E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
(18641876.) A secret society in the Southern States of America against the negro class, to intimidate, flog, mutilate, or murder those who opposed the laws of the society. In Tennessee one murder a day was committed, and if anyone attempted to bring the murderers to justice he was a marked man, and sure to be mutilated or killed. In fact, the Ku-Klux-Klan was formed on the model of the Molly Maguires and Moon-lighters of Ireland. Between November, 1864, and March, 1865, the number of cases of personal violence was 400 (Greek, kuklos, a circle.)