and plunder, negroes as 
well as white men engaging in such outrages. Going a step 
further he said: 'I believe that some of these outrages were 
actually perpetrated by the political friends of the parties slain, 
for the purpose of manufacturing a feeling at the North against 
the South and producing a reconstruction of the state.' 

This was a serious charge of heinous and almost unbelievable 
depravity, but there were a good many people who believed it. 
Also, there was a widespread belief, in the North as well as in 
the South, that the reports of Ku Klux outrages were very 
greatly exaggerated in the North, for political purposes. Follow- 
ing the election of Grant in November, 1868, there was a 
sudden and noticeable falling off in the reports of Ku Klux 

37^ Invisible Empire 

activities. The Radicals ascribed this to the righteous fear that 
was thrown into the Rebels' hearts by the victory of the Re- 
publicans; but the Conservative press boldly charged that the 
pre-election reports of terror and maltreatment had been 
largely manufactured for political purposes. The Louisville 
Courier Journal remarked that 'The Radicals have a large 
supply of "Ku Klux" outrages left over after the election,' 
going on to say that 'the St. Louis Democrat accounts for having 
exhausted its quota of outrages by noticing the report of the 
Ku Klux having closed the assassination department of their 
concern and being about to hold on a while until they can 
learn the wishes of the High Morose Cyclops.' 

But gradually the reports of Ku Klux outrages grew less and 
less frequent until mention of them finally disappeared from 
the pages of the daily papers, this for the simple reason that 
the Klan itself had ceased to exist and with it its works. For 
the date of its death, as for its birth, it is impossible to ascribe a 
specific day and month and year. It was; and then it was not — 
no man could say when the one condition ended and the other 

It was organized for a definite purpose — the protection of 
the Southern white people during the years when they had no 
other protection, and the prevention of the political over- 
mastery of the white citizens by the blacks. In achieving its 
purposes it adopted sometimes heroic, illegal methods; but 
there was no question in their minds as to the fact that the end 
justified jthe_ means. Realizing the inherent dangers of such a 
powerful engine of regulation, they ceased its use as soon as it 
had served their purpose, their original objectives fairly well 

So lived and so died the Ku Klux Klan. It made its name a 
symbol of terror and desperation. There are today many thou- 
sands of Americans who think of it as an indefensible gang of 
outlaws and murderers. But ask any person who lived in the 

Decline and Disbandment 377 

South during that wild nightmare called the Reconstruction 
and who saw the Klansmen as they went about their self- / 

appointed task, ask such a one and from the light in his eyes 
it will be easy to see that the Klan in his memory is clad in 
shining armor, sans peur et sans reproche. 


I. Prescript of the Ku Klux Klan 381 

II. Revised and Amended Prescript of the Order of the 

* * ♦ 393 

III. Interview with General N. B. Forrest, printed in the 

Cincinnati Commercial , August 28, 1868, with his Reply 410 

IV. Personnel of The Joint Select Committee to Inquire 

INTO THE Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrec- 
tionary States 417 

V. References 

Damnant quod non intelligunt. 



What may this mean, 
That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel, 
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon, 
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature, 
So horridly to shake our disposition, 
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls? 

An' now auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin', 
A certain Ghoul is rantin', drinkin'. 
Some luckless night will send him linkin'. 

To your black pit; 
But, faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin'. 

An' cheat you yet. 


We, the * * , reverently acknowledge the Majesty and Su- 
premacy of the Divine Being, and recognize the Goodness and 
Providence of the Same. 

We recognize our relations to the United States Government, and 
acknowledge the supremacy of its laws. 

Article I. This organization shall be styled and denominated 
the* * 


Art. II. The officers of this * shall consist of a Grand Wizard of 
the Empire and his ten Genii; a Grand Dragon of the Realm and 
his eight Hydras; a Grand Titan of the Dominion and his six Furies; 
a Grand Giant of the Province and his four Goblins; a Grand 
Cyclops of the Den and his two Night Hawks; a Grand Magi, a 
Grand Monk, a Grand Exchequer, a Grand Turk, a Grand Scribe, 
A Grand Sentinel, and a Grand Ensign. 

Sec. 2. The body politic of this * shall be designated and known 
as *Ghouls,' 

Art III. This * shall be divided into five departments, all com- 
bined, constituting the Grand * of the Empire. The second depart- 
ment to be called the Grand * of the Realm. The third, the Grand 
* of the Dominion. The fourth, the Grand * of the Province. The 
fifth, the * of the Den. 


Art. IV. Sec. i . It shall be the duty of the Grand Wizard, who 
is the Supreme Officer of the Empire, to communicate with and 
receive reports from the Grand Dragons of Realms, as to the condi- 
tion, strength, efficiency and progress of the *s within their respec- 
tive Realm. And he shall communicate from time to time, to all 

384 Invisible Empire 

subordinate *s, through the Grand Dragons, the condition, strength, 
efficiency, and progress of the *s throughout his vast Empire; and 
such other information as he may deem expedient to impart. And 
it shall further be his duty to keep by his G Scribe a list of the names 
(without any caption or explanation whatever) of the Grand 
Dragons of the dififerent Realms of his Empire, and shall number 
such Realms with the Arabic numerals, i, 2, 3, &c., adjinem. And 
he shall instruct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropriation and 
disbursement which he shall make of the revenue of the * that 
comes to his hands. He shall have the sole power to issue copies of 
this Prescript, through his Subalterns and Deputies, for the organ- 
ization and establishment of subordinate *s. And he shall have the 
further power to appoint his Genii; also, a Grand Scribe and a 
Grand Exchequer for his Department, and to appoint and ordain 
Special Deputy Grand Wizards to assist him in the more rapid and 
effectual dissemination and establishment of the * throughout his 
Empire. He is further empowered to appoint and instruct Deputies, 
to organize and control Realms, Dominions, Provinces, and Dens, 
until the same shall elect a Grand Dragon, a Grand Titan, a Grand 
Giant, and a Grand Cyclops, in the manner hereinafter provided. 
And when a question of paramount importance to the interest or 
prosperity of the * arises, not provided for in this Prescript, he 
shall have power to determine such question, and his decision shall 
be final, until the same shall be provided for by amendment as 
hereinafter provided. 


Sec. 2. It shall be the duty of the Grand Dragon who is the 
Chief Officer of the Realm, to report to the Grand Wizard when 
required by that officer, the condition, strength, efficiency, and 
progress of the * within his Realm, and to transmit through the 
Grand Titan to the subordinate *s of his Realm, all information or 
intelligence conveyed to him by the Grand Wizard for that purpose, 
and all such other information or instruction as he may think will 
promote the interests of the *. He shall keep by his G. Scribe a 
list of the names (without any caption) of the Grand Titans of the 
different Dominions of his Realm, and shall report the same to the 
Grand Wizard when required; and shall number the Dominions 
of his Realm with the Arabic numerals, i, 2, 3, &c., adjinem. He 
shall instruct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropriation and 
disbursement of the revenue of the * that comes to his hands. He 
shall have the power to appoint his Hydras; also, a Grand Scribe 
and a Grand Exchequer for his Department, and to appoint and 

Appendix I 385 

ordain Special Deputy Grand Dragons to assist him in the more 
rapid and effectual dissemination and establishment of the * through- 
out his Realm. He is further empowered to appoint and instruct 
Deputies to organize and control Dominions, Provinces and Dens, 
until the same shall elect a Grand Titan, a Grand Giant, and Grand 
Cyclops, in the manner hereinafter provided. 


Sec. 3. It shall be the duty of the Grand Titan who is the Chief 
Officer of the Dominion, to report to the Grand Dragon when re- 
quired by that officer, the condition, strength, efficiency, and 
progress of the * within his Dominion, and to transmit, through the 
Grand Giants to the subordinate *s of his Dominion, all information 
or intelligence conveyed to him by the Grand Dragon for that 
purpose, and all such other information or instruction as he may 
think will enhance the interests of the *. He shall keep, by his G. 
Scribe, a list of the names (without caption) of the Grand Giants 
of the different Provinces of his Dominion, and shall report the 
same to the Grand Dragon when required; and he shall number* the 
Provinces of his Dominion with the Arabic numerals, i, 2, 3, &c., 
adjinem. And he shall instruct and direct his Grand Exchequer as to 
the appropriation and disbursement of the revenue of the * that 
comes to his hands. He shall have power to appoint his Furies; 
also to appoint a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his 
department, and appoint and ordain Special Deputy Grand Titans 
to assist him in the more rapid and effectual dissemination and 
establishment of the * throughout his Dominion. He shall have 
further power to appoint and instruct Deputies to organize and 
control Provinces and Dens, until the same shall elect a Grand Giant 
and a Grand Cyclops, in the manner hereinafter provided. 


Sec. 4. It shall be the duty of the Grand Giant, who is the Chief 
Officer of the Province, to supervise and administer general and 
special instruction in the formation and establishment of *s within 
his Province, and to report to the Grand Titan, when required by 
that officer, the condition, strength, progress and efficiency of the 
* throughout his Province, and to transmit, through the Grand 
Cyclops, to the subordinate *s of his Province, all information or 
intelligence conveyed to him by the Grand Titan for that purpose, 
and such other information and instruction as he may think will 
advance the interests of the *. He shall keep by his G Scribe a list 
of the names (without caption) of the Grand Cyclops of the various 

386 Invisible Empire 

Dens of his Province, and shall report the same to the Grand Titan 
when required; and shall number the Dens of his Province with the 
Arabic numerals, i, 2, 3, &c., ad Jinem. And shall determine and 
limit the number of Dens to be organized in his Province. And he 
shall instruct and direct his Grand Exchequer as to what appropria- 
tion and disbursement he shall make of the revenue of the * that 
comes to his hands. He shall have power to appoint his Goblins; 
also, a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his department, 
and to appoint and ordain Special Deputy Grand Giants to assist 
him in the more rapid and effectual dissemination and establishment 
of the * throughout his Province. He shall have the further power 
to appoint and instruct Deputies to organize and control Dens, 
until the same shall elect a Grand Cyclops in the manner hereinafter 
provided. And in all cases, he shall preside at and conduct the 
Grand Council of Yahoos. 


Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the Grand Cyclops to take charge 
of the * of his Den after his election, under the direction and with 
the assistance (when practicable) of the Grand Giant, and in ac- 
cordance with, and in conformity to the provisions of this Prescript, 
a copy of which shall in all cases be obtained before the formation 
of a * begins. It shall further be his duty to appoint all regular 
meetings of his * and to preside at the same — to appoint irregular 
meetings when he deems it expedient, to preserve order in his Den, 
and to impose fines for irregularities or disobedience of orders, and 
to receive and initiate candidates for admission into the * after the 
same shall have been pronounced competent and worthy to become 
members by the Investigating Committee. He shall make a quarterly 
report to the Grand Giant, of the condition, strength and efficiency 
of the * of his Den, and shall convey to the Ghouls of his Den, all 
information or intelligence conveyed to him by the Grand Giant 
for that purpose, and all such other information or instruction as 
he may think will conduce to the interests and welfare of the *. 
He shall preside at and conduct the Grand Council of Centaurs. 
He shall have power to appoint his Night Hawks, his Grand Scribe, 
his Grand Turk, his Grand Sentinel, and his Grand Ensign. And 
he shall instruct and direct the Grand Exchequer of his Den, as to 
what appropriation and disbursement he shall make of the revenue 
of the * that comes to his hands. And for any small offense he 
may punish any member by fine, and may reprimand him for 
the same: And he may admonish and reprimand the * of his 
Den for any imprudence, irregularity or transgression, when he 

Appendix I 387 

is convinced or advised that the interests, welfare and safety of 
the * demand it. 


Sec. 6. It shall be the duty of the Grand Magi, who is the Second 
Officer, in authority, of the Den, to assist the Grand Cyclops and to 
obey all the proper orders of that officer. To preside at all meetings 
in the Den in the absence of the Grand Cyclops; and to exercise 
during his absence all the powers and authority conferred upon 
that officer. 


Sec. 7. It shall be the duty of the Grand Monk, who is the third 
officer, in authority, of the Den, to assist and obey all the proper 
orders of the Grand Cyclops and the Grand Magi. And in the 
absence of both of these officers, he shall preside at and conduct the 
meetings in the Den, and shall exercise all the powers and authority 
conferred upon the Grand Cyclops. 


Sec. 8. It shall be the duty of the Grand Exchequers of the 
different Departments of the * to keep a correct account of all the 
revenue of the * that shall come to their hands, and shall make no 
appropriation or disbursement of the same except under the orders 
and direction of the chief officer of their respective departments. 
And it shall further be the duty of the Grand Exchequer of Dens to 
collect the initiation fees, and all fines imposed by the Grand 


Sec. 9. It shall be the duty of the Grand Turk, who is the Execu- 
tive Officer of the Grand Cyclops, to notify the ghouls of the Den 
of all informal or irregular meetings appointed by the Grand 
Cyclops, and to obey and execute all the lawful orders of that officer 
in the control and government of his Den. It shall further be his 
duty to receive and question at the Out-Posts, all candidates for 
admission into the *, and shall there administer the preliminary 
obligation required, and then to conduct such candidate or candi- 
dates to the Grand Cyclops at his Den, and to assist him in the initia- 
tion of the same. And it shall further be his duty to act as the 
Executive officer of the Grand Council of Centaurs. 


Sec. 10. It shall be the duty of the Grand Scribes of the different 
departments to conduct the correspondence and write the orders of 

388 Invisible Empire 

the chiefs of their departments, when required. And it shall further 
be the duty of the Grand Scribes of the Den to keep a list of the 
names (without caption) of the ghouls of the Den — to call the Roll 
at all regular meetings and to make the quarterly report under the 
direction of the Grand Cyclops. 


Sec. II. It shall be the duty of the Grand Sentinel to detail, take 
charge of, post and instruct the Grand Guard under the direction 
and orders of the Grand Cyclops, and to relieve and dismiss the 
same when directed by that officer. 


