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As of 2016, researchers estimate that there are just over 30 active Klan groups exist in the United States, A cartoon threatening that the KKK will lynch scalawags (left) and carpetbaggers (right) on March 4, 1869, the day President Grant takes office.Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Independent Monitor, September 1, 1868.With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal law enforcement.

During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama.Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964 and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.It grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity.Reflecting the social tensions pitting urban versus rural America, it spread to every state and was prominent in many cities.as a fraternal social club inspired at least in part by the then largely defunct Sons of Malta.

It borrowed parts of the initiation ceremony from that group, with the same purpose: "ludicrous initiations, the baffling of public curiosity, and the amusement for members were the only objects of the Klan", according to Albert Stevens in 1907.

commonly called the KKK or simply the Klan, is three distinct movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism, The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s.

It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders.

They had played with an engine of power and mystery, though organized on entirely innocent lines, and found themselves overcome by a belief that something must lie behind it all—that there was, after all, a serious purpose, a work for the Klan to do." Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement promoting resistance and white supremacy during the Reconstruction Era. In 18, the federal government passed the Enforcement Acts, which were intended to prosecute and suppress Klan crimes.

The first Klan had mixed results in terms of achieving its objectives.

At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men.