Enforcement Act of 1870
|Long title||An Act to enforce the Right of Citizens of the United States to vote in the several States of the Union, and for other Purposes.|
|Nicknames||Civil Rights Act of 1870, Enforcement Act, First Ku Klux Klan Act, Force Act|
|Enacted by||the 41st United States Congress|
|Statutes at Large||16 Stat. 140-146|
|United States Supreme Court cases|
|United States v. Reese (1876)|
United States v. Cruikshank (1876)
United States v. Allen Crosby
United States v. Robert Hayes Mitchell
The Enforcement Act of 1870, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1870 or First Ku Klux Klan Act, or Force Act (41st Congress, Sess. 2, ch. 114, 16 Stat. 140, enacted May 31, 1870, effective 1871) was a United States federal law that empowered the President to enforce the first section of the Fifteenth Amendment throughout the United States. The act was the first of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress in 1870 and 1871, during the Reconstruction Era, to combat attacks on the voting rights of African Americans from state officials or violent groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
The Enforcement Act of 1870 prohibited discrimination by state officials in voter registration on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It established penalties for interfering with a person's right to vote and gave federal courts the power to enforce the act.
The act also authorized the President to employ the use of the army to uphold the act and the use of federal marshals to bring charges against offenders for election fraud, the bribery or intimidation of voters, and conspiracies to prevent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.
The act banned the use of terror, force or bribery to prevent people from voting because of their race. Other laws banned the KKK entirely. Hundreds of KKK members were arrested and tried as common criminals and terrorists. The first Klan was all but eradicated within a year of federal prosecution.
Section 2 states that every person despite race, color, or previous condition of servitude must be granted equal opportunity to become qualified to vote. If any person or government official fails to recognize this as the law, there will be a minimum fine of five hundred dollars, and at the discretion of the court, could be sentenced to jail for a period of one month up to one year.[page needed]
Section 3 states that the President of the United States had full rights to use the United States armed forces and trained army to put down any rebellions which took place as a result of these acts, or to disable any freedmen.
Section 4 states that the habeas corpus would be suspended. A writ of habeas corpus is an important right granted to individuals of America. It is a judicial mandate which requires prisoners to be brought to court in order to determine whether the government has the right to continue to imprison them. The habeas corpus was suspended only twice, during the civil war, and reconstruction, during times of rebellion and the invasion of public safety.
Section 5 states that jurors in the United States courts must not be involved in any conspiracies, and are required to swear that they didn't have any allegiances to any groups which were aiming and dedicated to overthrow the government or act in deny and constitutional rights given to citizens.
Section 6 states that if any two or more people work together to deliberately violate the act, or to intimidate any citizen with intents to prevent and restrict one's freedom, they will be charged with a maximum fine of five thousand dollars, and a maximum prison sentence of ten years, with discretion of the court. Also, they will be ineligible and prohibited from holding any office, place of honor, profit or trust which were created by the United States Constitution or the laws of the United States.
The act developed from separate legislative actions in the House and Senate. H.R. 1293 was introduced by House Republican John Bingham from Ohio on February 21, 1870, and discussed on May 16, 1870. S. 810 grew from several bills from several Senators. United States Senator George F. Edmunds from Vermont submitted the first bill, followed by United States Senator Oliver P. Morton from Indiana, United States Senator Charles Sumner from Massachusetts, and United States Senator William Stewart from Nevada. After three months of debate in the Committee on the Judiciary, the final Senate version of the bill was introduced to the Senate on April 19, 1870. The act was passed by Congress in May 1870 and signed into law by United States President Ulysses S. Grant on May 31, 1870.
U.S. Attorneys General during Reconstruction
- Ebenezer R. Hoar – 30th Attorney General, served 1869–1870
- Amos T. Akerman – 31st Attorney General, served 1870–1871
- George Henry Williams – 32nd Attorney General, served 1871–1875
- Edwards Pierrepont – 33rd Attorney General, served 1875–1876
U.S. Secretary of War during Reconstruction
- William W. Belknap – 30th Sec. of War, served 1869–1876
- Foner, p. 454.
- KKK. "The Force Acts of 1870-1871". sagehistory.net. Archived from the original on December 4, 2007.
- The Patriot Act: issues and controversies, Cary Stacy Smith, Li-Ching Hung, pg. 224
- Bruce Frohnen, ed. (2008). The American Nation: Primary Sources. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.
- Wang, p. 58.
- Wang, p. 59.
- Foner, Eric (1997). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN 9780060937164.
- Wang, Xi (1997). The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage & Northern Republicans, 1860-1910. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820318370.
- Cresswell, Stephen (1987). "Enforcing the Enforcement Acts: The Department of Justice in Northern Mississippi, 1870–1890". Journal of Southern History. 53 (3): 421–40. doi:10.2307/2209362.
- Rable, George (2007). But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction. 2nd ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820330112.
- Swinney, Everette (1962). "Enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment, 1870–1877". Journal of Southern History. 28 (2): 202–18. doi:10.2307/2205188.
- Trelease, Allen W. (1999). White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780313211683.