Sec. 12. It shall be the duty of the Grand Ensign to take charge 
of the Grand Banner of the *, to preserve it sacredly, and protect 
it carefully, and to bear it on all occasions of parade or ceremony, 
and on such other occasions as the Grand Cyclops may direct it to 
be flung to the night breeze. 


Art. V. Sec. i . The Grand Cyclops, the Grand Magi, the Grand 
Monk, and the Grand Exchequer of Dens, shall be elected semi- 
annually by the ghouls of Dens. And the first election for these 
officers may take place as soon as seven ghouls have been initiated 
for that purpose. 

Sec. 2. The Grand Wizard of the Empire, the Grand Dragons 
of Realms, the Grand Titans of Dominions, and the Grand Giants 
of Provinces, shall be elected biennially, and in the following manner, 
to wit: The Grand Wizard by a majority vote of the Grand Dragons 
of his Empire, the Grand Dragons by a like vote of the Grand Titans 
of his Realm; the Grand Titans by a like vote of the Grand Giants 
of his Dominion, and the Grand Giant by a like vote of the Grand 
Cyclops of his Province. 

The first election for Grand Dragon may take place as soon as 
three Dominions have been organized in a Realm, but all subsequent 
elections shall be by a majority vote of the Grand Titans through- 
out the Realm, and biennially as aforesaid. 

The first election for Grand Titan may take place as soon as 
three Provinces have been organized in a Dominion, but all subse- 
quent elections shall be by a majority vote of all the Grand Giants 
throughout the Dominion and biennially as aforesaid. 

The first election for Grand Giant may take place as soon as three 
Dens have been organized in a Province, but all subsequent elections 

Appendix I 389 

shall be by a majority vote of all the Grand Cyclops throughout the 
Province, and biennially as aforesaid. 

The Grand Wizard of the Empire is hereby created, to serve 
three years from the First Monday in May, 1867, after the expiration 
of which time, biennial elections shall be held for that office as 
aforesaid. And the incumbent Grand Wizard shall notify the 
Grand Dragons, at least six months before said election, at what 
time and place the same will be held. 


Art. VI. Sec. i. The Tribunal of Justice of this * shall consist 
of a Grand Council of Yahoos, and a Grand Council of Centaurs. 

Sec. 2. The Grand Council of Yahoos, shall be the Tribunal for 
the trial of all elected officers, and shall be composed of officers of 
equal rank with the accused, and shall be appointed and presided 
over by an officer of the next rank above, and sworn by him to ad- 
minister even handed justice. The Tribunal for the trial of the 
Grand Wizard, shall be composed of all the Grand Dragons of the 
Empire, and shall be presided over and sworn by the senior Grand 
Dragon. They shall have power to summon the accused, and wit- 
nesses for and against him, and if found guilty they shall prescribe 
the penalty and execute the same. And they shall have power to 
appoint an Executive officer to attend said Council while in session. 

Sec. 3. The grand Council of Centaurs shall be the Tribunal 
for the trial of ghouls and non-elective officers, and shall be com- 
posed of six judges appointed by the grand Cyclops from the ghouls 
of his Den, presided over and sworn by him to give the accused a 
fair and impartial trial. They shall have power to summon the 
accused, and witnesses for and against him, and if found guilty 
they shall prescribe the penalty and execute the same. Said Judges 
shall be selected by the Grand Cyclops with reference to their 
intelligence, integrity and fair mindedness, and shall render their 
verdict without prejudice or partiality. 

REVENUE ^'^ 0V<^^^ 
Art. VII. Sec. i. The revenue of this * shall be derived as 
follows: For every copy of this Prescript issued to the *s of Dens, 
Ten Dollars will be required. Two dollars of which shall go into 
the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the Grand Giant; two into 
the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the Grand Titan; two into 
the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the Grand Dragon, and the 
remaining four into the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the Grand 

390 Invisible Empire 

Sec. 2. A further source of revenue to the Empire shall be ten 
per cent of all the revenue of the Realms, and a tax upon Realms, 
when the Grand Wizard shall deem it necessary and indispensable 
to levy the same. 

Sec. 3. A further source of revenue to Realms shall be ten per 
cent of all the revenue of Dominions, and a tax upon Dominions 
when the Grand Dragon shall deem such tax necessary and indis- 

Sec. 4. A further source of revenue to Dominions shall be ten 
per cent of all the revenue of Provinces, and a tax upon Provinces 
when the Grand Titan shall deem such tax necessary and indispen- 

Sec. 5. A further source of revenue to Provinces shall be ten per 
cent, on all the revenue of Dens, and a tax upon the Dens, when the 
Grand Giant shall deem such tax necessary and indispensable. 

Sec. 6. The source of revenue to Dens, shall be the initiation 
fees, fines, and a per capita tax, whenever the Grand Cyclops 
shall deem such tax indispensable to the interests and purposes 
of the* . 

Sec. 7. All of the revenue obtained in the manner herein afore- 
said, shall be for the exclusive benefit of the *. And shall be ap- 
propriated to the dissemination of the same, and to the creation of a 
fimd to meet any disbursement that it may become necessary to 
make to accomplish the objects of the *, and to secure the protection 
of the same. 


Art. VIII. No one shall become a member of this *, unless he 
shall take the following oath or obligation: 

T, of my own free will and accord, and in the presence 

of Almighty God, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will never 
reveal to any one, not a member of the * * by any intimation, sign, 
symbol, word or act, or in any other manner whatever, any of the 
secrets, signs, grips, pass- words, mysteries or purposes of the * *, 
or that I am a member of the same or that I know any one who is 
a member, and that I will abide by the Prescript and Edicts of the 
* *. So help me God.' 

Sec. 2. The preliminary obligation to be adjninistered before the 
candidate for admission is taken to the Grand Cyclops for examina- 
tion, shall be as follows: 

T do solemnly swear or affirm that I will never reveal anything 
that I may this day (or night) learn concerning the * *. So help 
me God.' 

Appendix I 391 


Art. IX. Sec. i. No one shall be presented for admission into 
this *, until he shall have been recommended by some friend or 
intimate, who is a member, to the Investigating Committee, which 
shall be composed of the Grand Cyclops, the Grand Magi and the 
Grand Monk, and who shall investigate his antecedents and his 
past and present standing and connections, and if after such investi- 
gation, they pronounce him competent and worthy to become a 
member, he may be admitted upon taking the obligation required 
and passing through the ceremonies of initiation. Provided, That no 
one shall be admitted into this * who shall have not attained the 
age of eighteen years. 

Sec. 2. No one shall become a member of a distant * when there 
is a * established and in operation in his own immediate vicinity. 
Nor shall any one become a member of any * after he shall have 
been rejected by any other *. 

Art. X. The Grand Banner of this * shall be in the form of an 
isosceles triangle, five feet long and three wide at the staff. The 
material shall be Yellow, with a Red scalloped border, about three 
inches in width. There shall be painted upon it, in black, a Draco- 
volans, or Flying Dragon,^ with the following motto inscribed above 
the Dragon, 'Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus.' * 

Art. XI. This Prescript or any part or Edicts thereof, shall never 
be changed except by a two- thirds vote of the Grand Dragons of the 
Realms, in Convention assembled, and at which Convention the 
Grand Wizard shall preside and be entitled to a vote. And upon 
the application of a majority of the Grand Dragons, for that purpose, 
the Grand Wizard shall appoint the time and place for said Conven- 
tion; which, when assembled, shall proceed to make such modifica- 
tions and amendment as it may think will advance the interest, 
enlarge the utility, and more thoroughly effectuate the purposes 
of the*. 

Art. XII. The origin, designs, mysteries and ritual of this * 
shall never be written, but the same shall be communicated orally. 

^ See Webster's Unabridged Pictorial. 

' 'What always, what every where, what by all is held to be true* 

392 Invisible Empire 


I. 1st — Dismal. 7th — Dreadful. 
2nd— Dark. 8th— Terrible. 
3rd — Furious. 9th — Horrible. 
4th — Portentous. 10 — Melancholy. 
5th — ^Wonderful. 1 1 — Mournful. 
6th — ^Alarming. 12th — Dying. 

II. I— White. IV— Black. 
II— Green. V— Yellow. 
Ill— Blue. VI— Crimson. 

VII— Purple. 

III. I— Fearful. 7— Doleful. 

2 — Startling. 8 — Sorrowful. 

3 — ^Awful. 9 — Hideous. 

4 — Woeful. 10— Frightful. 

5 — Horrid. 11 — ^Appalling. 

6 — Bloody. 1 2 — Last. 


I. The Initiation Fee of this * shall be one dollar, to be paid when 
the candidate is initiated and received into the *. 

II. No member shall be allowed to take any intoxicating spirits 
to any meeting of the * Nor shall any member be allowed to attend 
a meeting when intoxicated; and for every appearance at a meeting 
in such a condition, he shall be fined the sum of not less than one 
nor more than five dollars, to go into the revenue of the *. 

III. Any member may be expelled from the * by a majority 
vote of the officers and ghouls of the Den to which he belongs, and 
if after such expulsion such member shall assume any of the duties, 
regalia or insignia of the * or in any way claim to be a member of 
the same, he shall be severely punished. His obligation of secrecy 
shall be as binding upon him after expulsion as before, and for any 
revelation made by him thereafter, he shall be held accountable in 
the same manner as if he were then a member. 

IV. Every Grand Cyclops shall read or cause to be read, this 
Prescript and these Edicts to the * of his Den, at least once in every 
three months — And shall read them to each new member when he 
is initiated, or present the same to him for personal perusal. 

V. Each Den may provide itself with the Grand Banner of the * 

VI. The *s of Dens may make such additional Edicts for their 
control and government as they shall deem requisite and necessary. 
Provided, No Edict shall be made to conflict with any of the provisions 
or Edicts of this Prescript. 

Appendix I 393 

VII. The strictest and most rigid secrecy, concerning any and 
everything that relates to the * shall at all times be maintained. 

VIII. Any member who shall reveal or betray the secrets or 
purposes of this * shall suffer the extreme penalty of the Law. 

Hush, thou art not to utter what I am. Bethink thee; it was our 
covenant. I said that I would see thee once again. 


To the lovers of Law and Order, Peace and Justice, we send 
greeting; and to the shades of the venerated Dead, we affectionately 
dedicate the * * 






Damnant quod non intelligunt. 

iZ7I Attfuru^ Ju4=U'y^ ^^w<*,«^^ ^g^ ^^ 

y^if^^<^.^^ APPELLATION 

A/X,£&ujr rti This Organization shall be styled and 

denominated, the Order of the * * *. 

^A ujtt/j 



We, the Order of the * * *j rever- 
entially acknowledge the majesty and 
supremacy of the Divine Being, and 
recognize the goodness and providence 
of the same. And we recognize our 
relation to the United States Govern- 
ment, the supremacy of the Constitu- 
tion, the Constitutional Laws thereof, 
and the Union of States thereunder. 


This is an institution of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy, and Pa- 
triotism; embodying in its genius and its principles all that is chivalric 
in conduct, noble in sentiment, generous in manhood, and patriotic 
in purpose; its peculiar objects being. 

First: To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenceless, from 
the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and 
the brutal; to relieve the injured and oppressed; to succor the 
suffering and unfortunate, and especially the widows and orphans 
of Confederate soldiers. 

Second: To protect and defend the Constitution of the United 
States, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect 
the States and the people thereof from all invasion from any source 

Third: To aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws, 
and to protect the people from unlawful seizure, and from trial 
except by their peers in conformity to the laws of the land, 


Section i . The officers of this Order shall consist of a Grand 
Wizard of the Empire, and his ten Genii; a Grand Dragon of the 
Realm, and his eight Hydras; a Grand Titan of the Dominion, and 
his six Furies; a Grand Giant of the Province, and his four Goblins; 
a Grand Cyclops of the Den, and his two Night-hawks; a Grand 
Magi, a Grand Monk, a Grand Scribe, a Grand Exchequer, a Grand 
Turk, and a Grand Sentinel. 

Sec. 2. The body politic of this Order shall be known and desig- 
nated as 'Ghouls.' 

Section i . The territory embraced within the jurisdiction of this 
Order shall be coterminous with the States of Maryland, Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, 
Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee; all combined constituting the Empire. 

39^ Invisible Empire 

Sec. 2. The Empire shall be divided into four departments, the 
first to be styled the Realm, and coterminous with the boundaries 
of the several States; the second to be styled the Dominion, and to 
be coterminous with such counties as the Grand Dragons of the 
several Realms may assign to the charge of the Grand Titan. The 
third to be styled the Province, and to be coterminous with the 
several counties; provided, the Grand Titan may, when he deems it 
necessary, assign two Grand Giants to one Province, prescribing, 
at the same time, the jurisdiction of each. The fourth department 
to be styled the Den, and shall embrace such part of a Province as 
the Grand Giant shall assign to the charge of a Grand Cyclops. 




Section i. The Grand Wizard, who is the supreme officer of 
the Empire, shall have power, and he shall be required to, appoint 
Grand Dragons for the different Realms of the Empire; and he shall 
have power to appoint his Genii, also a Grand Scribe, and a Grand 
Exchequer for his Department, and he shall have the sole power to 
issue copies of this Prescript, through his subalterns, for the organ- 
ization and dissemination of the Order; and when a question of 
paramount importance to the interests or prosperity of the Order 
arises, not provided for in this Prescript, he shall have power to 
determine such question, and his decision shall be final until the 
same shall be provided for by amendment as hereinafter provided. 
It shall be his duty to communicate with, and receive reports from, 
the Grand Dragons of Realms, as to the condition, strength, effi- 
ciency, and progress of the Order within their respective Realms. 
And it shall further be his duty to keep, by his Grand Scribe, a list 
of the names (without any caption or explanation whatever) of the 
Grand Dragons of the different Realms of the Empire, and shall 
number such Realms with the Arabic numerals i, 2, 3, etc., ad 
finem; and he shall direct and instruct his Grand Exchequer as to 
the appropriation and disbursement he shall make of the revenue 
of tlie Order that comes to his hands. 


