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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.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.They had played with an engine of power and mystery, though organized on entirely innocent lines, and found themselves overcome by a belief that something must lie behind it all—that there was, after all, a serious purpose, a work for the Klan to do." Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement promoting resistance and white supremacy during the Reconstruction Era. In 18, the federal government passed the Enforcement Acts, which were intended to prosecute and suppress Klan crimes.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.It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders.With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal law enforcement.It borrowed parts of the initiation ceremony from that group, with the same purpose: "ludicrous initiations, the baffling of public curiosity, and the amusement for members were the only objects of the Klan", according to Albert Stevens in 1907.According to The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (1907), "Beginning in April, 1867, there was a gradual transformation ...It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.