The Enforcement Acts 1870

Former slaves flocked to the polls to exercise their right to vote after the 15th Amendment was passed. They elected 16 African Americans to Congress and hundreds more to local offices. The backlash in many southern states was bloody.

Southern state governments were reluctant to take on the powerful white supremacist organizations responsible for the violence. Because the Federal Government had no jurisdiction over their crimes, Congress passed a series of “Enforcement Acts” between 1870 and 1871. These acts made it a Federal crime to interfere with blacks’ rights to vote, hold office, or enjoy equal protection of the laws.