Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Presence of a Mysterious Force

There existed three Klans in American history: the first of the late 1860s which had no flag to wave; the second of the Great War-era which was a Stars & Stripes waving, anti-immigration and anti-Catholic (a sensitivity perhaps best represented by the earlier Free Soil Party of the North) group which included a Supreme Court Justice; and the 1960s variation which quickly became more heavily-populated with government informants than actual members.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Presence of a Mysterious Force:

“The Ku Klux disturbance touched me but lightly. The newspapers were full of it, but my mind felt only the reverberations. Our neighborhood was disturbed only once by the night riders. It didn’t appear that the moral sense of the community was at all outraged by this violence. The only feeling seemed to be one of awe in the presence of a mysterious force: no one knew who they were or where they came from or where they went; they were only visitants from another world; nobody could guess where the lightening would strike next.

It is a mistake to suppose the Ku-Klux Klan was the Confederate army under a new uniform; it was not. There was no thrust against the Union. There were plenty of old Confederate soldiers in the ranks of the Ku Klux, but as a matter of fact they didn’t at that time care a rap about the Union one way or another.

Their intent was to bring order out of chaos….If any of my readers remember Griffith’s photoplay, The Birth of a Nation, and remember the look on the face of the Little Colonel when he unhooded, they will see what I saw on men’s faces in those days. I couldn’t have put it into words, but I felt it: it meant courage, resolution to endure, solidarity of thought and feeling. This combination was hard to stop; it couldn’t be reached by Federal courts or Federal bayonets.

(Son of Carolina, Augustus White Long, Duke University Press, 1939, pp. 35-36)

Presence of a Mysterious Force

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