This Day in History

Dec. 24, 1865: Ku Klux Klan Founded

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: Voting Rights, Reconstruction, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity
Ku Klux Klan | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Line drawing of Ku Klux Klan members who were captured with their disguises and hoods. January 6, 1872. Source: Library of Congress

On December 24, 1865, the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee.

The group became dedicated to the suppression of Reconstruction reforms and seeks to restore white supremacy through terrorist activity, including murder, rape, destruction of property, and intimidation against freed people and their white Republican allies. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,

The Ku Klux Klan, with its long history of violence, is the oldest and most infamous of American hate groups. Although Black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and, until recently, Catholics.

Learn more about Reconstruction and the Klan in the teaching guide “The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy.”