During Reconstruction, basic civil rights for
black Americans were enacted into the U.S.
Constitution via the 13th, 14th,
and 15th Amendments, into federal law
through the Civil Rights Acts, and into the
constitutions and laws of the former Confederate
states and a few Northern ones. Given the prevalent
racism in the country, and the resentment of many
Southern whites to Reconstruction policies, a
political reaction developed across the South. It
resulted in the replacement of Republican
Reconstruction governments with Democratic
"Redeemer" governments. That change was
accomplished and sustained in part by intimidation
and violence against blacks and their white allies.
The vehicle for those strong-arm tactics were
paramilitary groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the White
League, and the Red Shirts.
Harper’s Weekly would use this cartoon
again in 1872, another presidential election year.