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According to The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (1907), "Beginning in April, 1867, there was a gradual transformation ...

The members had conjured up a veritable Frankenstein. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans.

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It rapidly declined in the later half of the 1920s.

The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after World War II, in the form of localized and isolated groups that use the KKK name.

It seriously weakened the black political establishment through its use of assassinations and threats of violence; it drove some people out of politics.

On the other hand, it caused a sharp backlash, with passage of federal laws that historian Eric Foner says were a success in terms of "restoring order, reinvigorating the morale of Southern Republicans, and enabling blacks to exercise their rights as citizens"Klan declined in strength in part because of internal weaknesses; its lack of central organization and the failure of its leaders to control criminal elements and sadists.

Its official rhetoric focused on the threat of the Catholic Church, using anti-Catholicism and nativism.

The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization, with a national and state structure.In 1915, the second Klan was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.Starting in 1921, it adopted a modern business system of using full-time paid recruiters and appealed to new members as a fraternal organization, of which many examples were flourishing at the time.They have focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists.It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.Reflecting the social tensions pitting urban versus rural America, it spread to every state and was prominent in many cities.