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It seriously weakened the black political establishment through its use of assassinations and threats of violence; it drove some people out of politics.

On the other hand, it caused a sharp backlash, with passage of federal laws that historian Eric Foner says were a success in terms of "restoring order, reinvigorating the morale of Southern Republicans, and enabling blacks to exercise their rights as citizens"Klan declined in strength in part because of internal weaknesses; its lack of central organization and the failure of its leaders to control criminal elements and sadists.

They have focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists.

It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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.

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.

During the resurgence of the second Klan during the 1920s, its publicity was handled by the Southern Publicity Association—within the first six months of the Associations national recruitment campaign, Klan membership had increased by 85,000.

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.The national headquarters made its profit through a monopoly of costume sales, while the organizers were paid through initiation fees.It grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity.According to The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (1907), "Beginning in April, 1867, there was a gradual transformation ...The members had conjured up a veritable Frankenstein. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans.The second group was founded in the South in 1915 and it flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, including urban areas of the Midwest and West.