"The Ku-Klux"
Harper's Weekly, November 4, 1871, pages 1026-1027 (Editorial)
That the bitter hostilities of the war would survive it, was to be expected. That the hatred of the government and of the influences which were victorious would long continue, was only natural; and that its consequences should be turned upon the race whose slavery was the cause of the war, and whose freedom was the sign of the victory, was not surprising. The terror which prevails in certain parts of the late rebel States, under the name of the Ku-Klux, is undeniable. Yet how strong party feeling upon the subject is at the North may be seen in the fact that when the statement of a just man from one of the Southern States was read in the Senate, that fifty thousand persons had been murdered by the Ku-Klux since the war closed, it was asserted by an opponent that there had not been one. And we are still, despite railroads and telegraphs, so far from the Southern States, that few persons who have not carefully read or heard the unquestionable reports are willing to believe in the confusion and terror that still prevail in many parts of that region.

If any one, however, will talk with quiet and careful observers from the interior of the Southern States, who are really friendly to the government, yet who would live peaceably with their neighbors, he will find that the stories of the Ku-Klux are true. An indirect proof of it is such a tale as the following, which we know to be true. A negro in one of the Southern States had violently assaulted both a black girl and a white woman. He was brought to the jail by a crowd of whites and blacks, including among the latter the father of the girl, at three o’clock in the afternoon. The same night about midnight a body of men, variously estimated from twenty-five to forty, and clad in uniform, appeared in the village, awakened the keeper of "the store," ordered him to give them a piece of rope, then summoned the jailer to deliver the keys, and taking out the negro, they hung him without delay. This was not a political offense, and the verdict of many will be that he was served right. But the point is that the man was hung by a body of persons in uniform, and uniforms are not improvised for such purposes between three o’clock in the afternoon and midnight. The uniform was prepared for a purpose, and was the sign of an organized body of lawless men. It is idle to say that the law would have been powerless in the case, for the colored father was as hostile as any white man could be; and had a jury been composed exclusively of the offender’s own race, he would have suffered.

The significant fact in all this lawlessness and terror is that it is chiefly political. The masked blow of the Ku-Klux always falls upon some loyal man, black or white, and always upon a Republican. Democrats are unharmed. It is not a terror for those who attempted to destroy the government during the war, but for those who sustained it. The conclusion is irresistible that it is an organization of Democrats. This fact is made still more unquestionable by the denials and sneers of Northern Democrats. They call it rawhead and bloody-bones, a bugaboo of scared radicals, and a device invented to authorize military coercion of Democratic districts. But if every victim in the Southern States who is taken from his home and scourged, or mangled, or murdered were a Democrat instead of a Republican, how the land would ring with the cry that a radical Administration abandoned innocent citizens to the tender mercies of savages!

Of course the darkness and the mystery with which the Ku-Klux is enveloped serve both to exaggerate and to conceal the truth. Some foolish fellow will foolishly threaten a neighbor, who will laugh at him for his pains and publish his threat, and it will then be said that such folly is a specimen of the Ku-Klux. But the long list of terrible outrages which are authenticated, the suffering privately revealed and proved by the scarred person, but which even the sufferer will not publish, lest murder should follow scourging—these things are not ridiculous. They argue a state of society which is simply intolerable, and for whose continuance all who scornfully affect to disbelieve are morally responsible. If the Democratic party were resolved that the Ku-Klux should disappear, it would be heard of no more. If it were as anxious to restore and confirm the tranquility of the Southern States as it is to throw the odium of military despotism upon a government which seeks to protect innocent citizens from cruel lawlessness, that lawlessness would cease. The country will not forget that the Democratic party sustains the Ku-Klux by affecting to deny its existence; that the terror which is undeniable in certain parts of the Southern States is Democratic; and that the party whose leaders refuse to assist the authorities in maintaining order hopes to elect a President and obtain control of the government.

Harper's Weekly, November 4, 1871, pages 1026-1027 (Editorial)

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