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Intimidating Former Slaves
Digital History ID 3682


Annotation: By 1868, a variety of armed groups, wearing disguises, had emerged in Texas to intimidate former slaves. In addition to burning crops and stealing horses, these groups assaulted and even murdered blacks. Between October 1868 and September 1869 military courts in Texas heard 59 cases involving intimidation of blacks and returned 29 convictions. In 1871, the Texas legislature made it a crime to be armed while wearing a disguise. Also in 1871, after the U.S. Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, permitting the president of the United States to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cases involving secret organizations engaged in intimidation, these various groups formally disbanded.

Document: [Questions to be asked at an initiation ceremony]

1. –Do you belong to the White race? Ans. –I do. 2. –Did you ever marry any woman who did not, or does not, belong to the White race? Ans. –No. 3. –Do you promise never to marry any woman but one who belongs to the White race? Ans. –I do. 4. –Do you believe in the superiority of your race? Ans. –I do. 5. –Will you promise never to vote for any one, for any office of honor, profit or trust, who does not belong to your race? Ans. –I do.

7. –Are you opposed to allowing the control of the political affairs of this country to go, in whole or in part, into the hands of the negro or African race, and will you do everything in your power to prevent it? Ans. –Yes.

Source: “Ritual or Rules of Proceedings for the Initiation of Candidates” [Knights of the Golden Circle] June 4, 1868

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