Sec. 2. The Grand Dragon, who is the chief officer of the Realm, 
shall have power, and he shall be required, to appoint and instruct 
a Grand Titan for each Dominion of his Realm, (such Dominion 

Appendix II 399 

not to exceed three in number for any Congressional District) said 
appointments being subject to the approval of the Grand Wizard 
of the Empire. He shall have power to appoint his Hydras; also, 
a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his Department. 

It shall be his duty to report to the Grand Wizard, when required 
by that officer, the condition, strength, efficiency, and progress of 
the Order within his Realm, and to transmit, through the Grand 
Titan, or other authorized sources, to the Order, all information, 
intelligence, or instruction conveyed to him by the Grand Wizard 
for that purpose, and all such other information or instruction as 
he may think will promote the interest and utility of the Order. 
He shall keep by his Grand Scribe, a list of the names (without 
caption) of the Grand Titans of the different Dominions of his 
Realm, and shall report the same to the Grand Wizard when re- 
quired, and shall number the Dominion of his Realm with the 
Arabic numerals i, 2, 3, etc., adjinem. And he shall direct and in- 
struct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropriation and disburse- 
ment he shall make of the revenue of the Order that comes to his 


Sec. 3. The Grand Titan, who is the chief officer of the Dominion, 
shall have power, and he shall be required, to appoint and instruct 
a Grand Giant for each Province of his Dominion, such appoint- 
ments, however, being subject to the approval of the Grand Dragon 
of the Realm. He shall have the power to appoint his Furies; also, 
a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his Department. It 
shall be his duty to report to the Grand Dragon when required by 
that officer, the condition, strength, efficiency, and progress of the 
Order within his Dominion, and to transmit through the Grand 
Giant, or other authorized channels, to the Order, all information, 
intelligence, instruction or directions conveyed to him by the Grand 
Dragon for that purpose, and all such other information or instruc- 
tion as he may think will enhance the interest or efficiency of the 

He shall keep, by his Grand Scribe, a list of the names (without 
caption or explanation) of the Grand Giants of the different Prov- 
inces of his Dominion, and shall report the same to the Grand 
Dragon when required; and shall number the Provinces of his 
Dominion with the Arabic numerals i, 2, 3, etc., adjinem. And he 
shall direct and instruct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropria- 
tion and disbursement he shall make of the revenue of the Order 
that comes to his hands. 

400 Invisible Empire 


Sec. 4. The Grand Giant, who is the chief officer of the Province, 
shall have power, and he is required, to appoint and instruct a 
Grand Cyclops for each Den of his Province, such appointments, 
however, being subject to the approval of the Grand Titan of the 
Dominion. And he shall have the further power to appoint his 
Goblins; also, a Grand Scribe and a Grand Exchequer for his 

It shall be his duty to supervise and administer general and 
special instructions in the organization and establishment of the 
Order within his Province, and to report to the Grand Titan, when 
required by that officer, the condition, strength, efficiency, and 
progress of the Order within his Province, and to transmit through 
the Grand Cyclops, or other legitimate sources, to the Order, all 
information, intelligence, instruction, or directions conveyed to 
him by the Grand Titan or other higher authority for that purpose, 
and all such other information or instruction as he may think would 
advance the purposes or prosperity of the Order. He shall keep, 
by his Grand Scribe, a list of the names (without caption or explana- 
tion) of the Grand Cyclops of the various Dens of his Province, and 
shall report the same to the Grand Titan when required; and shall 
number the Dens of his Province with the Arabic numerals i, 2, 3, 
etc., ad finem. He shall determine and limit the number of Dens 
to be organized and established in his Province; and he shall direct 
and instruct his Grand Exchequer as to the appropriation and 
disbursement he shall make of the revenue of the Order that comes 
to his hands. 


Sec. 5. The Grand Cyclops, who is the chief officer of the Den, 
shall have power to appoint his Night-hawks, his Grand Scribe, 
his Grand Turk, his Grand Exchequer, and his Grand Sentinel. 
And for small offenses he may punish any member by fine, and may 
reprimand him for the same. And he is further empowered to 
admonish and reprimand his Den, or any of the members thereof, 
for any imprudence, irregularity, or transgression, whenever he 
may think that the interests, welfare, reputation or safety of the 
Order demand it. It shall be his duty to take charge of his Den 
under the instruction and with the assistance (when practicable) 
of the Grand Giant, and in accordance with and in conformity to 
the provisions of this Prescript — a copy of which shall in all cases 
be obtained before the formation of a Den begins. It shall further 
be his duty to appoint all regular meetings of his Den, and to preside 

Appendix II 401 

at the same; to appoint irregular meetings when he deems it ex- 
pedient; to preserve order and enforce discipline in his Den; to 
impose fines for irregularities or disobedience of orders; and to 
receive and initiate candidates for admission into the Order, after 
the same shall have been pronounced competent and worthy to 
become members, by the Investigating Committee herein after 
provided for. And it shall further be his duty to make a quarterly 
report to the Grand Giant of the condition, strength, efficiency, 
and progress of his Den, and shall communicate to the Officers and 
Ghouls of his Den, all information, intelligence, instruction, or 
direction, conveyed to him by the Grand Giant or other higher 
authority for that purpose; and shall from time to time administer 
all such other counsel, instruction or direction, as in his sound discre- 
tion, will conduce to the interests, and more effectually accomplish, 
the real objects and designs of the Order. 


Sec. 6. It shall be the duty of the Grand Magi, who is the second 
officer in authority of the Den, to assist the Grand Cyclops, and to 
obey all the orders of that officer; to preside at all meetings in the 
Den, in the absence of the Grand Cyclops; and to discharge during 
his absence all the duties and exercise all the powers and authority 
of that officer. 


Sec. 7. It shall be the duty of the Grand Monk, who is the third 
officer in authority of the Den, to assist and obey all the orders of 
the Grand Cyclops and the Grand Magi; and, in the absence of 
both of these officers, he shall preside at and conduct the meetings 
in the Den, and shall discharge all the duties, and exercise all the 
powers and authority of the Grand Cyclops. 


Sec. 8. It shall be the duty of the Grand Exchequers of the 
different Departments to keep a correct account of all the revenue 
of the Order that comes to their hands, and of all paid out by them; 
and shall make no appropriation or disbursement of the same except 
under the orders and direction of the chief officer of their respective 
Departments. And it shall further be the duty of the Exchequers 
of Dens to collect the initiation fees, and all fines imposed by the 
Grand Cyclops, or the officer discharging his functions. 


Sec. 9. It shall be the duty of the Grand Turk, who is the exec- 
utive officer of the Grand Cyclops, to notify the Officers and Ghouls 

402 Invisible Empire 

of the Den, of all informal or irregular meetings appointed by the 
Grand Cyclops, and to obey and execute all the orders of that 
officer in the control and government of his Den. It shall further 
be his duty to receive and question at the outposts, all candidates 
for admission into the Order, and shall there administer the prelimin- 
ary obligation required, and then to conduct such candidate or 
candidates to the Grand Cyclops, and to assist him in the initiation 
of the same. 


Sec. io. It shall be the duty of the Grand Scribes of the different 
Departments to conduct the correspondence and write the orders 
of the Chiefs of their Departments, when required. And it shall 
further be the duty of the Grand Scribes of Dens, to keep a list of 
the names (without any caption or explanation whatever) of the 
Officers and Ghouls of the Den, to call the roll at all meetings, and 
to make the quarterly reports under the direction and instruction 
of the Grand Cyclops. 


Sec. II. It shall be the duty of the Grand Sentinel to take charge 
of post, and instruct the Grand Guard, under the direction and 
orders of the Grand Cyclops, and to relieve and dismiss the same 
when directed by that officer. 


Sec. 12. The Genii shall constitute the staff of the Grand Wizard; 
the Hydras, that of the Grand Dragon; the Furies, that of the Grand 
Titan; the Goblins, that of the Grand Giant; and the Night-hawks, 
that of the Grand Cyclops. 

Sec. 13. For any just, reasonable and substantial cause, any ap- 
pointee may be removed by the authority that appointed him, and 
his place supplied by another appointment. 



Section i . The Grand Wizard shall be elected biennially by the 

Grand Dragons of Realms. The first election for this office to take 

place on the ist Monday in May, 1870, (a Grand Wizard having 

been created, by the original Prescript, to serve three years from 


Appendix II 403 

the I St Monday in May, 1867); all subsequent elections to take place 
every two years thereafter. And the incumbent Grand Wizard 
shall notify the Grand Dragons of the different Realms, at least six 
months before said election, at what time and place the same will 
be held; a majority vote of all the Grand Dragons present being 
necessary and sufficient to elect a Grand Wizard. Such election 
shall be by ballot, and shall be held by three Commissioners ap- 
pointed by the Grand Wizard for that purpose; and in the event 
of a tie, the Grand Wizard shall have the casting-vote. 

Sec. 2. The Grand Magi and the Grand Monk of Dens shall be 
elected annually by the Ghouls of Dens; and the first election for 
these officers may take place as soon as ten Ghouls have been 
initiated for the formation of a Den. All subsequent elections to 
take place every year thereafter. 

Sec. 3. In the event of a vacancy in the office of Grand Wizard, 
by death, resignation, removal, or otherwise, the senior Grand 
Dragon of the Empire shall immediately assume and enter upon 
the discharge of the duties of the Grand Wizard, and shall exercise 
the powers and perform the duties of said office until the same shall 
be filled by election; and the said senior Grand Dragon, as soon as 
practicable after the happening of such vacancy, shall call a conven- 
tion of the Grand Dragons of Realms, to be held at such time and 
place as in his discretion he may deem most convenient and proper. 
Provided, however, that the time for assembling such Convention for 
the election of a Grand Wizard shall in no case exceed six months 
from the time such vacancy occurred; and in the event of a vacancy 
in any other office, the same shall immediately be filled in the 
manner herein before mentioned. 

Sec. 4. The Officers heretofore elected or appointed may retain 
their offices during the time for which they have been so elected or 
appointed, at the expiration of which time said offices shall be 
filled as herein-before provided. 

Section i . The Tribunal of Justice of this Order shall consist of 
a Court at the Head-quarters of the Empire, the Realm, the Do- 
minion, the Province, and the Den, to be appointed by the Chiefs 
of these several Departments. 

Sec. 2. The Court at the Head-quarters of the Empire shall 
consist of three Judges for the trial of Grand Dragons, and the 
Officers and attaches belonging to the Head-quarters of the Empire. 

404 Invisible Empire 

Sec. 3. The Court at the Head-quarters of the Realm shall 
consist of three Judges for the trial of Grand Titans, and the Officers 
and attaches belonging to the Head-quarters of the Realm. 

Sec. 4. The Court at the Head-quarters of the Dominion shall 
consist of three Judges for the trial of Grand Giants, and the Officers 
and attaches belonging to the Head-quarters of the Dominion. 

Sec. 5. The Court at the Head-quarters of the Province shall 
consist of five Judges for the trial of Grand Cyclops, the Grand 
Magis, Grand Monks, and the Grand Exchequers of Dens, and the 
Officers and attaches belonging to the Head-quarters of the Province. 

Sec. 6. The Court at the Head-quarters of the Den shall consist 
of seven Judges appointed from the Den for the trial of Ghouls and 
the officers belonging to the Head-quarters of the Den. 

Sec. 7. The Tribunal for the trial of the Grand Wizard shall be 
composed of at least seven Grand Dragons, to be convened by the 
senior Grand Dragon upon charges being preferred against the 
Grand Wizard; which Tribunal shall be organized and presided 
over by the senior Grand Dragon present; and if they find the accused 
guilty, they shall prescribe the penalty, and the senior Grand Dragon 
of the Empire shall cause the same to be executed. 

Sec. 8. The aforesaid Courts shall summon the accused and 
witnesses for and against him, and if found guilty, they shall pre- 
scribe the penalty, and the Officers convening the Court shall cause 
the same to be executed. Provided the accused shall always have the 
right of appeal to the next Court above, whose decision shall be final. 

Sec. 9. The Judges constituting the aforesaid Courts shall be 
selected with reference to their intelligence, integrity, and fair- 
niindedness, and shall render their verdict without prejudice, favor, 
partiality, or affection, and shall be so sworn, upon the organization 
of the Court; and shall further be sworn to administer even-handed 

Sec. 10. The several Courts herein provided for shall be governed 
in their deliberations, proceedings, and judgments by the rules and 
regulations governing the proceedings of regular Courts-martial. 

Section i. The revenue of this Order shall be derived as follows: 
For every copy of this Prescript issued to Dens, $10 will be required; 
$2 of which shall go into the hands of the Grand Exchequer of 
the Grand Giant, $2 into the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the 
Grand Titan, $2 into the hands of the Grand Exchequer of the 

Appendix II 405 

Grand Dragon, and the remaining $4 into the hands of the Grand 
Exchequer of the Grand Wizard. 

Sec. 2. A further source of revenue to the Empire shall be ten 
per cent of all the revenue of the Realms, and a tax upon Realms 
when the Grand Wizard shall deem it necessary and indispensable 
to levy the same. 

Sec. 3. A further source of revenue to Realms shall be ten per 
cent of all the revenue of Dominions, and a tax upon Dominions 
when the Grand Dragon shall deem it necessary and indispensable 
to levy the same. 

Sec. 4. A further source of revenue to Dominions shall be ten 
per cent of all the revenue of Provinces, and a tax upon Provinces 
when the Grand Giant shall deem such tax necessary and indis- 

Sec. 5. A further source of revenue to Provinces shall be ten 
per cent of all the revenue of Dens, and a tax upon Dens when the 
Grand Giant shall deem such tax necessary and indispensable. 

