It was Christmas of 1865. a group of wealthy southerners had met to protect the southern way of life. Reconstruction and other economic problems wrought upon them by the north were causing the deterioration they perceived around them. Add to this the industrial advantages that the north already enjoyed, and these men felt as if their lives and livelihoods were being quickly eroded.
They decided to create a secret society to stem the tide of change that was rolling over them. They took the word Kuklos (from the Greek meaning "Circle".) and the word Clan (from their largely Scottish ancestry) and created the Ku Klux Klan.
The white sheets came about as a bit of a joke really. The idea was to scare the bejeezus out of the local coloreds (who had recently been given the right to vote.) The sheets which were to become the uniform in the days to come was an attempt to make the black folks think that the ghosts of the confederate dead were rising up against them. it worked. And it became standard operating procedure when raiding the black part of town to dress the part.
For the most part these terror tactics would have been relatively harmless if not for the advent of a new leader in their midst. Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forest began a campaign of ruthless destruction. This included hanging blacks who dared to use their right to vote and by harassing southern politicians who showed any pro-northern leanings. Occasionally this involved beatings and blackmail. Some Klan Members also appointed themselves moral watchdogs in their communities. To many white southerners, The Klan were heroes.
In 1871, The Klan was dealt something of a 1-2 punch by the federal government. Congress passed a series of strict laws designed to combat Klan tactics. federal soldiers broke up rallies, meetings and arrested Klansmen en masse. Congress also cut off their local political support by giving southern states many of their political rights back. Local politicians seeing which way the wind was blowing, began to disassociate themselves from the Klan. and without outside political oppression the Klan mandate kind of collapsed. With Federals arresting them like it was going out of style they began to flounder, and finally the Klan simply faded away for 40 years.
It was until the dawn of the movie age that the Klan began to see a revival. D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation brought the Klan back to public attention and it wasn't long before someone decided to revive them in 1915
That someone was "Colonel" William Simmons. A Methodist minister from Atlanta and a Freemason. No stranger to secret societies, he organized the new Klan along Masonic lodge lines and created a secret language called "Klonversation". He did everything but pass out secret decoder rings.
Another idea that the Colonel came up with was paying a member for each person that he also managed to initiate into the Klan itself. While this made the Klan into a sophisticated Ponzi Scheme. it also caused the membership rolls to swell to an estimated 4 million members in 1920
The Klan is now at the peak of their power. Financially, politically, They have real muscle in the southern part of the country and in a few other places as well. As like as not you won't see them coming until they burn a cross on your lawn...
Klan agendas can vary from place to place. All Klan lodges are dead set against the accumulation of any kind of power by people of color. They also oppose Jews and Catholics on religious grounds. Beyond this though they may have different sorts of agendas that are part of their local region. Some Lodges might seek political leverage, others might be more interested in rooting out political and moral corruption in their community. Some might be trying to lure business interests to their region. Some lodges might even be more or less a benign force in their community aside from their racist rhetoric.
Southerners, both rich and poor pay their Klan dues. As such, the Klan could be a real potent force financially. Politicians are occasionally bought and some, of course, are members. it might be daunting to players to discover that everybody in a particular town owes their position to the Klan. It might be leaning into the stereotype, but it also bears mentioning that damn near every Klan member owns a gun and can probably raise a small army with only a single days notice. Rich members of the Klan will tend to have high resoucres and a wide arena of followers and contacts. Poor members might be blessed with an amount fo backing,cipher and Menagerie ( Hunting dogs and horses are most likely.)
If you aren't a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, they don't want to know you. Women's Auxiliary groups for local lodges are a recent innovation. This is not to say that the heavily matriarchal southern society doesn't play a role in shaping Klan policy but it does so from the periphery, through the wives of members. In the Adventure Age, The Klan is at it's highest numbers in history.
Depending on the nature of the lodge in question, the ongoing operations could be as low key as putting the "right" men in office and helping white businessmen in their various endeavors. or as overt as promulgating a full on race war.
At this point in history the Klan has yet to make any real serious alliances. And since most of the Agent of Change that serve Infamous individuals are headed by foreigners, communists, and other freaks Well...the Klan stands mostly aloof.
The Federal government dislikes anybody cutting in on their action and so you might see the occasional Branch 9 agent infiltrating them. Baron Saturday has taken a special dislike to them and enjoys "Peeling" at least 1 important Klan member when he comes to New Orleans.
Some of the more extreme forms of Stalwart Inspiration might preclude a person from being able to maintain a low profile in the Klan. While many different types of Inspiration can be chalked up to "racial superiority" Hefting a car or shrugging off bullets is going cause comment and inspire fear among the others.
Conversely, most forms of mesmerist knacks can be chalked up to a particularly "Charismatic" personality or even the occasional "Miracle." ( I.E. a Cross that lights itself at a particularly dramatic moment.) Those Mesmerists who find themselves in the Klan usually rise to high places of power from the work of their fanatically loyal underlings. This is not suggest that Klan hierarchy is riddled with potent Mesmerists but those few who are there, are well placed and share an understanding with one another.
Daredevils are probably the most common type of Inspired person that a PC will encounter. If there is one major thing that the Klan lacks, it is any real Superscientific resources to speak of. (Rational Experimentation Group refuses to have anything to do with them for obvious reasons.)
From this point in history on, The Klan begins to lose a lot of it's steam. It's certainly possible that the Inspired might have a hand in this fall from power. As the years wear on, the country simply goes in another direction from the Klan. Which makes connections with the Nazi party and other racist groups. In later years, they even begin to soften their rhetoric in order to try to attract new members. They eschew the label of "Hate Group" in favor of "Love Group" (as in the love White people so much that they think they should be the only kind.
Additional Notes: Hopefully, this little collection of story ideas will be enough to get you moving along the path. Klansmen are good villains in the same way that Nazis and Ninjas are. crunch all you want. We'll make more! Since i cannot possibly do justice to the monstrously poisonous mindset that spawns such things as the Klan you might take a look at a few KKK websites below. Just wash your hand afterwards. Sometimes the culture shock of these things is valuable to see that there are still a whole bunch of people who believe this shit.