The Origin and Development of the Ku Klux Clan, Convention Meets
The following data is extracted from Trinity College Historical Society .
The convention met and adopted a plan of organization, which, but for one source of weakness, made this "one of the most perfectly organized orders that ever existed in the world."
The whole territory covered by the Clan was called the "Invisible Empire." This was divided into "realms," corresponding to the States. The realms were divided into "dominions" coterminous with the counties, and the dominions into “dens. " Officers were assigned to each department, and, except the supreme officer, their duties were minutely specified. These officers were as follows ''The Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire and his ten Genii; the Grand Dragon of the Realm and his eight Hydras; the Grand Titan of the Dominion and his six Furies; the Grand Cyclops of the Den and his two Night Hawks; a Grand Monk; a Grand Scribe; a Grand Exchequer; a Grand: Turk and a Grand Sentinel."
The most important action taken by the Nashville convention was the declaration of the principles of the order, which was as follows: '' We recognize our relations to the United States government; the supremacy of the constitution; the constitutional laws thereof; and the union of the States thereunder." If these men were banded together for the overthrow of all law and government, this is indeed a strange declaration, for it was not meant for general circulation or for its effect. We must accept it as a declaration of their political relations to the government of the land.
This convention also defined the objects of the order, which were as follows
(1.) ''To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless, from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the violent and the brutal; to relieve the injured and the oppressed; to succor the suffering, and especially the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers.
(2.) "To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the states and people thereof from all invasion from any source whatever.
(3.) "To aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws, and to protect the people from unlawful seizure, and from trial except by their peers in conformity to the laws of the land."
This last declaration was the result of the infamous legislation and the more infamous execution of law in the South during that period. Those familiar with the history of our state will acknowledge the great need for some such organization, with just such purpose as the above, during the days when Kirk and his men were part of the executive department of the State. Whatever history may say, the Ku Klux was almost a necessity at the South during the reconstruction for the protection of life, liberty and the rights of prosperity.
As before stated the main object of the Nashville convention was to secure a better control of their own members, so as to prevent outrages credited, whether rightly or not, to the Ku Klux.
Their great object now was to carry out their role of Regulators within the limits of law and order. Their methods were to remain the same. Secrecy and mystery were to be the instruments for securing law and order among the lawless and the ignorant. Steps were taken to deepen the powerful impressions already made on the public. Every device was used to play upon the fears of the superstitious.
Therefore the Grand Dragon of the State of Tennessee sent out an order to the chief officers of the 'provinces' for a general parade in the streets of the chief town in each province on the night of July 4, 1867. (The account of this parade in the town of Pulaski will describe them all.)
On the morning of the appointed day, July 4, 1867, the citizens of Pulaski found slips of paper scattered along their sidewalks with the following words printed on them: "The Ku Klux will parade the streets to-eight." This announcement created the wildest excitement. The long pent-up curiosity of the people was to be satisfied. They would, at least, find out who the Ku Klux were. Many people came in from the country to witness the parade. The Ku Klux also started to the town. Having carefully concealed their paraphernalia, they traveled in squads of three or four, and, if questioned, they answered that they were going to Pulaski to see the parade. After dark they assembled, by previous agreement, at four points near the four main roads leading into the town, and put on their disguises and robes. Their horses were also disguised in flashy colored cloth. A skyrocket sent up was the signal to move. "The different companies met and passed each other in the public square in perfect silence; the discipline appeared perfect. Not a word was spoken. Orders were given by means of the whistles. In single-file, in death-like stillness, with funeral slowness they marched and counter marched throughout the town." By marching in unbroken circles up one street and down another they created the impression of vast numbers. This was kept up for two hours, and the Kit Klux departed as silently as they came, "The public were more mystified than ever, curiosity had not been satisfied." It had found out absolutely nothing.
One of the principal illusions growing out of this parade was the impression of numbers. The coolest judgments placed it at three thousand, while some went up to tee thousand; when in fact there were only four hundred men in this parade. This has been a common mistake. Gen. Forest before the investigating committee, placed the number of Ku Klux in the South at 650,000, which must be a mistake, as it is hardly probable that the whole male population of the South were Ku Klux, or that a majority of them knew anything about the order, except from common report.
Some of the devices resorted to by the Ku Klux for terrifying the Negroes and others were unique.
Source: Trinity College Historical Society