Enforcement Acts

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The Enforcement Acts in the United States were four acts passed from 1870 to 1871 that were meant to protect rights of all blacks following ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as part of Reconstruction, which entitled freedmen and all others born in the United States to full citizenship.

The first act protected black voting by prohibiting the use of violence to prevent blacks from voting. Another provided for federal supervision of southern elections. The Ku Klux Klan Act passed in 1871 strengthened sanctions against those who attacked freedmen or prevented them from voting. By making such activities a federal crime, if states failed to protect freedmen, the federal government could intervene with troops on their behalf. It allowed the government to suspend habeas corpus. Intended to suppress the Klan, the KKK act helped reduce violence against freedmen for a time.

Relates to the Supreme Court case Ex parte Yarbrough.

Facts of the Case:
The Enforcement Act of 1870, which targeted the violence caused by the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South, prohibited the use of violence or intimidation to prevent freedmen from voting. In 1883, eight Georgia men, including Dilmus, James, Jasper, and Neal Yarbrough, were charged under the Enforcement Act with intimidating Berry Saunders, an African American, to prevent him from voting in the 1882 congressional election. The eight were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Following...
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