Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a term used to refer to a number of past and present fraternal organizations in the United States that have advocated white supremacy. It was founded by veterans of the Confederate Army in 1866. In its original incarnation, the Ku Klux Klan sought to reestablish Democratic power in the South, and opposed the reforms enforced on the South by federal troops regarding the treatment of former slaves, often using violence to achieve their goals. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, but many of its groups in other parts of the country ignored the order and continued to function.
A second distinct group using the same name was started atop Stone Mountain near Atlanta in 1915 by William J. Simmons. This second group was primaraly Republican and existed as a money-making fraternal organization and fought to maintain the ways of the past by fighting against the increasing numbers of Roman Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Asians, and other immigrants into the United States. This group, although preaching racism, was a mainstream organization with 4 million members at its peak in the 1920s. Its popularity fell during the Great Depression, and membership fell again during World War II presumably because of mass enlistment or conscription to the Armed Forces.
The name Ku Klux Klan has since fallen into the public domain. It was adopted in different forms by many different unrelated groups, including many who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and desegregation in the 1960s. Today, dozens of organizations with chapters across the United States and other countries use all or part of the name in their titles.