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The American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (known simply as the Ku klux Klan before 1921) was a fraternal society founded in 1915 by William J. Simmons. Although it was presented as a continuation of the reconstruction era KKK, it had no direct links with Simmons drawing his inspiration for symbols and rituals from such sources as the movie "Birth of a Nation" and the Free Masons organisation to which he belonged.
The AKKKK drew many of its original members from a group known as the "Knights of Mary Fagan" who had been responsible for the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man found guilty of killing Mary Fagan although doubts always remained about his culpability.
The mystique and nativist message of the AKKKK proved popular amongst certain group of people as a reaction to the spread of socialism in Europe with its egualitarian and internationalist philosophy. The Knights organisation spread quickly from Georgia to other states and by the early 30s was the largest organisation of its kind. Part of its enlargement was helped by the use of Klavaliers who performed propaganda purposes.
While the rank and file were mostly poor uneducated whites, a number of more affluent members of society, including politicians, also joined either as a result of its support or to use it for their own ends. Those in politics were mostly Democrats but almost to a man, they changed their allegiance in 1940 to the AFP. The Party had been formed as a coalition of various groups, including some former rivals such as the Red Shirts and the Black Legion who had secretly pledged support to it but due to politicking and the sheer size of its membership, the AKKKK became the dominant faction to the point that after taking power, all political candidates of the AFP were expected to be members. At its peak, the AKKKK had managed to absorbed the other groups and the AFP was seen by many as little more then its political wing.
- Imperial Wizard: leader of the "Empire" (organisation), seconded by a Grand Magi (Deputy) and assisted by a council of ten genii
- Grand Dragon: leader of the "Realm" (state), assisted by a council of eight hydras
- Grand Titan: leader of the "District" (group of counties), assisted by a council of six furies
- Grand Giant: leader of the "Province" (county), assisted by a council of four Hobgoblins
- Exalted Cyclops: leader of the "Klanton" (local group), seconded by a Klalif (Deputy) and assisted by a council of two Goblins
- Ghouls: individual members
- Nighthawks: in charge of security
- Lictors: guards during meetings
- Kleagle: recruiting officer
- Kludd: religious officer
- Kligraph: secretary
- Klabee: treasurer
- Kladd: music conductor
In addition to the main organisation, the Knights sponsors a number of groups whose members, for one reason or another, do not fit the usual criteria for entry but who are considered proponents of their ideals nonetheless.
- Women of the Ku Klux Klan: Open to white, Protestant, native born American woman age above 16.
- American Krusaders: Open to white, Protestant, naturalized American citizens of foreign birth.
- Klan’s Colored Men: Open to African-American men considered trustworthy by the knights.
- Junior Ku Klux Klan: Open to white, Protestant, native born American boys age 12 to 18.
- Tri-K Girls: Open to white, Protestant, native born American girls age 12 to 18.
- Ku Klux Kiddies: Open to white, Protestant, native born American boys age 3-11