History of Terrorism Part 6: White Terrorism in the South

JB Shreve
January 22, 2018 3 mins to read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This 2 part podcast episode looks at White Terrorism in the south after the Civil War. Be prepared for a look at a shameful American history you have probably never heard or considered. America’s part in the history of terrorism did not start at 9/11. It started in the 19th century and it helps explain a lot of the domestic issues today.

When we think of terrorism today we frequently think of Muslim Arabs or Boko Haram. That is simply our modern image. For black Americans living in the south after the Civil War terrorism took the form of white Christian men dressed as the ghost of Confederate soldiers and riding through the dark nights of the south with the deliberate intent of terrorizing former slaves.

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If you enjoyed this podcast episode check out the complete series on the History of Terrorism.

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The History of Terrorism series tells the story of how terrorism developed from the ancient world to ISIS.


Episode 176: White Terrorism in the South

You can download parts 1 and 2 of this episode at my Patreon. 

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We will look at the historical context of White Terrorism in the South and America’s seedbed of racism. The time of reconstruction following the Civil War was meant to be a time of healing and correcting a lot of these past mistakes. Instead, it gave rise to new forms of discrimination and of course new shapes of terrorism.

These episodes look at the rise and origins of the Klux Klux Klan (KKK) but that is only the most famous of these terrorist groups. Additional white terrorist groups we will look at include the Knights of the White Camelia, the Red Shirts, and the White League. All of these groups together, without central coordination, worked to erase the gains given to the freed black slaves during reconstruction. They also fostered a culture of racism and oppression that would dominate the south for at least the next hundred years.

  • Who were the Red Shirts: They were a white power and terrorist organization that arose in the final years of reconstruction to suppress freed black men. Their red shirts signified the blood of the Confederacy.
  • Who were the Knights of the White Camelia: They were sometimes associated with the KKK and worked to suppress freed blacks and elevate white power.
  • Who was the White League: They were an armed white terrorist organization in the 1870s designed specifically to stop freed blacks from voting.

Features of this period of white terrorism in the south include widespread lynchings of black Americans and many other terror techniques designed and implemented specifically to strike terror and oppression into this community.


Recommended Reads:

Lynching in America – A Report from the Equal Justice Initiative

The KKK Was Dead – The First Hollywood Blockbuster Revived It

The Long History of Southern Terror

Even More Blacks Were Lynched in the US than Previously Thought

Monumental Issues – Stop Tearing Down Monuments and Start Telling the True History

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