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An Act to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment (Ku Klux Klan Act), April 20, 1871

Findings of the Joint Committee to Inquire into the Conditions of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States prompted passage of the Ku Klux Klan Act. The act empowered the federal government to use military and legal measures against individuals or conspiracies that violated the constitutional rights of American citizens, providing the authority needed to combat the Ku Klux Klan.

General Records of the United States Government, National Archives and Records Administration

An Act to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment (Ku Klux Klan Act), April 20, 1871

The Ku Klux Klan

After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, those opposed to freedom for African Americans found other means of control. Southern states implemented restrictive laws known as Black Codes, and armed vigilantes formed the Ku Klux Klan and used violent intimidation. Several congressional committees investigated the Klan, and Congress passed the Enforcement Act of 1870 to protect freedmen against violence. A Joint Committee to Inquire into the Conditions of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States formed in 1871 and exposed the Klan’s tactics, hastening a decline that lasted until the 1920s.