Civil Rights Act Is Signed

A distinguishing characteristic in the Grant Presidency was Grant's concern with the plights of African Americans and native Indian tribes.

Grant's 1868 campaign slogan, "Let us have peace," defined his motivation and assured his success. As president for two terms, Grant made many advances in both civil and human rights. He won passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave the freedman the vote, and the Ku Klux Klan Act, which empowered the president "to arrest and break up disguised night marauders." He pressed for the former slaves to be "possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it." In 1869 and 1871, Grant signed bills promoting voting rights and prosecuting Klan leaders and later signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which entitled equal treatment in public accommodations and jury selection. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, establishing voting rights, was ratified in 1870. While these were used to effectively suppress the Klan, by 1874 a new wave of paramilitary organizations arose in the Deep South. The Red Shirts and White League, that conducted insurgency in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana, operated openly and were better organized than the Ku Klux Klan had been. They aimed to turn Republicans out of office, suppress the black vote, and disrupt elections.

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 335) was a United States federal law proposed by Republican Senator Charles Sumner and Republican Congressman Benjamin F. Butler in 1870. The act was passed by Congress in February, 1875 and signed by President Grant on March 1, 1875. It was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1883. Many of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were passed into law in the 1960s with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act using the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.