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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".

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.

Taking inspiration from the film Birth of a Nation, which mythologized the founding of the first Klan, it employed marketing techniques and a popular fraternal organization structure.Rooted in local Protestant communities, it sought to maintain white supremacy, often took a pro-prohibition stance, and it opposed Catholics and Jews, while also stressing its opposition to the Catholic Church at a time of high immigration from the mostly Catholic nations of Central Europe and Southern Europe.This second organization adopted a standard white costume and used code words which were similar to those used by the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades to intimidate others.They were described as acting as the military arm of the Democratic Party and are attributed with helping white Democrats regain control of state legislatures throughout the South.In 1915, the second Klan was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.

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