Sec. 6. The source of revenue to Dens shall be the initiation fees, 
fines, and a per capita tax, whenever the Grand Cyclops shall deem 
such tax necessary and indispensable to the interests and objects 
of the Order. 

Sec. 7. All the revenue obtained in the manner aforesaid, shall 
be for the exclusive benefit of the Order, and shall be appropriated 
to the dissemination of the same and to the creation of a ftind to 
meet any disbursement that it may become necessary to make to 
accomplish the objects of the Order and to secure the protection 
of the same. 


Section i. No one shall be presented for admission into the 
Order until he shall have first been recommended by some friend or 
intimate who is a member, to the Investigating Committee, (which 
shall be composed of the Grand Cyclops, the Grand Magi, and the 
Grand Monk,) and who shall have investigated his antecedents and 
his past and present standing and connections; and after such in- 
vestigation, shall have pronounced him competent and worthy to 
become a member. Provided^ no one shall be presented for admission 
into, or become a member of, this Order who shall not have at- 
tained the age of eighteen years. 

Sec. 2. No one shall become a member of this Order unless he 
shall voluntarily take the following oaths or obligations, and shall 

4o6 Invisible Empire 

satisfactorily answer the following interrogatories, while kneeling, 
with his right hand raised to heaven, and his left hand resting on 
the Bible: 


«I solemnly swear or affirm that I will never reveal any 

thing that I may this day (or night) learn concerning the Order of 
the * * *, and that I will true answer make to such interrogatories 
as may be put to me touching my competency for admission into 
the same. So help me God.' 


I St. Have you ever been rejected, upon application for member- 
ship in the * * *, or have you ever been expelled from the same? 

sd. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Radical 
Republican party, or either of the organizations known as the 
'Loyal League' and the 'Grand Army of the Republic?' 

3d. Are you opposed to the principles and policy of the Radical 
party, and to the Loyal League, and the Grand Army of the Re- 
public, so far as you are informed of the character and purposes of 
those organizations? 

4th. Did you belong to the Federal army during the late war, and 
fight against the South during the existence of the same? 

5th. Are you opposed to negro equality, both social and political? 

6th. Are you in favor of a white man's government in this country? 

7 th. Are you in favor of Constitutional liberty, and a Government 
of equitable laws instead of a Government of violence and oppression? 

8th. Are you in favor of maintaining the Constitutional rights of 
the South? 

gth. Are you in favor of the re-enfranchisement and emancipation 
of the white men of the South, and the restitution of the Southern 
people to all their rights, alike proprietary, civil, and political? 

loth. Do you believe in the inalienable right of self-preservation 
of the people against the exercise of arbitrary and unlicensed power? 

If the foregoing interrogatories are satisfactorily answered, and 
the candidate desires to go further (after something of the character 
and nature of the Order has thus been indicated to him) and to be 
admitted to the benefits, mysteries, secrets and purposes of the 
Order, he shall then be required to take the following final oath or 
obligation. But if said interrogatories are not satisfactorily answered, 
or the candidate declines to proceed further, he shall be discharged, 
after being solemnly admonished by the initiating officer of the 
deep secresy to which the oath already taken has bound him, and 
that the extreme penalty of the law will follow a violation of the same. 

Appendix II 407 


*I of my own free will and accord, and in the presence of 

Almighty God, do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will never reveal 
to any one not a member of the Order of the * * *, by any intima- 
tion, sign, symbol, word or act, or in any other manner whatever, 
any of the secrets, signs, grips, pass-words, or mysteries of the Order 
of the * * *, or that I am a member of the same, or that I know 
any one who is a member; and that I will abide by the Prescript and 
Edicts of the Order of the * * *. So help me God.' 

The initiating officer will then proceed to explain to the new 
members the character and objects of the Order, and introduce him 
to the mysteries and secrets of the same; and shall read to him this 
Prescript and the Edicts thereof, or present the same to him for 
personal perusal. 


This Prescript or any part or Edicts thereof shall never be changed, 
except by a two-thirds vote of the Grand Dragons of the Realms, in 
convention assembled, and at which convention the Grand Wizard 
shall preside and be entitled to a vote. And upon the application 
of a majority of the Grand Dragons for that purpose, the Grand 
Wizard shall call and appoint the time and place for said convention; 
which, when assembled, shall proceed to make such modifications 
and amendments as it may think will promote the interest, enlarge 
the utility, and more thoroughly effectuate the purposes of the Order. 


The origin, mysteries, and Ritual of this Order shall never be 
written, but the same shall be communicated orally. 

I . No one shall become a member of a distant Den, when there 
is a Den established and in operation in his own immediate vicinity; 
nor shall any one become a member of any Den, or of this Order 
in any way, after he shall have been once rejected, upon application 
for membership. 

4o8 Invisible Empire 

2. No Den, or officer, or member, or members thereof, shall 
operate beyond their prescribed limits, unless invited or ordered 
by the proper authority so to do. 

3. No member shall be allowed to take any intoxicating spirits 
to any meeting of the Den; nor shall any member be allowed to 
attend a meeting while intoxicated; and for every appearance at a 
meeting in such condition, he shall be fined the sum of not less than 
one nor more than five dollars, to go into the revenue of the Order. 

4. Any member may be expelled from the Order by a majority 
vote of the Officers and Ghouls of the Den to which he belongs; 
and if after such expulsion, such member shall assume any of the 
duties, regalia, or insignia of the Order, or in any way claim to be 
a member of the same, he shall be severely punished. His obligation 
of secrecy shall be as binding upon him after expulsion as before, 
and for any revelation made by him thereafter, he shall be held 
accountable in the same manner as if he were then a member. 

5. Upon the expulsion of any member from the Order, the Grand 
Cyclops, or the officer acting in his stead, shall immediately report 
the same to the Grand Giant of the Province, who shall cause the 
fact to be made known and read in each Den of his Province, and 
shall transmit the same, through the proper channels, to the Grand 
Dragon of the Realm, who shall cause it to be published to every 
Den in his Realm, and sliall notify the Grand Dragons of contiguous 
Realms of the same. 

6. Every Grand Cyclops shall read, or cause to be read, this 
Prescript and these Edicts to his Den, at least once in every month; 
and shall read them to each new member when he is initiated, or 
present the same to him for personal perusal. 

7. The initiation fee of this Order shall be one dollar, to be paid 
when the candidate is initiated and received into the Order. 

8. Dens may make such additional Edicts for their control and 
government as they may deem requisite and necessary. Provided^ 
no Edict shall be made to conflict with any of the provisions or 
Edicts of this Prescript. 

9. The most profound and rigid secrecy concerning any and 
everything that relates to the Order, shall at all times be maintained. 

10. Any member who shall reveal or betray the secrets of this 
Order, shall suffer the extreme penalty of the law. 


Hush! thou art not to utter what I am; bethink thee! it was our 

Appendix II 


1. Dismal, 

2. Mystic, 

3. Stormy, 

4. Peculiar, 

5. Blooming, 

6. Brilliant, 



7. Painful, 

8. Portentous, 

9. Fading, 

10. Melancholy, 

11. Glorious, 

12. Gloomy. 

I. White, II. Green, iii. Yellow, iv. Amber, v. Purple, vi. Crimson, 

VII. Emerald. 


1. Fearful, 

2. Startling, 

3. Wonderful, 

4. Alarming, 

5. Mournful, 

6. Appalling, 

7. Hideous, 

8. Frightful, 

9. Awful, 

10. Horrible, 

11. Dreadful, 

12. Last. 




To the lovers of law and order, peace and justice, we send greeting; 
and to the shades of the venerated dead we affectionately dedicate 
the Order of the * * *. 



Printed in the Cincinnati Commercial, August 28, 1868, with his reply 

In August, 1 868, a mild sensation was created by the publication 
in the Cincinnati Commercial of a news-letter from its traveling 
correspondent who was then in Memphis, and who reported an 
interview with General Nathan Bedford Forrest on the subject of 
the Ku Klux Klan, then a subject of absorbing interest throughout 
the entire country. This news article was as follows: 

Memphis, Tenn., August 28, 1868. 

To-day I have enjoyed 'big talks' enough to have gratified any 
of the famous Indian chiefs who have been treating with General 
Sherman for the past two years. First I met General N. B. Forrest, 
then General Gideon A. Pillow, and Governor Isham G. Harris. 
My first visit was to General Forrest, whom I found at his office, at 
8 o'clock this morning, hard at work, although complaining of an 
illness contracted at the New York convention. The New Yorkers 
must be a bad set indeed, for I have not met a single delegate from 
the Southern States who has not been ill ever since he went there. 
But to General Forrest. Now that the southern people have elevated 
him to the position of their great leader and oracle, it may not be 
amiss to preface my conversation with him with a brief sketch of 
the gentleman. 

I cannot better personally describe him than by borrowing the 
language of one of his biographers. 'In person he is six feet one 
inch and a half in height, with broad shoulders, a full chest, and 
symmetrical, muscular limbs; erect in carriage, and weighs one 
hundred and eighty five pounds; dark-gray eyes, dark hair, mustache 
and beard worn upon the chin; a set of regular white teeth, and 
clearly cut features'; which, altogether, make him rather a hand- 
some man for one forty-seven years of age. 

Previous to the war — in 1 852 — he left the business of planter, 
and came to this city and engaged in the business of 'negro trader,' 
in which traffic he seems to have been quite successful, for, by 1 86 1 , 
he had become the owner of two plantations a few miles below here, 
in Mississippi, on which he produced about a thousand bales of 
cotton each year, in the meantime carrying on the negro-trading. 
In June, 1861, he was authorized by Governor Harris to recruit a 

Appendix III 411 

regiment of cavalry for the war, which he did, and which was the 
nucleus around which he gathered the army which he commanded 
as lieutenant general at the end of the war. 

After being seated in his office, I said: 

^General Forrest, I came especially to learn your views in regard 
to the condition of your civil and political affairs in the State of 
Tennessee, and the South generally. I desire them for publication 
in the Cincinnati Commercial. I do not wish to misinterpret you 
in the slightest degree, and therefore only ask for such views as 
you are willing I should publish.' 

'I have not now,' he replied, 'and never have had, any opinion 
on any public or political subject which I would object to having 
published. I mean what I say, honestly and earnestly, and only 
object to being misrepresented. I dislike to be placed before the 
country in a false position, especially as I have not sought the 
reputation I have gained.' 

I replied: 'Sir, I will publish only what you say, and then you 
can not possibly be misrepresented. Our people desire to know 
your feelings toward the General Government, the State govern- 
ment of Tennessee, the radical party, both in and out of the State, 
and upon the question of negro suffrage.' 

'Well, sir,' said he, 'when I surrendered my seven thousand men 
in 1865, I accepted a parole honestly, and I have observed it faith- 
fully up to to-day. I have counseled peace in all the speeches I 
have made. I have advised my people to submit to the laws of the 
State, oppressive as they are, and unconstitutional as I believe 
them to be. I was paroled and not pardoned until the issuance of 
the last proclamation of general amnesty; and, therefore, did not 
think it prudent for me to take any active part until the oppression 
of my people became so great that they could not endure it, and 
then I would be with them. My friends thought differently, and 
sent me to New York, and I am glad I went there.' 

'Then, I suppose, general, that you think the oppression has 
become so great that your people should no longer bear it.' 

'No,' he answered, 'It is growing worse hourly, yet I have said 
to the people "Stand fast, let us try to right the wrong by legislation." 
A few weeks ago I was called to Nashville to counsel with other 
gentlemen who had been prominently identified with the cause of 
the confederacy, and we then offered pledges which we thought 
would be satisfactory to Mr. Brownlow and his legislature, and we 
told them that, if they would not call out the militia, we would 
agree to preserve order and see that the laws were enforced. The 
legislative committee certainly led me to believe that our proposition 

412 Invisible Empire 

would be accepted and no militia organized. Believing this, I came 
home, and advised all of my people to remain peaceful, and to 
offer no resistance to any reasonable law. It is true that I never 
have recognized the present government in Tennessee as having 
any legal existence, yet I was willing to submit to it for a time, 
with the hope that the wrongs might be righted peaceably.' 

*What are your feelings towards the Federal Government, general?* 

'I loved the old Government in 1861; I love the Constitution yet. 
I think it is the best government in the world if administered as it 
was before the war. I do not hate it; I am opposing now only the 
radical revolutionists who are trying to destroy it. I believe that 
party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst 
men on God's earth — men who would hesitate at no crime, and 
who have only one object in view, to enrich themselves.' 

'In the event of Governor Brownlow's calling out the militia, do 
you think there will be any resistance offered to their acts?' I 

*That will depend upon circumstances. If the militia are simply 
called out, and do not interfere with or molest any one, I do not 
think there will be any fight. If, on the contrary, they do what I 
believe they will do, commit outrages, or even one outrage, upon 
the people, they and Mr. Brownlow's government will be swept 
out of existence; not a radical will be left alive. If the militia are 
called out, we can not but look upon it as a declaration of war, 
because Mr. Brownlow has already issiied his proclamation directing 
them to shoot down the Ku Klux wherever they find them; and 
he calls all southern men Ku Klux.' 

'Why, general, we people up north have regarded the Ku Klux 
as an organization which existed only in the frightened imaginations 
of a few politicians.' 

'Well, sir, there is such an organization, not only in Tennessee 
but all over the South, and its numbers have not been exaggerated.' 

'What are its numbers, general?' 

'In Tennessee there are over forty thousand; in all the Southern 
States about five hundred and fifty thousand men.' 

'What is the character of the organization, may I inquire?' 

'Yes, sir. It is a protective, political, military organization. I am 
willing to show any man the constitution of the society. The mem- 
bers are sworn to recognize the Government of the United States. 
It does not say anything at all about the government of the State 
of Tennessee. Its objects originally were protection against Loyal 
Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic; but after it became 
general it was found that political matters and interests could best 

Appendix III 413 

be promoted within it, and it was then made a political organiza- 
tion, giving its support, of course, to the democratic party.' 

