The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out … The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings Three events in 1915 = catalysts to the revival of the Klan:
* The film The Birth of a Nation was released, mythologizing and glorifying the first Klan. In 1915 Jewish businessman Leo Frank was lynched near Atlanta after the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Frank had been convicted in 1913 and sentenced to death for the murder of a young white factory worker named Mary Phagan
* The second Ku Klux Klan – founded in 1915 by William J. Simmons at Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta. Its growth was based on a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionist and antisemitic agenda. Most of the founders were from a small Atlanta-area organization called the Knights of Mary Phagan, who had organized around Leo Frank’s trial.
The new organization and chapters adopted regalia featured in The Birth of a Nation. Much of the Klan’s energy went to guarding “the home;” – historian Kathleen Bleeits said its members wanted to protect “the interests of white womanhood’’ The Klan moved beyond just targeting blacks, and broadened its message of hate to include Catholics, Jews and foreigners. The Klan promoted fundamentalism and devout patriotism along with advocating white supremacy. They blasted bootleggers, motion pictures and espoused a return to “clean” living