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as a fraternal social club inspired at least in part by the then largely defunct Sons of Malta.

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.

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.For instance, the Red Shirts are credited with helping elect Wade Hampton as governor in South Carolina.They were described as acting as the military arm of the Democratic Party and are attributed with helping white Democrats regain control of state legislatures throughout the South.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.This second organization adopted a standard white costume and used code words which were similar to those used by the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades to intimidate others.

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