'But is the organization connected throughout the State?' 

'Yes, it is. In each voting precinct there is a captain, who, in 
addition to his other duties, is required to make out a list of names 
of men in his precinct, giving all the radicals and all the democrats 
who are positively known, and showing also the doubtful on both 
sides and of both colors. This list of names is forwarded to the 
grand commander of the State, who is thus enabled to know who 
are our friends and who are not.' 

'Can you, or are you at liberty to, give me the name of the com- 
manding officer of this state?' 

'No; it would be impolitic' 

'Then I suppose there would be no doubt of a conflict if the militia 
interfere with the people; is that your view?' 

'Yes, sir; if they attempt to carry out Governor Brownlow's procla- 
mation by shooting down Ku Klux — for he calls all southern men 
Ku KJux — if they go to hunting down and shooting these men, 
there will be war, and a bloodier one than we have ever witnessed. 
I have told these radicals here what they might expect in such an 
event. I have no powder to burn killing negroes. I intend to kill 
the radicals. I have told them this and more. There is not a radical 
leader in this town but is a marked man; and if a trouble should 
break out, not one of them would be left alive. I have told them 
that they were trying to create a disturbance and then slip out and 
leave the consequences to fall upon the negro; but they can't do it. 
Their houses are picketed, and when the fight comes not one of 
them would ever get out of this town alive. We don't intend they 
shall ever get out of the country. But I want it distinctly understood 
that I am opposed to any war, and will only fight in self-defense. 
If the militia attack us, we will resist to the last; and, if necessary, 
I think I could raise 40,000 men in five days, ready for the field.' 

'Do you think, general, that the Ku Klux have been of any benefit 
to the State?' 

'No doubt of it. Since its organization the leagues have quit 
killing and murdering our people. There were some foolish young 
men who put masks on their faces and rode over the country frighten- 
ing negroes; but orders have been issued to stop that, and it has 
ceased. You may say further that three members of the Ku Klux 
have been court-martialed and shot for violations of the orders not 
to disturb or molest people.' 

'Are you a member of the Ku Klux, general?' 

'I am not; but am in sympathy and will cooperate with them. 

414 Invisible Empire 

I know they are charged with many crimes they are not guilty of. 
A case in point is the kilHng of Bierfield at FrankHn, a few days ago. 
I sent a man up there especially to investigate the case, and report 
to me, and I have his letter here now, in which he states that they 
had nothing to do with it as an organization.' 

'What do you think of negro suffrage?' 

'I am opposed to it under any and all circumstances, and in our 
convention urged our party not to commit themselves at all upon 
the subject. If the negroes vote to enfranchise us, I do not think I 
would favor their disfranchisement. We will stand by those who help 
us. And here I want you to understand distinctly I am not an 
enemy to the negro. We want him here among us; he is the only 
laboring class we have; and, more than that, I would sooner trust 
him than the white scalawag or carpetbagger. When I entered the 
army I took forty-seven negroes into the army with me, and forty- 
five of them were surrendered with me. I said to them at the start: 
"This fight is against slavery; if we lose it, you will be made free; 
if we whip the fight, and you stay with me and be good boys, I will 
set you free; in either case you will be free." These boys stayed 
with me, drove my teams, and better confederates did not live.' 

'Do you think the Ku Klux will try to intimidate the negroes at 
the election?' 

'I do not think they will. Why, I made a speech at Brownsville 
the other day, and while there a lieutenant who served with me 
came to me and informed me that a band of radicals had been 
going through the country claiming to be Ku Klux, and disarming 
the negroes, and then selling their arms. I told him to have the 
matter investigated, and, if true, to have the parties arrested.' 

'What do you think is the effect of the amnesty granted to your 

'I believe that the amnesty restored all the rights to the people, 
full and complete. I do not think the Federal Government has the 
right to disfranchise any man, but I believe that the legislatures 
of the States have. The objection I have to the disfranchisement 
in Tennessee is, that the legislature which enacted the law had no 
constitutional existence, and the law in itself is a nullity. Still I 
would respect it until changed by law. But there is a limit beyond 
which men can not be driven, and I am ready to die sooner than 
sacrifice my honor. This thing must have an end, and it is now 
about time for that end to come.' 

'What do you think of General Grant?' I asked. 

'I regard him as a great military commander, a good man, 
honest and liberal, and if elected will, I hope and believe, execute 

Appendix III 415 

the laws honestly and faithfully. And by the way, a report has been 
published in some of the newspapers, stating that while General 
Grant and lady were at Corinth, in 1862, they took and carried off 
furniture and other property. I here brand the author as a liar. 
I was at Corinth only a short time ago, and I personally investigated 
the whole matter, talked with the people with whom he and his 
lady lived while there, and they say that their conduct was every- 
thing that could be expected of a gentleman and lady, and deserving 
the highest praise. I am opposed to General Grant in everything, 
but I would do him justice.' 

The foregoing is the principal part of my conversation with the 
general. I give the conversation, and leave the reader to form his 
own opinion as to what General Forrest means to do. I think he has 
been so plain in his talk that it can not be misunderstood. 

As soon as General Forrest read this account of the interview 
with him, he addressed the following letter to the correspondent 
who wrote it: 

Memphis, September 3, 1868, 
Dear Sir: 

I have just read your letter in the Commercial, giving a report 
of our conversation on Friday last. I do not think you would in- 
tentionally misrepresent me, but you have done so and, I suppose, 
because you mistook my meaning. The portions of your letter to 
which I object are corrected in the following paragraphs: 

I promise the legislature my personal influence and aid in main- 
taining order and enforcing the laws. I have never advised the 
people to resist any law, but to submit to the laws, until they can 
be corrected by lawful legislation. 

I said the militia bill would occasion no trouble, unless they vio- 
lated the law by carrying out the governor's proclamation, which 
I believe to be unconstitutional and in violence of law, in shooting 
men down without trial, as recommended by that proclamation. 

I said it was reported, and I believed the report, that there are 
forty thousand Ku Klux in Tennessee; and I believe the organiza- 
tion stronger in other states. I meant to imply, when I said that the 
Ku Klux recognize the Federal Government, that they would obey 
all State laws. They recognize all laws, and will obey them, so I 
have been informed, in protecting peaceable citizens from oppres- 
sion from any quarter. 

I did not say that any man's house was picketed. I did not mean 
to convey the idea that I would raise any troops; and, more than 
that, no man could do it in five days, even if they were organized. 

41 6 Invisible Empire 

I said that General Grant was at Holly Springs, and not at 
Corinth; I said the charge against him was false, but did not use 
the word *liar.' 

I can not consent to remain silent in this matter; for, if I did so, 
under an incorrect impression of my personal views, I might be 
looked upon as one desiring a conflict, when, in truth, I am so 
averse to anything of the kind that I will make any honorable 
sacrifice to avoid it. 

Hoping that I may have this explanation placed before your 
readers, I remain, very respectfully, 

N. B. Forrest 



John Scott, Senator from Pennsylvania, was born in that state in 
1824, was elected as a Republican in 1868 and served from March, 
1869, to March, 1875, not being a candidate for re-election. 

Zachariah Chandler, Senator from Michigan, was born in New 
Hampshire in 181 3, and was prominent in the organization of the 
Republican Party in 1854. He served in the Senate from 1857 to 
1875, being defeated for re-election that year, but was re-elected 
again in February, 1879, and served until his death in November 
of the same year. 

Benjamin Franklin Rice, Senator from Arkansas, was bom in 
New York State in 1828. He was admitted to the bar in Kentucky, 
and later moved to Minnesota. He served as captain and adjutant 
general in the Minnesota volunteers during the Civil War, but 
settled in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1864, taking up the practice of 
law there. He helped organize the Republican Party in Arkansas, 
and was elected to the Senate in 1868, serving until 1873, when 
he resumed his law practice in Arkansas. 

John Pool was born in North Carolina in 1826, and was elected 
to the Senate as a Republican from that state, serving from 1868 to 
1873, and not being a candidate for re-election. 

Daniel Darwin Pratt, Senator from Indiana, was born in Maine 
in 1 81 3 and moved to Indiana in 1832; he was elected to the Senate 
in 1869 and served until 1875. 

Francis Preston Blair, Jr., Senator from Missouri, was bom in 
Kentucky in 182 1. He served in the Mexican War, and resigned 
from the House of Representatives in 1861 to become a colonel in 
the Union army, advancing to the rank of brigadier general. He 
was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice-President on the Democratic 
ticket in 1868, but was elected to the Senate in 1871 to fill the un- 

41 8 Invisible Empire 

expired term of Charles D. Drake, resigned. He served until 1873, 
and was not a candidate for re-election. 

Thomas Francis Bayard, Sr., was a native of Delaware and was 
elected to the Senate from that state as a Democrat in 1869, serving 
until 1885, when he resigned to become Secretary of State. 

Luke Potter Poland, Representative (and previously Senator) 
from Vermont, was born in that state in 181 5. He was elected to 
the House as a Republican, serving from 1867 to 1875, being an 
unsuccessful candidate for re-election. 

Horace Maynard, Representative from Tennessee, was born in 
Massachusetts in 1814, moving in 1839 to Tennessee, where he be- 
came active in politics as a Whig. He was elected to the House as 
a Republican, serving from 1866 to 1875, not being a candidate 
for re-election. 

Glenni William Scofield, Representative from Pennsylvania, was 
born in New York State in 181 7. He was elected to Congress as 
a Republican, serving from 1863 to 1875; he was not a candidate 
for re-election. 

John Franklin Farnsworth, Representative from Illinois, was 
born in Canada in 1820, later moving to Michigan and then to 
Chicago. He was elected as a Republican in 1857 and served until 
1 86 1, not standing for re-election. He served in the Union army 
during the Civil War, reaching the rank of brigadier general, but 
was elected to Congress again in 1863 and resigned his commission 
to take up his duties in the House. He served until 1873, being an 
unsuccessful candidate for re-election. 

John Coburn, Representative from Indiana, was born in that 
state in 1825; he served in the Union Army, being breveted brigadier 
general in 1865, and was elected to Congress in 1867. ^^ served 
until 1875, an unsuccessful candidate for re-election. 

Job Evans Stevenson, Representative from Ohio, born in that 
state in 1832, was elected to Congress as a Republican and served 
from 1869 to 1873, when he resumed his practice of law in Cincinnati. 

Benjamin Franklin Butler, Representative from Massachusetts, 
was born in New Hampshire in 1818, moving to Massachusetts in 
1828. He was a delegate to the Democratic national conventions 
in Charleston and Baltimore in i860; he entered the Union army 
as a brigadier general in 1861, and rose to be a major general, 
resigning in 1865, after commanding at New Orleans, Fortress 

Appendix IV 419 

Monroe, etc. He was elcote'J to Congress as a Republican in 1867 
and served until 1875, als-o from 1877 to 1879, declining to stand 
for renomination. 

William Esselstyne Lansing, Representative from New York, 
was bom in that state in 182 1. He was elected to Congress as a 
Republican in 1 86 1 , serving until 1 863 ; he was not a candidate for 
re-election, but was elected again in 1871 and served until 1875, 
when he retired voluntarily to practice law. 

Samuel Sullivan Cox was bom in Ohio in 1824; he was elected 
to Congress from that state as a Democrat and served from 1857 to 
1 865, being an unsuccessful candidate for re-election. He moved to 
New York City in 1865, and was elected to the House from that 
state in 1869, serving until 1873, when he was defeated for re-elec- 
tion, but was subsequently elected to fill out a vacancy caused by 
the death of James Brooks, and then served in the ^ouse until 
1885, when he resigned to accept a diplomatic position. In 1886 
he was again re-elected to Congress, and served until his death in 

James Bumie Beck, Representative (and later Senator) from 
Kentucky, was born in Scotland in 1822. He was elected to Congress 
as a Democrat and served from 1867 to 1875, then served in the 
Senate from 1876 until his death in 1890. 

Philadelph Van Trump, representative from Ohio, was born 
in that state in 1810; was elected to Congress as a Democrat and 
served from 1867 to 1873; he was not a candidate for re-election. 

Alfred Moore Waddell, Representative from North Carolina, 
was born in that state in 1834; he was elected to Congress as a 
Democrat and served from 1871 to 1879, being an unsuccessful 
candidate for re-election. 

James Carroll Robinson, Representative from Illinois, was bom 
in that state in 1823. He was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 
1859, serving until 1865 and not seeking re-election. He was elected 
to the House again in 1871 and served until 1875, when he volun- 
tarily retired. 

James Millander Hanks, Representative from Arkansas, was 
born in Arkansas in 1833. He was elected to the House as a Demo- 
crat in 1 87 1 and served until 1873, not seeking re-election. 

Charles Waldron Buckley, Representative fi-om Alabama, was 
born in Unadilla, New York, in 1835. He served in the Union army 

420 Invisible Empire 

as chaplain of a colored regiment, and after he was mustered out 
settled in Alabama, where he became superintendent of education 
for the Bureau of Education and Freedmen. Upon the readmission 
of Alabama to the Union he was elected to Congress and served 
in the House from 1868 to 1873; he was not a candidate for re- 

Burton Chauncey Cook, Representative from Illinois, was born 
in New York State in 181 9, moving to Illinois in 1835. He was 
elected to Congress as a Republican and served from 1855 to 1871, 
when he resigned and resumed the practice of law. 

Daniel Wolsey Voorhees, Representative and Senator from 
Indiana, was born in Ohio in 1827, moving to Indiana in early 
childhood. He was elected to the House as a Democrat and served 
from 1 86 1 to 1865 and from 1869 to 1873. He later served Indiana 
as a Senator from 1877 to 1897, and was an unsuccessful candidate 
for re-election. 


Avary, Mrs. Myrta (Locke tt): Dixie After the War. New York, 1906. 
Beard, James Melville: K.K.K. Sketches ^ Humorous and Didactic. 

