How did Congress make certain that Southern states followed the laws of Reconstruction?

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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.

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Congress imposed Reconstruction by force on a reluctant South knowing that the exhausted Southern states were in no position to resist, given that they'd just been defeated in the Civil War.

Although Congress dealt with the formal aspects of Reconstruction, such as increased opportunities for political participation by African American citizens, it didn't pay sufficient heed to the substance of Reconstruction. In other words, it didn't attempt to change the economic and political power structures that operated in the Southern states.

The vast majority of Southerners were, and would remain, white supremacists who didn't believe in freedom for African Americans, let alone civil rights. This meant that, when the political energy for imposing Reconstruction waned (as it inevitably would), white supremacists would once again take charge of Southern political institutions and systematically begin the process of violating civil rights. The fact that they were able to do precisely this is a testament to the inadequacy of relying on force to maintain the policies of Reconstruction.

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One of the most significant moves by Congress to ensure the Southern states followed the law was the passing of the Reconstruction Act of 1867. The act ensured that Southern states’ constitutions were developed in a participatory manner by both blacks and whites getting involved through the principle of Universal Male Suffrage. The Act also required that all states recognized anyone born or naturalized in the U.S. as a citizen by ratifying the 14th Amendment in order to join the Union. The passing and subsequent ratification of the 15th Amendment by the states also ensured that everyone had a right to vote regardless of their race.

President Johnson who attempted to actively oppose the Reconstruction Act was impeached. He narrowly avoided conviction and was forced to sit out the rest of his term. Enforcement Acts were passed outlawing organizations that were engaged in racial violence. These laws allowed the President to declare martial law in areas under threat from such organizations. The federal government subsequently exercised its power by cracking down on such organizations and showing its commitment to Reconstruction.

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Essentially, Congress made certain that Southern states followed the laws with regard to Reconstruction by force.  Congress sent the military to the South to rule the Southern states and ensure that they obeyed the law.

Under the Military Reconstruction Act, the South (with the exception of Tennessee) was split into five military districts.  Each of these districts was commanded by an army officer who had the right to do whatever was needed to keep order and protect people's (including blacks') rights.  They were even authorized to create military tribunals instead of having regular civil courts in which to try people charged with crimes.

These military districts were disbanded after states complied with the rules and came to be allowed to have democratic governments again.  However, military forces remained in the South in some areas.

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