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Ku-KluxThe Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction$
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Elaine Frantz Parsons

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625423

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625423.001.0001

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The Roots of the Ku-Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee

The Roots of the Ku-Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee

Chapter:
(p.27) One The Roots of the Ku-Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee
Source:
Ku-Klux
Author(s):

Elaine Frantz Parsons

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625423.003.0001

The Klan was founded not by southern plantation owners but by politically moderate, fairly cosmopolitan, border-state professionals in Pulaski, Tennessee. These young white men, facing the political, economic, and cultural collapse of the South in the wake of the war, developed the Klan as a diversion. Yet from the beginning they understood the potential political significance of southern social and cultural organizations such as the Klan, particularly as they confronted a confident and competent group of emerging black leaders in Pulaski. Because of their liminal position between North and South, the Pulaski Ku-Klux drew heavily on ideas circulating in the urban North. The Pulaski Klansmen understood the problem of the Reconstruction-era Klan as a problem of modernity and provided a way for the defeated southern white man to position himself in terms of the modern. This chapter explores the Klan’s slow beginnings in Pulaski, arguing that its growth was later than historians have understood, and traces its transformation into a violent and explicitly political organization more than one year after its beginnings.

Keywords:   Ku-Klux Klan, Pulaski, Tennessee, Freedpeople, Racal violence, Costuming, Klan Prescript, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Frank McCord, Pulaski Citizen

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