Philadelphia, 1877. 
Bowers, Claude G.: The Tragic Era. Boston, 1929. 
Brewster, James: Sketches of Southern Mystery, Treason and Murder. 

Milwaukee, 1903. 
'Brown, William G.: The Lower South in American History. New York, 

Bryant, Benjamin: Experience of a Northern Man among the Ku Klux. 

Hartford, 1872. 
Clayton, Powell: The Aftermath of the Civil War in Arkansas. New 

York, 1 91 5. 
Cox, Samuel S.: Three Decades of Federal Legislation. Providence, 1885. 
Damon, Eyre: When the Ku Klux Rode. New York, 191 2. 
Dixon, Edward H.: The Terrible Mysteries of the Ku Klux Klan. New 

York, 1868. 
Fertig, James Walter: The Secession and Reconstruction of Tennessee. 

Chicago, 1898. 
Ficklen, John Rose: History of Reconstruction in Louisiana. Baltimore, 

Fleming, Walter L. : Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama. New York, 

Fleming, Walter L. : Documents Relating to Reconstruction. Morganton, 

West Virginia, 1 904. 
Fleming, Walter L.: Documentary History of Reconstruction. Cleveland, 

Garner, James W.: Reconstruction in Mississippi. New York, 1901. 
Henry, Robert Selph: The Story of Reconstruction. Indianapolis, 1938. 
Herbert, Hilary A.: Why the Solid South? Of Reconstruction and Its 

Results. Baltimore, 1890. 
Leland, John A.: A Voice from South Carolina. Charleston, 1879. 
Lester, J. C, and Wilson, D. L.: Ku Klux Klan, Its Origin, Growth and 

Disbandment. Nashville, 1884. 
Lester, J. C, and Wilson, D. L. (with Introduction by Walter L. 

Fleming): Ku Klux Klan. New York, 1905. 
Lonn, Ella: Reconstruction in Louisiana after 1868. New York, 191 8. 

422 References 

McNeily, J. S.: 'War and Reconstruction in Mississippi,' in Proceed' 
ings of the Mississippi Historical Society. 

Morgan, A. T.: Tazoo, or the Picket Line of Freedom. Washington, 1884. 

Pike, J. S.: The Prostrate State; South Carolina under Negro Government. 
New York, 1874. 

The NatiorCs Peril; Twelve Years' Experience in the South. Published 
by the friends of the compiler. New York, 1872. 

The Papers of Randolph Abbott Shortwell. North Carolina His- 
torical Commission, Raleigh, 1929. 

United States Congress: Report of Joint Select Committee to In- 
quire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary 
States. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1872. 13 vols. 

Warmoth, H. C: War^ Politics and Reconstruction. New York, 1930. 


Dixon, Thomas: The Clansman. New York. 

Krey, Laura: And Tell of Time. Boston, 1938. 

Tourgee, Albion W. : A FooVs Errand, by One of the Fools. New York, 

Tyler, Charles W. The K.K.K. New York, 1902. 



'A Reverend Gentleman's Evening 
Prayer,' 332 

Abbott, Sen., 200-201 

Abemathy, Mr. Clayton, 363 

Akerman, Amos T., 234 

Alabama, University of, 1 28-1 31 

Alachua County, Fla., 267, 276-277 

Alamance County, N.C., 195, 197, 200 

Alarming month, 37 

Alcorn, Gk)v., 155-156, 167 

Alexandria Rapides Tribune, 288 

Allen, Thomas M., 174-175 

Allisson, R. A., 90-91 

Allston, Jim, 310 

Ames, Gen. Adelbert, 147 

Andrews, W. J., 348 

And Tell of Time, Laura Krey, 285 

Anniversary demonstration, first, 83-84 

Anti-Ku Klux law, Georgia, i; Tenn., 
107-108, 358; Miss., 155-156, 197, 
199, 350; see also Shoffner Law 

Appeal, see Memphis Appeal 

Arnell, S. M., loi 

Ashley County, Ark., 247, 258 

Atkinson, Gen. Homer, 193 

Atlanta Constitution, 183 

Attakapas Parish, La., 290 

Augusta Constitutionalist, 187 

Augusta Register and Chronicle, 334-335 

Avalanche, see Memphis Avalanche 

Avalanche, 52, 53, 194, 332 

Avery, Dr. Edward T., 241 

Avery, Maj. J. W., 222 

Babington, R., 288 
Baker County, Fla., 279 
Baker, Cullen, 259 
Bald Rock Den, 204 
Balus, 119 
Bankhead, C. H., 240 

Banner, see Nashville Banner; Republican 
Banner; Yazoo Banner; also Franklin 
Planters Banner 

Barmore, Capt. Seymour, 1 08-1 12 

Bate, W. B., 103 

Bayard, Sen. T. F., 296, 297, 298, 299 

Beck, Rep. James B., 178, 297, 306-308 

Beckwith, Bishop, 337-338 

Bedford County, Tenn., 80 

Berrier, 361 

Bicknell, John, 81 

Bierfield, murder of, 106 

Biggerstaff, Aaron, 202-211 

Biggerstaff, Samuel, 202-210 

Billings, Josh, 328 

Bird, Mose, 306 

Birth of a Nation, The, 194 

'Black Cavalry, The,' 115 

Black Horse Cavalry, 354 

Black Ku Klux, 362-363 

'Black Panthers, The,' 51 

Black Tom, see Tom Roundtree 

Blackford, Judge William T., 322-323 

Blair, Sen. Frank P., 177, 296, 297, 299, 

Bond, Hon. Hugh L., 240 
Boston Tea Party, 30 
Boyd, Alexander, 1 21-125 
'Boys in Blue,' 95 
Bradley, Aaron Alpeoria, 1 73 
Bradley County, 258 
Bragg, Gen. Braxton, 350 
Bragg, Gk)v., 211 
Bramlette, Judge, 161 
Brantley, James, 161 
Bratton, Dr. J. Rufus, 239-240 
Brooks, Judge, 201 
Brothers' War, The, John G. Reed, 188^ 

Brown, John G., 103 



Brown, Joseph E., i68 

Brown, Gov. Neill S., 375 

Brown, Samuel G., 241 

Brownlow, Gov. Wm. G., spies of {see 
Parker), 17; made Gov. of Tenn., 74; 
franchise, 74; oppressive regime, 75- 
77; offers reward for ca^Jture of 
K.K.K., 96; and the Nashville K.K.K., 
107; requests additional Federal 
Troops, 1 01-104; anti-Ku Klux law, 
107-108; resigns office of gov., 1869, 
112; declares martial law in Tenn., 
325* 357; and Loyal League, 373 

Brownlow government, 16, 50, 74, 97 

Brownlow militia, 50 

Brundridge, W. N., 254 

Brunson, R. J., 217 

Bryan, Hon. George S., 240 

Bryant, Homer, 269 

Bryant, Dr. Javan, 229-230 

Bryson, Judge William, 265-266 

Buckley, Rep. Charles W., 297, 299 

Buckner, Gen. S. B., 350 

Bullock, Gov. Rufus B., 172, 174, 180- 
184, 328 

Burch, Lucius E., Jr., 57 

Burnt Chimney Den, 204 

Burrow, LeRoy L., 254, 256-257 

Butier, Benjamin F., 151-152, 183, 297 

Cabarrus County, N.C., 193 

Caldwell, Sam, 121 

Calendar of K.K.K., 37 

Camden County, S.C., 221 

Camilla riot, 173-174 

Canadian Government, 239-240 

Cannon, Gabriel, 231 

Cantrell, Julius, 309 

Carbonari, 30 

Carlin, Gen., 89-90 

Carpenter, Judge Richard B., 218 

Carpenter, T. B., 204-205 

Carson, William P., 203 

Carter, Dr. Benj., house of, 15 

Casey, C. L., 233, 352 

Caswell County, 198-200 

Catahoula Parish, La., 288 

Catterson, Gen., 258-259 

Caucasian Club, 345 

Central Democratic Assoc, 147, 288 

Chalfin, S. F., 283 

Chamberlain, Daniel H., 215, 240 

Chandler, Sen. Zachariah, 296 

Charleston Courier, 231 

Chatham County, N.C., 197 

Cheatham, B. F., 103 

Cherry Mt. Den, 204 

Chester Coimty, S.C., 217, 221, 235, 238 

Chesterfield County, S.C., 217, 235 

Christopher, Capt., 224 

Cincinnati Commercial, 130, 320, 375 

Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 30 

Citizen, see Pulaski Citizen 

Claiborne Parish, La., 289-290 

Clansman, The, Thomas Dixon, Jr., 194 

Clanton, Gen. James H., 309-310 

Clark, Capt. Edwin W., 347 

Clayton, Gov. Powell, 245, 247-262 

Clayton's Militia, 257-259 

Clearfield, 123 

Cleveland County, N.C., 192, 222 

Clinton County, S.C., 221 

Clipper, see Warrenton Clipper 

Clop ton, William, 159-162 

Cloud, Dr. N. B., 1 29-1 31 

Coburn, Rep. John, 297 

Code, 37, 40, 67 

Coffee County, Tenn., 80 

Coker, Dr. Garlington, 127 

Coker, J. P., 270-272 

Cole, John, 145-146 

Coleman, Daniel, 12, 142 

Coleman, John Tayloe, 137-139 

Coleman, William, 302-305, 306 

Columbia County, Ark., 247 

Columbia Herald, 363-365 

Columbia Republican, 231 

Colwin, Sam, 1 21-122 

Commercial, see Cincinnati Commercial; 
also Rome Southerner and Commercial 

Cone, R. W., 279 

Confederate Veteran, 95 

Confederate Vigilantes, 284 

Congressional Investigating Committee, 
and uniforms of K.K.K., 58; Prescript 
of K.K.K., 41, 54; special sub-com- 
mittee in S.G., 232-234; constitution 
of Young Men's Democratic Club, 
266-267; Knights of White Camelia, 
285-286; Senate Committee in N.C., 
295-296; appointment of Joint Select 
committee of members of Senate and 
House of Representatives, 295-297; 
sub-committee of eight, 297, 299; re- 
jection of precautionary measures, 
297-298; influence of politics, 298- 
299; sub-committees of five, 299-300; 
and Gen. James H. Clanton, 309-310; 
and Gen. N. B. Forrest, 267, 316, 321, 
356; and David Schneck, 361-362; 
and Gen. John B. Gordon, 169-172, 
186; see also Witnesses and Report of 

Constitution Alliance, 95 

Constitution, see Atlanta Constitution 

Constitutional Union Guards, 197 

Constitutionalist, see Augusta Constitution' 

Convention, Nashville, 32-33 



Conway County, Ark., 247 

Cook, Rep. Burton C, 297 

Cook, George R., 265-266 

Corbin, D. T., 240 

Council of Peace, 103 

Councils of Safety, N.C., 230-231, 353- 

Courier^ see Rome Courier^ also Charleston 

Courier Journal^ see Louisville Courier 

Cox, Rep. Samuel S., 216, 297 
Craighead, Breast & Gibson, 328 
Craighead County, Ark., 247 
Crews, Joe, 2 1 9-220 
Crittendon County, Ark., 247 
Crockett Sentinel, 284-285 
Crowe, Capt. James R., 9 
Cudd, F. R., 370-371 
CuUen, John, 121 

'Cumberland,' 40 * 

Cummings, A. W., 332 
Cundiff, W. H., 285 

Darden, Dr. G. W., 181-183 

Dark month, 37 

Davis, Anderson, 212, 361 

Davis, Joe, 65-66, 164-165 

Davis, Nicholas, 126 

'Death's Brigade,' 335-336 

de Blanc, Col. Alcibiade, 344, 345 

Democrat, see St. Louis Democrat 

Democratic Clubs, see Central Demo- 
cratic Club and Yoimg Men's Demo- 
cratic Club 

*Den,' ID 

Denby, Maj., 258 

Dennis, L. G., 276-277 

De Priest, Decatur, 203 

De Priest, J. R., 55 

Dibrell, G. G., 103 

Dicken, 196 

Dickinson, John Q., 269-271 

Diggs, Frank, murder of, 138 

Dillard, Geo. F., 154 

Dillard, Richard, 154-155 

Dismal month, 37 

Division of territory, 34, 39 

Dixon, Thomas, 100 

Dixon, Thomas, Jr., I94» S^S 

Documentary History of the Reconstruction, 
Dr. W. L. Fleming, 343 

Douglas, 372 

Dow Blair's Regulators, 352 

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 13 

Dreadful month, 37 

Drew County, Ark., 247, 258 

Dry Tortuga, The, saloon, 121 

DuBosc, Maj. Dudley M., 96, 175 

DuBosc,J.J., 251 
Duprce, Jack, 65-66 
Durham, Tom, 372 
Durham, Plato, 2 1 1 
Dying month, 37 

Eastman, A. H., 105 
Edwards, William L., 256-257 
Ely, 270-271 
Emory, Gen. W. H., 291 
Enquirer, see Yorkville Enquirer"; also Cin- 
cinnati Enquirer 
Ensign of K.K.K., 56-57 
Equal Rights, see Pontotoc Equal Rights 
Ethridge, 178-179 

Evening Mail, see New York Evening Mail 
Examiner, see Gallatin Examiner 

Fairfield County, S.C., 217, 235 

Farnsworth, John F., 297 

Fayette County, Ala., 136-137 

Fayette County, Tenn., 105 

Federal Ku Klux Act, 1871, Oxford 
trial in Miss., 162; arrests in Miss, 
under, 167; passed by Congress 1871, 
184, 296, 374; prosecutions in N.G., 
202, 209; in S.G., 242; Major Mer- 
rill collects reward, 272; effect of Act 
in Tenn., 369; opinion against law, 


Ficklen, John Rose, History of Reconstruc- 
tion in Louisiana, 286-287 

Findlayson, Dr., 271 

Findley, Murchison, 140 

Five Orange Pips, The, Sir Arthur Conan 
Doyle, 13 

Fleishman, Samuel, 268-269 

Fleming, Dr. W. L., 116; Documentary 
History of the Reconstruction, 343; 351 

Flournoy, Col. Robert W., 152 

Floyd County, Ga., 179-180 

Fool*s Errand, A, Albion W. Tourgee, 195 

Ford, Capt. John, 249-250 

Forney, Gen. William H., 310 

Forrest, Gen. Nathan Bedford, as Grand 
Wizard, 96, 254, 312-316; as organizer 
of K.K.K. in Huntsville, Ala., 115- 
116; in Aberdeen, Miss., 149; in At- 
lanta, Ga., 193, 245; in Ark., 245; 
as witness before Congressional Inves- 
tigating Conamittee, 267, 309, 316- 
321; home of, 53; organizes volunteer 
police for Memphis election, 76; con- 
tact with Memphis Public Ledger, 95; 
speech on Brownlow Militia, 96; 
Council of Peace, 103; Grand Dragon 
of the Realm, 113; Hesper incident, 
250-251; and the Pale Faces, 346; 



order for disbandment, 356, 357, 359; 

see also 284, 360 
'Forrest's Artillery,' Capt. John W. 

