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The Rise of KKK in Colorado in the Late 1880s

Introduction of KKK in Colorado

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a clan that was known for its cruel murders caused by racial discrimination. The late 1800s saw the rise of the KKK in Colorado, the USA. This does not mean that racial discrimination did not exist in any other region of the USA and the world, though it gained power in Colorado among authoritative people of that time. The Klan has split into three prominent movements when it became more significant. However, the early Klan included a minority group that has spread its ideas all over the United States, especially in the early 1869s and at the end of World War I. Initially, in the early 1860s, the movement was established for the purpose of ensuring that white Americans were dominant in the country. In this respect, the keyword was ‘domination’ of the white population of the US; the blacks were discriminated against in various forms which demonstrated that the supremacy of the whites can be questioned.

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The opposition had no right to exist as every expression of discontent was cruelly punished and discouraged by people that could represent different social layers. Each of these three phases of the KKK history had a certain goal. However, each goal was based on racial or religious discrimination and the principle of inequality between people that are supposed to enjoy equal rights according to the US Constitution. Discrimination is one of the burning issues of contemporary society; the history of the KKK shows a small group of people that can spread its ideas and influence the lives of people by means of physical assault.

Periods of the KKK history in Colorado

Emergence and fall of the First phase of KKK

The beginning of the KKK movement can be traced to a gathering by six ally veterans in Pulaski in 1865. It is obvious that any formal organization has a certain goal and all the efforts are aimed at attaining this specific goal. The KKK of the First phase had a definite goal as well. The Klan commenced its activities peacefully whereby it was involved in ritual administration responsibilities as well as jokes cracking. However, a sudden change had changed the goal; members of the KKK started attacking the black population of the country. As the black Americans had organized segregations in order to protect themselves and their families from the lawlessness of the KKK members, the movement started raiding the settlements and confiscating the weapons of blacks so that they obeyed the power of whites and their only right to domination.

The Federal Army was in the control of the South when the American Civil War had ended. Colorado saw the attacks of the KKK by the time when the war had come to an end. Immigration started and opened the way for people from all over the world as well as from southern Europe who knew about the outcome of the war. In this situation, the KKK members claimed that their main objective was to protect Protestants and white women from those immigrants. The Civil War was officially claimed by the KKK as the one of primary importance. Besides, the members concealed themselves from society and no one could definitely accuse someone of racial discrimination and intolerance. More power was implicitly given to the KKK when blacks started threatening whites that their women would be raped and impregnated.

The political life of the country had been also infected with intolerance spread by the KKK members. As the dominance was prevailing as a goal for the Ku Klux Klan people, they tried not to let blacks take revenge on them later and avoid any expressions of people’s opposition in the future. Later activities of the Klan’s First phase organization were based on a desire to control politics and not let blacks influence the life and laws of Americans. In this respect, the education of the blacks had been put under question. The KKK approached the best way to make the black population of the USA less educated and hence deprived them of an opportunity to govern the social or political life of the country as well as run business.

Economically independent are able to oppose the impact of the oppressors. Blacks were unable to control their lives due to their inefficiency to gain money independently from the whites. A superior position in terms of financial wealth enabled the blacks to be more educated, become active members of the political and social life of the country. Though the concept of superiority due to economical stability was spread mostly in Colorado, the source of the movement, blacks were not regarded as the ones deserving to be treated equally with the whites regardless of the position. In this respect, the work of the blacks was put under question in all cases, the managing positions and minor ones. The same prejudice served to deprive the black of the right to vote and to have weapons for self-defense. However, the Klan demonstrated hostility towards blacks as well as to white republicans who defended the rights of the latter and could influence public opinion concerning the way blacks should be treated in society (MacLean, p. 274).

The First phase of the KKK history ceased their activities in Colorado and adopted other views concerning the goals of this organization. As the primary target of the Klan was the black population and the dominance of the whites, its activity came to an end when the consequences of the Civil War became obvious and the blacks started gaining wider rights and opportunities. The KKK movement became more numerous and influential, though they had to stop their attacks on blacks due to political reasons. Many contemporary members of the Ku Klux Klan took a position in the political sector that made them influential as never before. In this respect, the movement ceased its activities in order to be an integral part of the whole country. Besides, the Klan was stopped with the help of the Federal cavalry. As the members adopted different directions, the movement was left in the hands of less informed whites and simian churches. These predecessors never had the influence and capability to continue with the objectives of the First phase movement.

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Emergence and fall of the Second phase of KKK

The second phase of the KKK movement saw its rise in early 1920 under the reign of Grand Dragonship. This phase of the Klan’s history was based on the fears of people after World War I; “…many residents of Colorado, like Americans everywhere, found themselves full of fear after the World War I – fears of hard times, of the communism of Karl Marx, of Eugene Debs and his American socialism, of the industrial workers of the world and their violence, of spies in the land working for a foreign government” (Goldberg, p. 192). This situation was caused by the war, its consequences, and instability. When people are afraid of something, they become more liable to influence from outside. The same principle is usually used by religious sects; when depressed people address them, they are searching for some comfort and can believe anything they are told.

