ULYSSES S. GRANT AND CIVIL RIGHTS

A remembrance of the important role our 18th president played in securing the freedom and civil rights of former slaves.


March 30, 1870

Ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment

"The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

April 20, 1871

Signing of the Second Enforcement Act

"The Ku Klux Klan Act"
by

President Grant

This act protected black suffrage and targeted the activities of such violent groups as the Ku Klux Klan.

A measure which makes at once 4,000,000 people voters who were heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so . . . is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day.

President Grant's message to Congress announcing ratification of the 15th Amendment

A RECORD OF ACHIEVEMENT

October 12, 1871

President Grant issues proclamation ordering the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina to disperse and surrender arms.

May 31, 1870

Signing of the first Enforcement Act

by

President Ulysses S. Grant

This act substantially secured the voting rights of freedmen.

President Grant's role in securing the full political equality of all Americans regardless of color is unsurpassed in presidential history. Even after the popular will overwhelmingly turned against the President's efforts to protect the political and civil rights of former slaves, Ulysses S. Grant refused to abandon his commitment to those for whose freedom he had fought. After he left office, the federal government ended the policy of military intervention in the South and allowed the South to enter a new era of segregation and disfranchisement. During this period, President Grant's efforts to protect the freedmen during Reconstruction were widely ridiculed and declared to be misguided. Such criticism, however, has crumbled in the face of history. . . .

March 1, 1875

Civil Rights Act of 1875

signed by

President Grant

This groundbreaking act prohibited segregation in various modes of public accommodations and transportation and discrimination in jury selection.


The present difficulty, in bringing all parts of the United States to a happy unity and love of country grows out of the prejudice to color. The prejudice is a senseless one, but it exists.

- U.S. Grant, 1869



Ulysses S. Grant, c. 1869

Suffrage once given can never be taken away, and all that remains for us now is to make good that gift by protecting those who have yet received it.

- U.S. Grant on black suffrage shortly after his presidency


General Grant Receiving his Commission as Lieutenant General from President Lincoln

[B]y arming the Negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers.

- U.S. Grant, in a letter to Abraham Lincoln


I . . . regard it my duty to protect all persons received into the army of the United States, regardless of color or nationality.

- U.S. Grant, in a letter to General Robert E. Lee protesting the mistreatment of black prisoners of war

I don't know why a black skin may not cover a true heart as well as a white one.

- U.S. Grant

 

Frederick Douglass affirmed President Grant's "entire freedom from vulgar prejudice of race and color."

Grant was a humane conqueror and the benefactor of an enslaved and despised race, a race who will ever cherish a grateful remembrance of his name, fame and great services . . . . [He] was right towards us.

- Henry O. Wagoner, in a letter to Frederick Douglass

I know the man. I like a man in the Presidential chair . . . such as the poor people of my own race, as well as the poor people of every other race, can approach, and approach easily.

- Frederick Douglass


John Mercer Langston

Grant has shown himself an active, honest advocate of the negro and their friend.

- John Mercer Langston