Morton, 315 
Forshee, Michael, 163, 165 
Fortune, Emanuel, 268 
Foster, Charles W., 240-241 
Fowler, Dr. Wade, 224 
Franklin County, Miss., 350 
Franklin Parish, La., 289 
Franklin Planters Banner, 290 
Franklin Review, 44-45 
Free Companions, 30 
Freedmen's Bureau, 3, 105, 147, 215, 

265, 288, 354 
Freeman, Douglas S., 313 
Froelich, Col. Jacob, 254, 257 
Fulton County, Ark., 247 
Function of K.K.K., 20, 31, 44, 45, 68- 

69, 202 
Furies, 34 
Furious month, 37 
Fussell, Joe, 113 

Gallatin Examiner, 102 

Garfield, James A., 32, 374 

Garrison, Bill, 372 

Gaston County, N.C., 192, 195 

Gathright, Dr. Thomas G., 350 

Gauze, Hon. C. L., 261 

Gazette, see luka Gazette', also, Searcy 
Gazette, and Trenton Gazette 

Gelray, Lt.-Col. Joseph W., 90-91 

'General Order No. 30,721,' 335 

Genii, 34, 35 

Gentry, L. M., 233 

Gholson, Gen. Samuel J., 165-166 

'Ghouls,' 10 

Gibbs,J. C, 266 

Gibson County, Tenn., 80, 105, 107 

Giles County, Tenn., 20, 77-78, 105, 
107, 366 

Glascock, John, 326-327 

Gordon, Gen. Geo. W., 33, 103, 113, 
216-217, 3 1 4-3 1 5» 365-366 

Gordon, Gen. John B., 169-172, 174, 
175, 186 

Gorman, John L., 153 

Grady, Henry W., 184, 185 

'Grand Army of the Republic,' 95 

Grand Banner, 57 

Grand Cyclops, as chief officer of Den, 
10, 34; Pulaski Citizen, 22; election of 
and term of office, 35; and candidate 
for membership, 36; calling meetings, 
50; Grand Ensign, 57; marching sig- 
nals of, 66, 67 

Grand Dragon of the Realm, 34, 35 

Grand Ensign, 34, 57 

Grand Exchequer, 34, 35 

Grand Giant, 34, 35 

'Grand Magi,' 10, 34 

Grand monk, 34 

'Grand Scribe,' 10, 34, 35 

Grand Sentinel, 34 

Grand Titan, 34, 35 

'Grand Turk,' 10, 34 

Grand Wizard of the Empire, 34-35, 
319, 321, 358 

Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., 2-3, 73, 147, 
1 68; see also Grant, Pres. 

Grant, Pres. Ulysses S., message to 
Congress re Ga., 177; instigates con- 
gressional investigation in N.C., 190; 
in S.C., 234-235; proclamation to 
S.C., 232, 235; federal Ku Klux Bill, 
232; pardons for convicted Ku Klux, 
242; special message to Congress re 
K.K.K. 1870, 295-296; and Gen. 
N. B. Forrest, 360; election of, 375- 
376; also 131, 178, 332 

Great Grand Cyclops, 25; see also For- 
rest, Gen. N. B. 

Greeley, Horace, 251 

Green, William, 105 

Greene County, Ala., 117, 120-125 

Grip, 51-53 

Growth of new Klans, 29-31, 92, 114- 
116, 149 

Gunn, Kirkland L., 240-241 

Guthrie, James, 372-373 

Hale, Samuel A., 114-116 
Hall, justice of peace, 278 
Hamilton, Col. Charles Memorial, 272- 

Hanmier, W. T., 119 
Hampton, Gen. Wade, 355 
Hanks, James M., 297 
Hardeman County, Tenn., 105 
Hardy, Jim, 227 
Harless, D. M., 119 
Harper, R. D., 131 
Harper's Weekly, 327-328 
Harrill, John B., 193-194 
Harris, Frank C, 223 
Harris, Joel Chandler, 1 75 
Hartsville Vidette, 91 
Hatch, Henry, 164, 165 
Haywood County, Tenn., 107, 372 
Heggie's Scouts, 149 
Heitburg, Capt., 27 
Herald, see New York Herald; also Lake 

City Herald, and Columbia Herald 
Herando County, Fla., 267 
Heroes of America, 202 
Hesper, 248-252, 279 
Hightower, E. A., 331-332 



Hill, B. H., 375 

Hobbes, 361 

Hogg, Robert, 79 

Holden, Joseph W., 63 

Holden, Gov. W. W., 63, 190, 191, 197- 

201, 212-213, 295 
Holland, John G., 256-257 
Horrible month, 37 
Horse Creek Den, 204 
Horton, Benjamin, 127-128 
Horton, Samuel, 128 
Howard, Gen., 176 
Hoyt, Lt. George S., 186 
Hudnall, Thomas, 289 
Huggins, A. P., 1 50-1 5 1 
Hughes, Jim Boyd, 306 
Humphreys, Benjamin G., 147-148 
Himt, Col., 201 
Hunters' Club, 284 
Huskie, 'Doc,' 301 
Hydras, 34 

Illustrated News, see New York Illustrated 

Independence County, Ark., 253 

Independent Monitor, see Tuscaloosa Inde- 
pendent Monitor 

Initiation ceremony, 14-17, 36, 39, 43 

Innocents, 287 

Isaac the Apostle, 301 

luka Gazette, 163 

Jackson County, Fla., 268-275 

Jackson County, Tenn., 107 

Jayhawkers, 354 

Jefferson County, Ala., 341 

Jenkins, Gov. Charles J., 168-169 

Johnson, Pres. Andrew, alleged sympa- 
thy with K.K.K., 7, 104; as military 
gov. of Tenn., 74; appoints Sharkey 
Grov. Miss., 147; appoints Johnson 
Gov. Ga., 168; appoints Perry Gov. 
S.C., 214; Attorney Gen. under, 240; 
Gov. Marvin in Fla., 263, and Gov. 
Holden, 240; also 191 

Johnson, Bushrod, R., 103 

Johnson, E. G., 278-279 

Johnson, Gov. James, 168 

Johnson, Hon. Reverdy, 240 

Johnson, William, 372 

Jones, Hamilton C., 194 

Jones, J. Calvin, 9 

Jones, Dr. Pride, 197 

Jones, Judge Thomas M., 9 

Journal, see Norfolk Journal; also Louis- 
ville Courier Journal, and Montgomery 
State Journal 

Justice, James M., 63, 204-210 

Kellogg Black Militia, 346 

Kennard, Adam, 156, 158, 162 

Kennedy, Capt. John B., 9, 10, 11 

Kerr, Uncle Ben, 223 

Kershaw, Gen., 231 

Kirby, Judge, 178-179 

Kirk, Col. George W., 200, 201 

Kirk's 'Angels,' 200 

Knights of the Black Cross, 350 

Knights of the White Camelia, 285-286, 

Knoxville Whig, 76 

Krey, Laura, And Tell of Time, 285 

'Ku Klux baby,' 126-128 

Ku Klux cocktails, 328 

Ku Klux Klan Knife, 328-329 

Ku Klux Klan Schottische and Mazurka, 
Steinbagen, R. L., 329 

Ku Klux handbook, 357 

Ku Klux hats, 328 

Ku Klux law, see Federal Ku Klux Act 

Ku Klux music, 328-329 

Ku Klux poetry, 332-337 

Ku Klux Report, Congressional Com- 
mittee, 2, 75, 300; see also Congres- 
sional committee, final report 

Lake City Herald, 278 
Lakin, Rev. A. S., 1 25-1 31 
Lafayette County, Ark., 247 
Lafayette Parish, La., 290 
Lancaster County, S.C., 2 1 7, 235 
Lansing, Rep. William E., 297, 299 
Lauderdale County, Miss., 156-162 
Laura Krey, And Tell of Time, 285 
Laurens County, S.C., 217, 219-221, 

227, 230-232, 235, 239 
Laurens Riot, 230-232 
Lawrence County, Tenn., 107, 366 
Lea, Capt. John G., 198-199 
Lea, Waldon, 198 
Leach, Gov., 56 
Leach oath, 56 

Leachman, Judge Robert, 162 
Lee County, Miss., 145-146 
Lee, Gen. Robert E., 312-313 
Leigh, Mrs. Frances Butler, Ten Tears 

on a Georgia Plantation, 169 
Lemmon, M. J., 288 
Leonard, Judge Thomas, 77 
Leon County, Fla., 264-265, 267-268 
Lestage, H. Oscar, Jr., 'White League 

in Louisiana,' 287 
Lester, Capt. John C, 9, 357-359 
Libby, Geo. W., 95 
'Lictors,' 10, 16, 17, 18 
Limestone County, Ala., 135-136, 142- 

Lincoln, Pres. Abraham, 74 



Lincoln County, Tenn., 79, 105, 210 

Little River County, Ark., 247 

Logan, Gen., 95 

Logan, Judge George W., 204-205, 209 

Long, Judge T. T., 276 

Louisville Courier Journal, 112, 376 

Lowe, Col. William M., 1 15-1 16 

Lowndes County, Miss., 150 

Loyal League, theme of, 3; develop- 
ment of, 26; meetings of, 27; measures 
against, in Tenn., 31, 79, 92, 104; in 
Miss., 147-148; in Ga., 169; in N.C., 
196, 213; in Texas, 284-285; estab- 
lishment of league in Tenn., 75; in 
Ala., 115, 126; in Miss., 159-160; in 
Fla., 264; Franklin Riot, 76; arson in 
Tuscumbia, Tenn., 124; in Congres- 
sional Investigation Report, 107; out- 
break in Meridian, Miss., 159-160; 
influence vote for Bullock in Ga., 1 74; 
Holden head of League in N.C., 191; 
in A Fool's Errand, 195; Wyatt Out- 
law, 197; meetings in N.C., 198; asso- 
ciated societies, 202; excesses of, 332; 
Brownlow and, 373 

Lumpkin, Ben, 163 

Lynch, Lt., 135-136 

Madison County, Fla., 277-278, 280 
Madison County, Tenn., 107 
Maney, George, 103 
Manifesto, Ku Klux, see Federal Ku 

Klux Act 
Mann, Henry, 1 1 3 
Marion County, S.C., 235 
Marshall County, Tenn., 79, 105, 107, 

113. 336, 366 
Marshall, Hon. Humphrey, 8-9 
Martin, Col. Thomas, 10, 11 
Marvin, Gov. William, 263 
Masons, 343 
Maury County, Tenn., 80-81, 105, 107, 

Maury, Gen. Dabney H., 351 
Maynard, Rep. Horace, 296, 299 
McAfee, Col. LeRoy, 194 
McCauley, John M., 254, 256-257 
McClary, 278 

McClellan, Col. C. F., 271-272 
McClellan, Miss, daughter of Col. 

