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1867, American English, Kuklux Klan, a made-up name, supposedly from Greek kyklos "circle" (see cycle (n.)) + English clan. Originally an organization of former Confederate officers and soldiers, it was put down by the U.S. military, 1870s. Revived 1915 as a national racist Protestant fraternal organization, it grew to prominence but fractured in the 1930s. It had a smaller national revival 1950s as an anti-civil rights group, later with anti-government leanings.
A secret society dedicated to the supremacy of white people in the United States. It began in the South during the time of Reconstruction and attempted to terrorize the many southern blacks and carpetbaggers who had replaced white southerners in positions of power. The Klan gained renewed strength in the 1920s and again in the 1960s but is now very diminished. It has stated that it aims to preserve “pure Americanism.” It has attacked Jews and Roman Catholics, along with immigrants and communists but is still primarily opposed to equal rights for black people and has often engaged in violence against them. Klansmen wear white hoods and robes. Klan leaders have titles such as Grand Dragon, Grand Cyclops, and Imperial Wizard.
Note: A favored tactic of Klansmen is to burn a wooden cross outside the house of someone whom they wish to intimidate. Typically, they want the occupant to move out of the vicinity. The burning cross is a threat of future assaults if the victim does not do what the Klan wants.