Though the activities of the Klan were not valued before, this period of world history demonstrated unanimity of the population; people were united by a single idea and common fears. In this respect, the ideas propagated by the KKK members became the ones of main concern for most Americans regardless of their racial and religious tolerance. The study by Wade suggests that all people were involved in this agonistic and terrifying activity of persecuting blacks as well as Catholics and successful businessmen. Jews and non-Jews were persecuted equally, on the same basis. The companies could not operate effectively due to the lack of common laws that would be respected and followed by all participants of this activity. However, unfair competition or even ignoring the opponents’ rights was based on the principles established by the KKK members.

The unemployed people were recruited by the Klan members in order to carry out the attacks on successful businessmen (Pegram, p. 79). Immigration became as important as during the First phase of the KKK activities when people saw some opportunities in this land. However, the dreams of immigrants that were seeking fair competition and appropriate conditions for their businesses were doomed to crash due to lack of confidence the next day. People were afraid of everything and could not afford ordinary people to run the business on their land. Americans and, especially, the KKK members thought about the dominance and could not stand other people using some opportunities given by the political situation, economic conditions, and working potential.

The second phase of the KKK movement was complicated and the objectives were difficult to understand regarding the actions of the KKK members. However, the ability and desire to unite under a common goal can be considered one of the positive effects produced by the operation of the Second phases KKK movement. Racial discrimination was not regarded due to the main targets of this stage. According to the study by MacLean, “…it called for the emergence of a man on horseback to trigger the advent of the Klan in Colorado” (p. 278). People were prosecuted for their successful business and religious beliefs. Jews and Catholics were attacked as well immigrants from all over Europe.

Class, ignorance, prejudice, and fear were major factors that facilitated the rise and spread of this KKK ‘infection’. Besides, the Mafia society was another factor that contributed greatly to the progress of the KKK activities in Colorado and in the united states in general. It did not prosecute people as the KKK members did; the Mafia was a kind of organization that kept Catholic ideologies and was powerful enough to resist the rise of the KKK activities. There were significant cases of lynching, kidnapping, and death threats in the state (Wade, p. 52). All these acts of violence were not explained by the activity of the Klan as the primary goal. The violence was an accompanying factor of gaining more power regarding the political life of the country.

The emergence of the present phase of the KKK

The present era of the KKK activities can be considered the one aimed at preventing the establishment of public schools. The period dating from the end of World War II until the 1970s saw an expansion of the Klan’s membership. According to the study by Pegram, “its leader David Duke claimed that the main objective of the Klan was to see that the whites had regained their pride which had long been weathered away by integration and introduction of southern culture in the state” (p. 86). In this respect, there was no reason for the KKK activities. Besides, the influence of the KKK members in the political sector was not so important anymore.

As every period of history suggests its own specific conditions for people to operate, it is necessary to enlarge on the contemporary goals of the Ku Klux Klan members. Less than one hundred members can be considered active nowadays. Though the original ideology of the KKK members was based on Protestantism, contemporary members of the KKK, also referred to as ‘knights of the Ku Klux Klan, had incorporated Christianity with neo-Nazism. Due to the activities, they undertook in the past, they had been banned from holding public rallies. Regardless of their previous activities, they were given a right to hold public meetings and take part in the political life of the country. In Colorado, the current KKK state appears in the face of paramilitary activities within the Klan’s various parties.

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The image of the present KKK activities is rather positive despite its violence in previous phases and some demonstrations of violence is present. Minor groups of the contemporary activities can not be compared to the previous success and expanded membership of the Klan. Different crimes committed by individuals rather than groups contribute to the negative image of the Klan. The operation of the Klan’s activities is greatly facilitated by the era of information and communication technologies that help to propagate the ideologies of the KKK via the Internet.

Conclusion

The history of the state can be traced through the activities of its people. The activities of the Ku Klux Klan demonstrate the ideologies incorporated by citizens, the mood of the public, and the attitude towards non-members in Colorado. The concept of discrimination was of paramount importance for the KKK members that operated during the first phase, whereas the second phase can be considered the most religiously marked one as Catholics and successful immigrants were prosecuted and oppressed. The last phase of the KKK history can be considered the one that would lead to the total disappearance of the KKK activists. The current Klan which has invented a Christian cover but still holds its original violent operations had its rise after World War II. The movement has found it easy to carry on its operations as well as recruit new members due to the presence of computer and internet technologies in Colorado. Though the contemporary KKK members are allowed to hold public meetings, the major characteristic of the Klan, violence, is not so evident as before.

Works Cited

  1. Goldberg, Robert. Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981. Print
  2. MacLean, Nancy. Behind the mask of chivalry: the making of the Second Ku Klux Klan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print
  3. Pegram, Thomas. “Hoodwinked: The Anti-Saloon League and the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Prohibition Enforcement.” Journal of Gilded Age and Progressive era 7.1 (2008): 76-92.
  4. Wade, Wyn. The Fiery Cross: the Ku Klux Klan in America. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. Print

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