President Grant has a rather deserved reputation for being a poor president. However there were bright spots to his term in office, and one of the brightest was the war he waged against the Klan.
Basically a domestic terrorist group that used violence and the threat of violence against blacks and Republicans in the South, the activities by the Klan had aroused a fury in the North by 1870. With Grant taking the lead Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan act on April 30, 1871. The text of the Act is here. The Act gave broad powers to the Executive Branch to combat the Klan, including use of the military and suspension of the writ of habeus corpus.
Grant was not shy about using his new powers and did suspend the writ of habeus corpus in several Klan infested counties in South Carolina. Under increasing pressure from the federal government, by the end of Grant’s first term the Ku Klux Klan was largely out of business throughout most of the South. Grant was unable to stem the ultimate collapse of Reconstruction in the South and the effective disenfranchisement of blacks, but his hard line against the Klan, along with his unwavering support for civil rights for blacks, deserves to be remembered and honored.