The events which led up to the crisis and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan are undoubtedly historical, but they bear a curious analogy to the Hung legend of the two virtuous women who, in order to avoid being violated by the Imperial soldiers, flung themselves into the river and were drowned. In the American incident a white girl, pursued by a drunken negro, ran up a bluff and finding all means of escape cut off by a precipice flung herself from the top and was smashed to pieces. Her father and brothers found her mangled corpse and, dipping their hands in her blood, bound themselves by an oath to avenge not only her wrongs, but those of all white women, and never to rest until they had driven the negroes from power and the “Carpet baggers” out of the Southern States. The Society grew by leaps and bounds. The women would sit all day making the curious regalia of the Ku Klux Klan, which consisted of a white robe and a peaked cap, with a veil which covered the face, except that there were
114 THE HUNG SOCIETY. holes for the eyes. Thus disguised, the white men would ride out night after night to avenge their wrongs and administer swift justice for any offence committed by negroes. It was practically civil war between the Ku Klux Klan and the Negro Government; a war of vengeance, in which no mercy was shown on either side. Outrage was followed by counter-outrage: innocent negroes perished with the gu ilty: but the Society grew, and just before its final triumph the Ku Klux Klan could put into the field 300,000 men. At length the Society so terrorised the negroes that the “carpet-baggers’’ fled back to the North, the negro officials retired from office, the State legislatures were every where purged of negroes and when fresh elections were held the white men, with rifles in their hands, simply prevented negro electors from going to the polls. The white men having recovered power, law and order were gradually re established, and the necessity which caused the formation of the Society having passed away the Ku Klux Klan gradually died out.