The Civil Rights Museum
137 years ago today:
April 20, 1871
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1871, a.k.a. the Ku Klux Klan Act. The Klan had formed in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War to keep the freed slaves down, and many of the recently repatriated Southern states had governments that were sympathetic to the Klan’s campaign of terror and violence. When, in 1870, the Republican governor of North Carolina, William Woods Holden, tried to call out the state militia to fight the Klan, he was impeached. The Klan Act made it possible to use federal troops to enforce the law and to prosecute Klansmen in federal courts. And it worked. Many Klansmen were imprisoned, and the Klan was effectively neutralized, not re-emerging as a major force until 1915. However, the civil rights gains of the former slaves were short-lived. Within a few years Southern Democrats had regained control of their states, and in 1877 President Rutherford Hayes withdrew federal troops from the former Confederacy, ending Reconstruction and leaving the freedmen on their own.
Be sure to click on the picture above to visit the museum and learn more about the various civil rights acts.
From Today in Political History on Newsweek.com