The NRA and the KKK—Do we get the history straight?

By Al Benson Jr.

Awhile back someone sent me so information about how the National Rifle Association was started up so the Union army generals that founded it could arm ex-slaves in the South so they could fend off attacks by the Ku Klux Klan. I checked the information out and couldn’t find anything to substantiate it. It seems that the information came from a conservative Internet commentator. I heard nothing more about it until last week when someone from Texas contacted me informing me that this same commentator was again saying the same thing. And supposedly he now named Albert Pike as the founder of the KKK and took the trouble to mention that Albert Pike was a Confederate general. I don’t know if this was supposed to be guilt by association or not, but out of curiosity, I did just a little checking on General Pike.

I’ve got a set of books called The Confederate General in six volumes, published by the National Historical Society and Albert Pike is noted in Volume 5. Seems General Pike had a rather colorful career. He was not noted as a man that got along with other Confederate commanders in the Trans-Mississippi area. The book noted: “A bitter feud with Brigadier General Thomas C. Hindman resulted in Pike’s resignation on July 12, 1862. But Pike was not finished; he wrote a circular accusing the Confederate government of treating the Indians unfairly. Colonel Douglas Cooper called the document the work of someone who was either ‘insane or a traitor.’” Cooper regarded Pike as “partially deranged, and a dangerous person.” The Confederate government accepted his resignation in November of 1862. The point here being that he wasn’t a Confederate general all that long, about a year and a half or so. Stewart Sifakis in his book Who Was Who in the Civil War says about the same thing. No mention of Pike having had anything to do with the KKK. I also came across another book in my library, Hooded Americanism by David M. Chalmers, which is a history of the KKK. No mention of Albert Pike that I can find in that one either. So, as much as I might disagree with ex-General Pike’s worldview, I don’t see him as the founder of the KKK.

Nor do I see the NRA as having been founded to help Southern blacks defend themselves against whites during “reconstruction.” I came across an article on http://www.patheos.com by Warren Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania that was published on 1/17/13 where Professor Throckmorton noted several incorrect quotes from David Barton regarding the NRA. He noted one of Barton’s quotes: “In addition, Barton addressed the founding of the NRA. While some like to demonize (this) pro-Second Amendment group and even call it prejudiced, it turns out the powerful group was in fact started by two Union generals in 1871 as a means to driving out the Ku Klux Klan and ensuring that blacks, who although then-free were not allowed the means with which to defend themselves—could in fact legally own a gun.” In a video Barton came up with a story that the NRA rose up because the Southern leaders were not policing the KKK. Sounds so noble, but you have to remember that in 1871 the South was still under “reconstruction.” The “Southern leaders” had almost nothing to say about what went on in their states—the Yankee military took care of all that. Whites in the South had been disenfranchised. In effect, they had no rights. This was one of the reasons for the KKK to begin with.

Throckmorton has observed, and quite correctly I think, that: “If Barton’s claim was true, this would be admirable and perhaps improve the image of NRA. One would think the NRA would include this fact on their website, as (Glenn) Beck wondered. However, they do not.” He then goes on to give a brief history of the NRA, which was granted a charter by the state of New York in 1871 and they purchased a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, for the purpose of building a rifle range.

And Throckmorton duly notes that, in the NRA’s history: “…there is nothing there about the KKK or getting guns in the hands of newly freed slaves. The reason the NRA doesn’t include (this) is probably because there is no evidence for it. At least I can’t find any evidence in the early charter of the NRA, or the biographies of the founders…I have looked through early NRA annual reports, biographies of the founders, and other documents looking for any support of Barton’s claim. Any reference to the claim on the web is unsourced. If Barton has a source for his claim, he should bring it up.”

In regard to arming the blacks, maybe Barton should go back and read Claude Bowers’ book The Tragic Era, originally published in 1929. Bowers, a Northerner, wrote about “reconstruction” policies on a state-by-state basis and noted all that the Yankee/Marxist “reconstruction” governments did in each Southern state. And this included the arming of black “militias” to serve the “reconstruction” governors in each Southern state. Bowers goes into how these black militias often went far beyond their “reconstruction” responsibilities, to the point where white women were often afraid to be out on the streets in many Southern locales even during the day.

This was one reason for the first Ku Klux Klan. Metapedia has noted that “The first Klan originated during 1866 as a guerilla band of former Confederates following the American Civil War. The ‘Radical Republicans’ during Reconstruction had attempted to undermine European American hegemony in the South.” That’s a fancy way of saying that they were practicing Cultural Genocide on white Southerners…”The first Ku Klux Klan was an American secret organization of Southern whites united for self-protection…” And that’s what the first Klan was all about—self-protection for them and their families. It was in essence, a self-defense organization. Now the Klans that came after that, starting in the early 1900s were a whole different animal, but the first and original Klan was formed for the protection of kith and kin.

I expect that may bother some folks who just lump all the various KKK groups into one mass conglomeration, but the Metapedia article divides the Klans into five different eras and the first one is the one I am writing about here. The others were something else.

With all the I read on the Internet doing historical research, I come across material such as that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It seems there are some “conservatives” out there, whether through ignorance or design, that seek to make the South look evil and bad. You might excuse it once because we all make mistakes. But when it keeps happening you have to start to wonder if it’s all just coincidence—and with my suspicious mind, I rather doubt that.

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7 thoughts on “The NRA and the KKK—Do we get the history straight?

  1. Al, I’m not a big fan of Barton for that very reason. Maybe I’m unpatriotic, but he seems to make every thing the Federal government ever did into a act of Christian Charity, as though America was God’s new chosen people . We have been a “Godly ” nation some times , but no where near the legendary accounts Barton writes of. I consider him a Federal Government apologist !

  2. This paragraph: [The “Southern leaders” had almost nothing to say about what went on in their states—the Yankee military took care of all that. Whites in the South had been disenfranchised. In effect, they had no rights. This was one of the reasons for the KKK to begin with.] Leaves me to believe that you actually agree with that analogy that because they were disenfranchised after the war, they had reason to continue killing Black people as they did on a regular basis, because there was no other policing going on other than the Yankees? Doesn’t that sound disingenuous! How barbaric to kill, until you are stopped by force!

    • You make it sound like Southern whites spent all their waking hours just killing off black folks and that sounds a bit disingenuous to me. You had a problem with “reconstruction:” governors hiring black militias that were going around, armed, making life hard on ordinary white folks and making it so the streets were not safe for white women to be out on. While all the black militias were not like that, many were–enough so that men were concerned for the safety of their wives and daughters if they had to go out. This kind of behavior promted organizations like the Klan to form just to protect their womenfolks. While I don’t expect you will accept this, that’s how it was. And the Yankee governors were doing nothing to alleviate the situation, in fact in some cases their silence aided and abetted it.

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