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KU-KLUXISM
Harper's Weekly, December 19, 1868, page 813-814 (Illustrated Article)
When Senator Sumner made his celebrated argument in Congress over ten years ago, insisting upon the "barbarism of slavery," his oration was denounced as declamatory and extravagant. But scarcely had the voice of the orator ceased to echo in the chamber where it was uttered before the full evidence of its bitter truth was furnished by the cowardly assault of a South Carolina Congressman upon his person. The rebellion which soon followed convinced the North that even the Senator from Massachusetts had not adequately appreciated the barbarism which he denounced; for suddenly elements were evolved from the peculiar civilization of the slaveholding States which threatened and actually attempted the disruption and ruin of the country. The war itself, and considered apart from its original cause, afforded in its successive stage accumulative evidence of the barbarism generated by a system of legalized injustice. The scalping of our dead soldiers upon the battle-field of Pea Ridge by the savage allies of the Confederacy; the inhuman butchery of national negro soldiers at Fort Pillow; the denial of the common courtesies of war to our captured negro soldiers by an attempt to make the axioms of slavery as potent on the battle-field as on the plantation; and the barbarities inflicted upon or brave youth at Belle Isle, Andersonville, Salisbury, and Millen—all these enormities illustrated the depravity possible even to a Christian community which adopts and persistently cherishes a monstrous wrong.

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All this we should willingly leave to the historian but for the unfortunate development of the same barbarism since the close of the war. The confession of defeat does not prove the annihilation of wrong. The very first attempt made by the Southern Legislatures, assembled under President Johnson’s provisional governments, was to revive a system of partial slavery by a continuance of the old slave code. That attempt was baffled by the passage of the Civil Rights Bill. Disappointed here, the Southern Legislatures attempted, through the defeat of the Fourteenth Amendment, to retain for the whites of the South the disproportionate representation which slavery had given the, while denying suffrage to the colored race. Here again they were thwarted by the establishment over them of a military government.

Then it was that the Ku-Klux organization sprang into being. The object of this secret society was the accomplishment by intimidation and murder of that which open war first and unjust legislation afterward had failed to secure. The logic of the new order was that of the old "Regulators" under the slave system; it was the argument of the New Orleans riot. It has been only too successful in its operations; its members, in ceremonial disguise, wearing sepulchral masks, and courting the aid of darkness, have murdered without stint, and where they have not murdered they have used intimidation. They have been aided by the proscription of Union men, and by the denial of labor to negroes who refused to vote the Democratic ticket. The result of these violent means of exercising political power are plainly evident in the late election returns of the Southern States. But, for all that, the Ku-Klux organization has failed.

Our illustration is engraved from a photograph, representing two members of the Ku-Klux order captured in a recent riot at Huntsville, Alabama. Judge Thurlow and another person were killed in this riot. It is represented that in that vicinity there are over 400 members of this secret society.

One of the most important of the advantages gained for freedom by the election of General Grant is the certain defeat of political violence in the South. But the evil can only be completely eradicated by the co-operation of Southern citizens, and by efforts on their part to advance educational interest, and to diffuse Christianizing and humanizing influences, throughout the territory so long blasted by the curse of slavery.

Harper's Weekly, December 19, 1868, page 813-814 (Illustrated Article)
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