The Union League in the South was formed to establish the black man's party, and bind the negroes by secret organization to the Republican party, so they could be detached and taken entirely from under the control of the white people of the South. The "Union League is the right arm of the Union Republican party of the United States, and no man should be initiated into the league who does not heartily endorse the principles and policy of the Union Republican party." There were two divisions of the league, one for the whites and the other almost entirely for negroes, with a few whites to instruct and lead them. With few exceptions, the whites of the South were excluded. Even brigadier-generals, commanding States, entered the league for political purposes. (Swayne.) The league was surrounded by mystery, had grips and mysterious signs, and the negroes were sworn "to vote only for and for none but those who advocate and support the great principles set forth by the league to fill any office of honor, profit, or trust in either State or general government." (By-Laws of the League.) This league, in practice, taught that the white men of the South were enemies of the negroes, and it excited the latter to deeds of disorder and interference in every way with the whites. The poor negro could not withstand the strong will of the whites from the North, who were controlling him, against all advice and friendly appeal from the Southern whites. Friction, conflict, disorder between whites and blacks were incited to prolong the important and lucrative offices held by the carpetbaggers. It was the stock in trade of the Republicans in the South to keep up the vindictive and hostile legislation of Congress, and it is needless to say that members of the league had the ear of Congress.
"But there was a companion to this abominable dynasty in the dangerous order of the Ku Klux Klan. The one caused the other. The Ku Klux Klan was the perilous effect of which the odious league was the unhealthy cause. The Klan was a veritable body, founded in a holy object, and often prostituted to violence under great provocation. The writer knows all about it, and shared in its legislative work. It combined the best men of the State, old, virtuous, settled, cautious citizens. Its object was the preservation of order and the protection of society. It used mystery as its weapon. It was intended to aid the law, and prevent crime. In the license of the era, it was a matter of self-defense against plunder, assassination, and rape. Both the league and the Ku Klux Klan were excrescences of reconstruction, and the natural outcome of abnormal politics and abortive government." (Avery's History of Georgia.) The writer of this chapter never knew personally of this Klan. He saw the effect of it in a negro county of Mississippi (Noxubee), where there were ten negroes to one white person. The lawlessness and tendency to riot and override the laws of social life, became so great that a crisis appeared to be near, as shown by abusive language, disorderly meetings, and incendiary proceedings. This existed for months. One night about two hundred white men clothed in white sheets, in single file on horseback, without uttering a word, rode through the thickly-settled negro portions of the county. They appeared without warning at dark. They disappeared just before dawn. The effect was electrical. The negroes gave little more trouble in that county, notwithstanding the league and their secret organization.
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