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President Grant Preliminary Order Seeking to End Ku Klux Klan Violence in South Carolina
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Accompanied by a modern printing of the text of Grant’s proclamation:

“Whereas it is provided in the Constitution that the United States shall protect every state in the Union… and …Whereas I have received information that combinations of armed men, unauthorized by law, are now disturbing the peace and safety of the citizens of the State of South Carolina and committing acts of violence … which render the power of the State and its officers unequal to the task of protecting live and property and securing public order therein…”ordering members of the Ku Klux Klan to “disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days…”

ULYSSES S. GRANT. Manuscript Document Signed, as President, directing Secretary of State Hamilton Fish to “affix the seal of the United States to the accompanying Proclamation commanding the persons composing certain unlawful combinations in the State of South Carolina to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes.” Washington, D.C. March 24, 1871, 1 p., 7.75 x 9.75 in.

Inventory #27741       Price: $7,500

With racial violence, including dozens of murders and hundreds of whippings, plaguing South Carolina, Republican Governor Robert Scott pleaded with President Grant for federal intervention. Grant issued the proclamation that this document made official, ordering all Klansmen to “retire peaceably” from their reign of terror. He also ordered US Army Major Lewis Merrill to the state with three Companies of George A. Custer's Seventh U.S. Cavalry. Merrill's efforts uncovered and documented Klan violence, but local law enforcement officers and juries included the very people committing or supporting the crimes, thus preventing prosecution or conviction of offenders.

As the proclamation was ignored, Grant became convinced that Klan activities in South Carolina amounted to warfare. On October 12th, he ordered all persons to 'disband and disperse' from the 'unlawful combinations and conspiracies' commonly known as the Ku Klux Klan, and to hand over their weapons and disguises to federal marshals. On October 17th, Grant issued a final proclamation suspending habeas corpus in nine counties that he declared to be in active rebellion.

The suspension of habeas corpus finally empowered Major Merrill to arrest 169 KKK members in York County alone before January 1872—and led hundreds more to surrender voluntarily and confess, while many of the group's leaders fled the state. U.S. District Attorney David Corbin secured 140 convictions in the Klan trials of 1871-72. Well over 1,000 cases remained pending, but unfortunately were dropped over the course of the next two years. Nevertheless, these efforts effectively dismantled the Ku Klux Klan until its revival in 1915.

Condition: Fine, with some light, slightly irregular toning.

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