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PO1 William "Chip" Nagel
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CPL LaForest Gray
CPL LaForest Gray
9 mo

Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871,

“An Act to enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other Purposes”
Congress | April 20, 1871

SOURCE : https://constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/historic-document-library/detail/ku-klux-klan-act-of-1871-april-20-1871-an-act-to-enforce-the-provisions-of-the-fourteenth-amendment-to-the-constitution-of-the-united-states-and-for-other-purposes

2.) The Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871

The adoption of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution extended civil and legal protections to former slaves and prohibited states from disenfranchising voters “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Forces in some states were at work, however, to deny black citizens their legal rights. Members of the Ku Klux Klan, for example, terrorized black citizens for exercising their right to vote, running for public office, and serving on juries.

In response, Congress passed a series of Enforcement Acts in 1870 and 1871 (also known as the Force Acts) to end such violence and empower the president to use military force to protect African Americans.

In its first effort to counteract such use of violence and intimidation, Congress passed the Enforcement Act of May 1870, which prohibited groups of people from banding together "or to go in disguise upon the public highways, or upon the premises of another" with the intention of violating citizens’ constitutional rights.

Even this legislation did not diminish harassment of black voters in some areas.

SOURCE : https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/EnforcementActs.htm

3.) Historical Highlights
The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871
April 20, 1871

On this date, the House approved “An Act to enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other Purposes,” also known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act.” Introduced as H.R. 320 on March 28, 1871, by Representative Samuel Shellabarger of Ohio, the bill passed the House on April 6 and returned from the Senate with amendments on April 14. After nearly a week of heated debate in the House and the Senate, the chambers reconciled their differences on April 20 when the House agreed to the conference report on H.R. 320 and the Senate concurred. The Ku Klux Klan Act, the third in a series of increasingly stringent Enforcement Acts, was designed to empower the federal government to protect the civil and political rights of individuals. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, defined citizenship and guaranteed due process and equal protection of the law to all, including four million formerly enslaved Black men and women. Vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan, however, freely threatened African Americans and their White allies in the South and undermined the Republican Party’s plan for Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan Act made it a federal crime to deny any group or individual “any of the rights, privileges, or immunities, or protection, named in the Constitution.” To enforce the law, the President could suspend habeas corpus, deploy the U.S. military, or use “other means, as he may deem necessary.” Opponents denounced the bill as an unconstitutional attack on state governments and individual liberty. Administration supporter William E. Lansing of New York rejected the “mischievous doctrine of State sovereignty,” citing widespread “acts of outrage and violence . . . which the States where they occur have either no power or will to prevent.” David P. Lowe of Kansas stressed that the legislation fulfilled the Fourteenth Amendment's promise of equal protection under the law. “Let the different classes of our populations feel that the interest and welfare of one is the interest and welfare of all.” After both chambers of Congress agreed to the conference report on April 20, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law later that day. Nearly six months later, in October 1871, Grant used these powers in several South Carolina counties, demonstrating the willingness of the Republican-led federal government to take decisive action to protect the civil and political rights of the freed people during Reconstruction.

SOURCE : https://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1851-1900/hh_1871_04_20_KKK_Act/
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