We know that John C. Breckinridge was a United States congressman, senator and vice president. We also know that he was a Confederate major general and served as secretary of war for the Confederacy. But did you know what he said about white supremacists after the Civil War?
In his biography of Breckinridge, William C. Davis describes that after Breckinridge returned to Lexington following the Civil War, he denounced the Ku Klux Klan as despicable banditti, “idiots or villains.” He, then, offered his assistance in attempts to arrest them and bring them to justice. Abolitionist Cassius M. Clay believed Breckinridge’s support was decisive. “He denounced and effectively killed in Kentucky, at least, the remorseless ‘Ku-Klux-Klan.’” Breckinridge’s opposition was a large factor in discrediting the KKK in the eyes of thousands of Kentuckians in the 1870s.
So, in 2017, the Klan is still vilified by Kentuckians — a process begun by John C. Breckinridge in 1870.