Donald Campbell to Pease, August 25, 1868
The Ku Klux Klan was founded in in Pulaski, Tennessee in late 1865 and early 1866 by six young Confederate veterans. Its name was derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle or band, with "klan" added for alliteration. The Klan's founders devised an elaborate set of secret rituals based on those of an antebellum college fraternity. As it spread through the South, the Klan quickly became associated with vigilantism, opposition to Republican rule, and white supremacy.
The Klan had no organization, but spread through word-of-mouth, often going by different names. By March 1868, Klan activity was noted in Texas, with groups going by names such as the the Knights of the Rising Sun and the Knights of the White Camellia. By May 1868, the first Klan murders of freedmen and Republicans were known to have taken place.
Northeast Texas was the center of Klan activity. This letter from Marion County chief justice Donald Campbell (later lieutenant governor) tells of Klan activity in Jefferson and threats against Lieutenant George W. Smith, the leader of the local Republicans. In October 1869 Smith and two freedmen would be murdered by a Klan mob. Military efforts to bring their killers to justice resulted in a notorious trial known as the Stockade Case, in which most of the defendants were acquitted.
Thanks to federal intervention and a growing revulsion among white Texans, the Klan died out in the late 1870s, only to see a strong revival in the 1920s.
Jefferson Tuesday Aug 25
Hon. E.M. Pease
My Dear Sir --
The excitiment was much higher
Donald Campbell to Pease, August 25, 1868, Records of Elisha Marshall Pease, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.