The President Who Started the Klan

Bren Kelly
8 min readAug 16, 2023

Is History a Prelude to the Loss of Civil Rights to Come from Trump’s Trials?

I found this picture in one of the old reports, looked up Skull and Bones society at Yale I recall, since Trump, the Bushes, etc. are all white Yale male alumni in this society, and was just terrified at seeing the Wiki website embelm

Could the real leader and founder of the Klan have been the president? That is a question I directly confronted the other day when perusing through the file from the Library of Congress of some killings and lynchings in the “Great Insurrection Period.”

Formerly known as the Reconstruction Period, but since hindsight is 20–20, it was nothing but politically organized murder and terror of black and white Republicans and cheating at the polls, along with rewriting laws around elections, to insurrect democracy and ‘negro rule’, as admitted to in the trial, so the reconstruction was of white supremacy, and the name Reconstruction and vast insult to black Americans. I couldn’t help but think of the historical connection to Trump. Just as I had finished some research, sick while on vacation, I looked at a notice pop up on my phone: Trump indicted in Georgia. Seven minutes ago. Weird timing.


I had stumbled across this document in research of some Southern states in the post-Civil War period that last up until 1900. In North Carolina I was reviewing what Republican Governor Holden (back then Republican is liberal, Conservative is Democrat) wrote and did to repress the Klan and stop the violence in 1869–1870. He collected notes and files, and wrote to judges and the President, U.S. Grant, to repress the uprising of the Klan. Then I scanned through the trial in the last 200 pages for good measure having already gotten ample evidence, as I didn’t want to get bogged down.

But I did. Because that’s when I found it. It was in the criminal trial notes. Not just once, but repeatedly. Among the witnesses/defendants were a doctor and a lawyer. Here’s one exchange:

Mr. M. (prosecutor) “Did that embrace the whole Union, or North Carolina?”

Witness: “I think it wasn’t all over the Union. My understanding about it was that Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, was the founder of the secret, and was the head of it.”

Did you spot the reference there to head of the Klan and white supremacist movement? Like I said, there were other defendants, forced to bear witness in exchange, it seemed, for leniency or immunity.



Bren Kelly

Engaged in new Ideas and old Inequalities, dismantling the system in systemic, born on the 50th Anniversary of Women's Lib Day, still seeking injustices.