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The first Klan had mixed results in terms of achieving its objectives.

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

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.

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The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after 1950, in the form of localized and isolated groups that use the KKK name.

They have focused on opposition to the civil rights movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists.

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.

Internal divisions, criminal behavior by leaders, and external opposition brought about a collapse in membership, which had dropped to about 30,000 by 1930. The "Ku Klux Klan" name was used by numerous independent local groups opposing the civil rights movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.

It grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity.

Reflecting the social tensions pitting urban versus rural America, it spread to every state and was prominent in many cities.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.More fundamentally, it declined because it failed to achieve its central objective – the overthrow of Republican state governments in the South.With numerous autonomous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal law enforcement.Members made their own, often colorful, costumes: robes, masks and conical hats, designed to be terrifying and to hide their identities. Griffith's 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation, which mythologized the founding of the first Klan, it employed marketing techniques and a popular fraternal organization structure.The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s.

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