McClellan, 271-272 
McCord, Frank O., 9, 33, 41 
McDuffy, Capt. Frank, 91-92 
McFarlane, W. W., loi 
McGahey, 203 
McGowan, Gen., 231 
McLain, Rufus, 51, 223 
McRae, Gen. Dandridge, 254, 257 
Meade, Gen. George G., 26, 169, 1 74, 334 

Meadows, W. R., 290 

Meeting place, 10, 15, 50-51 

Melancholy month, 37 

Membership in K.K.K., 15-16, 39, 48 

Memphis Appeal, 8 

Memphis Avalanche, 250, 335 

Memphis Public Ledger, 92-95, 251 

Meridian Riot, 156-162 

Merrill, Maj. Lewis, 234, 241-242, 368- 

Methods of K.K.K., 19-20, 49-50, 67- 

69, 82 
Metropolitan Magazine, 100, 315 
Millar, John S., 240 
Miller, Henry, 121 
Miller, murder of, 140 
Mimms, farmer, 196 
Mississippi Valley Historical RevieWy 354- 


Mitchell, John W., 241 

Mitchell, Robert Hayes, 240, 241 

Mitchell, Capt. Thomas J., 199 

MonitoTy see Tuscaloosa Independent Moni- 

Monroe County, Ark., 247 

Monroe County, Miss., 149-150, 163- 
166, 348 

Montgomery County, Ala., 117 

Montgomery County, Tenn., 85 

Montgomery, David, 277-278 

M.ontgomery Sentinel, 120 

Montgomery State Journal^ 324 

Moore, Aaron, 159-162 

Morehouse Parish, La., 289 

Morgan, Charles, 332-334 

Morton, Capt. John W., 51, 85, 99, 

Morton, Sen., 295 

Morton's, Capt., Den, 99 

Moses, Franklin J., 215 

'Mossbacks,' 136 

Moss Troopers, 30 

Motto of K.K.K., 57, 377 

Moulton, W. A., 289 

Mournful month, 37 

Mullens, James R., 370-371 

Murphy, Gov. Isaac, 243 

Murphy, Mrs., 47 

Myers, Frank, 267 

Name of K.K.K., 8, 11-13, 41 
Nashville Banner, 99, 375 
Nashville Convention, see Convention 
Nashville Press and Times, 104, 339, 373 
Nashville Union and American, 99 
Nashville Union and Dispatch, 78-79, 

Native Sons of the South, 348-349 
Nettie Jones, 249-250 



Newberry County, S.C, 217, 221, 227, 

235, 238 
New Orleans Times, 345 
New York Evening Mail, 95 
New York Herald, 26, 236-238 
New York Illustrated News, 43-44 
New York Sun, 209-210 
New York Tribune, 174, 250-251 
New York World, 200, 362 
News, see Savannah News 
'Night Hawks,' 10, 34, 50 
Norfolk Journal, 337 
Norris, *Chap,' 180-183 

Oath of Allegiance to K.K.K., 36, 

54-56; see also Shotwell Oath, Yorkville 

Oath, and Leach Oath 
Obion County, Tenn., 86-87, 105 
Odd Fellows, 343 
Officers of K.K.K., names of, 10, 34; 

duties of, 34-35; election of, 35, 113 
Officers of Pale Faces, 347 
Ogden, Frederick N., 346 
Oglethorpe County, Ga., 1 75 
Oliver, Thomas, 199 
Orange County, N.G., 197 
Ord, Gen., 148, 149 
Organizer of K.K.K., see Forrest, 

Gen. N. B. 
Origin of K.K.K,, fantastic theories, 

7-8, 19; social club in Pulaski, 9-10; 

21-22; 44; 77; in Ala., 1 16 
Orr, Gov. James L., 214-216 
Ouachita Parish, La., 288 
Outlaw, Wyatt, 197 
Overton County, Tenn., 80, 107 
Owens, A. B., 224 
Owens, William K., 51, 223 
Oxford, trial in, 162-166 

Page, Aleck, 163-166 

Page, Fanny, 164 

Pale Face, 348 

Pale Faces, 318, 346-348 

Palmer, Jos. B., 103 

Parker, Albert H., 253-257 

Parker, Tenn. Tax Collector, 340 

Penalties imposed by K.K.K., 45, 

Perry, Gov. Benjamin Franklin, 214, 216 
Pickens County, Ala., 117, 1 24 
Pickens, Judge, 157 
Pickett, Lt., 151 
Pickett, Col. A. C, 261 
Pike, Gen. Albert, 245-246, 337 
Pillow, Gideon J., 103 
Pine Bluff Republican, 246-247 
Planters Banner, see Franklin Planters 


Poland, Rep. Luke P., 296, 297 

Pollard, Judge Austin, 152-154 

Pontotoc Equal Rights, 1 52 

Pontotoc Raid, 152-155 

'Pontotoc Times,' 154 

Pool, Sen. John, 192, 296, 297, 299 

Pope, Gen. John, 168-169, 263 

Portentous month, 37 

Porter, Dr. H. H., 154-155 

Postle, Isaac A., 301 

Posde, Mrs., wife of Isaac the Apostle, 

Pousser, Richard, 275 

Pratt, Sen. Daniel P., 296, 299 

Prescript of 1867 (original), 33-37, 54, 
281, 357 

Prescript of 1868, opening declaration 
of purpose, i, 38; revision of original 
Prescript, 38; territory covered, 39; 
article on elegibility for membership, 
39-40; change in code, 40; use of 
stars for name, 2, 41; changes in oath 
of allegiance, 54-55; no reference to 
banner, 58; preserved copy of, 113; 
duty of Grand Wizard, 321 

Press and Times, see Nashville Press and 

Price, Daniel, 156-159 

Publications of the Mississippi Historical 
Society, 146 

Public Ledger, see Memphis Public Ledger 

Pulaski Citizen, 13, 21, 23-25, 33, 41, 83 

Purman, Maj. W. J., 271-275 

Purpose of K.K.K., 16, 18, 20, 31, 38, 
45> 366 

Quarles, Wm. A., 103 

Rainey, Jim, see Williams, Jim 
Randolph, Ryland, 60, 1 16-120, 129- 

131. I39j 140, 323-324 
Rapides Tribune, see Alexandria Rapides 

Rattlesnake Den, 221-222 
Recognition, sign of, 51-54 
Reconstruction Act, 32, 168, 215, 244- 

Reconstruction, Documentary History of the. 

Dr. W. L. Fleming, 343 
Reconstruction in Louisiana, History of, 

John Rose Ficklen, 286-287 
Reconstruction legislature, see anti- 

Ku Klux law of Ga.; Federal Ku 

Klux law; Reconstruction Act; Shoff- 

ner Law 
Reconstruction, Story of, Henry, 264 
Red Jackets, 348 
Red Shirts, 355 



Red Strings, 202 

Reed, Gov. Harrison, 263-264, 265, 275, 

Reed, John Calvin, 175, The Brothers^ 

War, 188-189 
Reed, Richard R., 9, 11 
Regalia of K.K.K., 13, 58-66, 78, 83, 

117, 137 
Register and Chronicle, see Augusta Register 

and Chronicle 
Regulators, 354 
Report of Congressional Investigating 

Committee, Final Report, 44, 70, 300; 

majority report, 57, 201, 233, 281-282, 

285-286, 291; minority report, 2, 75, 

201, 234 
Republican, see Columbia Republican, also 

Pine Bluff Republican 
Republican Banner, 76, 99 
Review, see Franklin Review 
Reynolds, Gen., 284 
Rhoads, Jesse, 339 
Rice, Sen. Benjamin F., 296, 299 
Richards, Prof. J. F. D., 139-140 
Richardson, Mark, 266 
Richmond Whig, 8 
'Robertson Family,' 351-352 
Robinson, Rep. James C, 297, 299 
Rogers, Calvin, 272, 275 
Rome Courier, 185 

Rome Southerner and Commercial, 184-185 
Romine, W. B., 13 
Roper, George, 306-308 
Rose, Edward M., 222-224 
Ross, Geo. R., 150 
Roundtree, Tom, 221, 235 
Rousseau, Gen., 344 
Ruger, Gen., 133-135 
Russell, Barnett, 308-309 
Russell, James W., 254 
Rutherford County, N.C., 55, 192, 202- 

Rutherford County, Tenn., 105 
Rutherford ton Star, 204 
Rutherfordton Vindicator, 204 

Sabine Parish, La., 288-289 
Sadler, Tom, 155 
St. Bernard Parish, La., 288 
St. Helen Parish, La., 289 
St. Landry Parish, La., 291 
St. Louis Democrat, 376 
St. Martin Parish, La., 290 
St. Mary Parish, La., 290 
San Domingo, 28 
Sapp, William, 278 
Saunders, 317 ^ 

Savannah News, 1 88 
Sawyer, B. F., 185 

Schenck, David, 55, 194, 210-212, 

Schurz, Sen., 374 

Scofield, Rep. Glenni W., 296-297, 299 
Scott, Sen. John, 232-234, 296, 299, 

Scott, Gov. Richard K., 215-216, 218, 

230-232, 242 
Searcy Den, 254 
Searcy Gazette, 254 
Secret-Service Committee, 267-268 
Seibels, E. W., 353 
Senter, Gov. D. C., 11 2-1 13 
Sentinel, see Montgomery Sentinel, also 

Crockett Sentinel 
Sessions, J. F., 350 
Seven Confederate Knights, 7 
Seventy-Six Assoc, 350-351 ^ 
Sevier County, Ark., 247 
Seymore, 177 

Seymour and Blair Society, 287 
Sharkey, Wm. A., 147 
Sheets, G. C, 1 31-132 
Sheldon, 330 
Shepherd, Gen. 1 19-120 
Sherman, Gen. W. T., 160, 177-178, 

247, 374 
Shoffner law, 199-200, 202 
Shoffner, Sen., 197 
Shotwell oath, 55, 56 
Shotwell, Capt. Randolph A., 55, 204 
Silver Cycle No. I, 347 
Simmons, T. Y., 231 
Slay ton, John W., 261 
Slickers, 352 

Smith, Extra Billy, 267-268 
Smith, Tom B., 103 
Snoddy, Sam, 121 
Snyder, William, 223 
Somers, Robert, 30, 326 
Southern States Since the War, The, Robert 

Somers, 30 
Southerner, see Rome Southerner and Com- 
Spartan, 332 
Spartanburg County, S.C., 217, 227, 

231, 232, 235-238, 309, 332 
Spies, treatment of, 16-17 
•Spirit of the South,' Luther C. Tibbets, 

Spottsylvania County, Va., 282-283 
Stanbery, Hon. Henry, 240 
Stanton, Edwin M., 168 
Star, see Rutherfordton Star 
State Journal, see Montgomery State 

Steinbagen, R. L., 'Ku Klux Klan 

Schottische and Mazurka,' 329 
Stephens, Sen. John W., 198-199 



Stevens, Matthew, 225-227 
Stevenson, Rep. Job E., 232, 239, 297 
Stevenson, Sen., 317, 321 
Stokes, Gapt. John G., 324 
Stoneman, Gen. Geo., 283 
Stroheimer, Collector, 80 
Summey, 361 

Summons, James B., 282-283 
Sumter County, Ala., 156 
Sun, see New York Sun 

Taft, Pres. Howard, 252 

Taliaferro, John R., 52, 349-350 

Tallapoosa County, Ala., 115 

Taylor County, Fla., 266 

Taylor, Pres. Zachary, 240 

Ten Tears on a Georgia Plantation, Mrs. 
Frances Butler Leigh, 169 

Terrible month, 37 

Terry, Gen. A. H., 176-178 

Thomas, Gen., loi 

Thomas, Judge, 226 

Thomason, Dr., 222, 227 

Thompson, E. ID., 113 

Thurlow, Judge Silas, 1 34 

Tibbets, Luther C, 282-283 

Tidwell, Judge B. F., 277 

Tillson, Gen. Davis, 354 

Times, see New Orleans Times', Union- 
ville Times', Vicksburg Times', also 
Nashville Press and Times', and 'Ponto- 
toc Times' 

Tomlinson, John M., 223 

Toombs, Robert, 175 

Tourdain, Dr. Tom, 289 

Tourgee, Judge Albion W., 28, 193, 195, 

Trenton Gazette, 339-340 

Tribunal of Justice, 34, 39, 46 

Tribune, see New York Tribune, also 
Alexandria Rapides Tribune 

Triplett, Sol, 305-306 

Trumbull, Sen., 374 

Turman, E. F., 89-91 

Tuscaloosa County, Ala., 117 

Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor, 1 16-120, 
1 29-1 31, 139, 140, 323-324. 326-327 

Tyler, Warren, 159-162 

Uncle Remus Magazine, Joel Chandler 

Harris, 175 
Uniforms of K.K.K., see regalia 
Union and American, see Nashville Union 

and American 
Union and Dispatch, see Nashville Union 

and Dispatch 
Union County, S.C., 217, 224-230, 231, 

232, 235, 238 

Union League, 26, 107, 171, 173, 212, 

216, 265 
Union Parish, La., 288 
Union Reform Party, 218 
Unionville Times, 228 
Upham, Gen., 261 

Van Buren County, Tenn., 79 

Vance, Gov. Zebulon, 190, 194 

Van Trump, Rep. Philadelph, 232-234, 

Vicksburg Times, 148 
Vidette, see Hartsville Vidette 
Vindicator, see Rutherfordton Vindicator 
Voorhees, Rep. Daniel W., 297, 299 

Waddell, Rep. Alfred, 297 

Wade, Sen., 177 

Wager, John H., 135-136 

Wake County, N.C., 196 

Walker, Dave (negro), 79 

Walker, Gov. David S., 263 

Wallace, Charles, 181 

Walton, W. D., 163-166 

Ware and Co., Frederick, 329 

Warren County, Ga., 180-183 

Warrenton Clipper, 181 

Washington, Bill, 1 41-142 

Washington Parish, La., 288 

Wayne County, Tenn., 87-91 

Weir, Leonard L., 142-143 

Wells, G. Wiley, 52 

West, Thomas M., 273 

Whig, see Richmond Whig, also Knox- 
ville Whig 

White Brotherhood, 193, 352 

White County, Ark., 247, 254-257 

White League, 287, 292, 345-346, 355 

'White League in Louisiana,' H. Oscar 
Lestage, Jr., 287, 292 

White Rose oath, 350 

White Rose, Society of, 349-350 

Whitesides, Dr. Thomas B., 241 

Whitfield, H. S., 116 

Wickes,J. H., 327-328 

Wilcox, Gen. Cadmus, 351 

Wilder, Capt. C. B., 276 

Wiley, Sheriff, 199 

Williams, Jim, 221-222, 235 

Williams, Joseph John, 267-268 

Williard, R. H., 278 

Willis, Burrill, 163 

Willis, Jefferson, 163 

Wilson, D. L., 357 

Winston County, Miss., 302, 306 

Witnesses, examination of, under Con- 
gressional Investigating Conamittee, 
12; 44; 297-298; 299; 300-311; in 



N.C., 190; in Tenn., 50; in Ala., 
125-126, 306-308; in Miss., 166-167, 
302-306; in Ga., 169-172, 184-186, 
301; in S.C, 232-234, 308-309; in 
Fla., 265, 266-268, 279 

Womble, Thomas W., 29 

Wonderful month, 37 

Woodruff County, Ark., 247, 261 

World, see New York World 

Worth, Jonathan, 191 

Wright, John T., 115 

Wright, Gen. Luke E., 252 
Wyeth, Dr. John A., 313 

Yazoo Banner, 333r334 

Yazoo County, Miss., 332-334 

York County, S.C, 217, 221-224, 227, 

232, 234-235, 368-369 
Yorkville Enquirer, 368-370 
Yorkville oath, 56 

Young Men's Democratic Club, 266-268 
Young's Mountain Den, 47-48 


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