constitutional law, civil rights, reconstruction


This essay recounts the heroic efforts of federal legal officers and judges to enforce citizens' rights during the 1870s. Part I sets forth the historical events giving rise to the enforcement effort of the Grant Administration. Part II details the problems which the federal executive branch faced when it aggressively prosecuted civil rights violations. Part III details the problems which the federal judiciary faced in administering the civil rights prosecutions brought by the executive branch. Part IV details the national political problems that eventually ended effective enforcement of federal civil rights laws. This Essay concludes that, notwithstanding the problems faced by the federal executive and judicial branches which hindered effective enforcement of civil rights, federal legal officers succeeded in destroying the Ku Klux Klan. Nonetheless, national political developments finally ended any hope of vindicating the civil rights of blacks until the twentieth century.



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