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Ku Klux Klan not founded by the Democratic Party

October 23, 2018

CLAIM: The Ku Klux Klan was formed by the Democratic Party.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Ku Klux Klan was not formed by the Democratic Party. 

THE FACTS: The Klan first emerged after the Civil War in an effort to intimidate Southern blacks to stay out of politics and to exploit their labor. It was created in Pulaski, Tennessee, by Confederate veterans: Frank McCord, Richard Reed, John Lester, John Kennedy, J. Calvin Jones and James Crowe. Mark Pitcavage, senior fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told The Associated Press that it was originally designed “purely for entertainment, with no political motivations.” 

Pitcavage said members engaged in social antics that grew to incorporate cruel pranks. The Klan gradually took on a political tone and by 1867 it began engaging in violent acts. According to Pitcavage, many KKK members were Democrats since the Whig Party had died out and white Southerners disliked the Republican party. He says, though, that the Klan was not started by the Democratic Party “ nor did it have ideological motives until later.”

By the 1870s the Klan had died out since white Southerners had retaken control of state governments “through their campaigns of violence and intimidation.” When a new Klan emerged in the 1910s, it attracted members from both parties, as well as members affiliated with no parties. 

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536 

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The Associated Press reviewed this story after it was surfaced to third-party fact checkers as part of an initiative with Facebook to assess the accuracy of news content.