Through the so-called Black Codes, Southern elites sought to keep the status quo and provide loopholes to the Thirteenth Amendment and the abolition of slavery. Owing to President Andrew Johnson's policies and Southern white interests, enforcement even of congressional legislation was elusive until Ulysses Grant won the presidency in 1868.
The Civil Rights Acts, sometimes called the Enforcement Acts, passed in 1870–71, sought to guarantee equal protection under the law, the right to vote, the ability to serve on juries, and the right to hold office for all American citizens regardless of race. Various breaches of legality, including the use of terror and bribery, were expressly banned. Meanwhile, the president was granted the right to use the army for purposes of enforcement. These federal laws also provided for central government monitoring of local and state elections. Finally, officials who stood in the way of enforcement of the acts were made liable in federal court.
Historians tend to see these measures, which were part of what is sometimes called Radical Reconstruction, spearheaded by the Republican Party, as having been moderately successful.