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In 1865, a handful of Southern Civil War veterans founded a secret society: the Ku Klux Klan. Very quickly, the Klan instituted a reign of terror among the recently freed black population. Murders and lynching were common. In Washington, Congress launched an offensive against the invisible empire, which was officially destroyed in 1872. The Ku Klux Klan was reborn in 1915 thanks to the film The Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith. Under new leadership, it evolved to fit into an America undergoing major changes and broadened its trade in hatred. The KKK became anti-immigrant, anti-urban, anti-Communist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic. Nearly four million Americans joined what would become a highly influential mass lobbying organization. But at the end of the 1920s, scandals and the economic crisis weakened the movement, which eventually disappeared again after the Second World War.
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