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The Klan's uncivil war

The white counter-revolution and its uses of terror reversed the Clauswitzian doctrine: In America, too much of the political process of Reconstruction became war by other means. By whippings, rapes, the burning of houses, schools and churches, the violent disruption or intimidation of local Republican party meetings, and hundreds of murders and lynchings over a period of less than a decade the Klan and its minions (called variously “Red Shirts” or “white leaguers” and many other names) sought to win back as much of a status quo antebellum as they could achieve. Their victims were teachers, black students, white and black politicians, and uncounted numbers of freedmen and their families who participated in politics or gained some economic autonomy. The record of Reconstruction violence has been clinically detailed, but it is a piece of history that most Americans still prefer to avoid.