The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Joint Select Committee majority report were responses to an escalating civil unrest during the Reconstruction Period of the United States. These acts were established to dismantle, or at the very least, control the practices of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the Klan had "threatened the lives and the political and economic rights of all newly freed slaves." Seen by many (and rightfully so) as a terrorist organization, the KKK resisted the Reconstruction Period by "assaulting, murdering, and intimidating freedmen and white Republicans."".
The Ku Klux Klan Act and the Joint Select Committee's majority report can be seen as succeeding "in suppressing the Klan's activities in those regions where it was enforced."" However, even though this was the beginning of freedmen and women of the south working with the government, it was short lived. .
The motivation for passing the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the formation of the Joint Select Committee, began with events that took place in the United States at the end of the eighteen sixty-three Civil War. With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the subsequent Thirteenth Amendment, slavery was abolished and approximately four million slaves were now free. This caused a major uproar in the South, since many Southern states relied heavily on the work of slaves. In an effort to once again limit the rights of the newly freemen and women, many states passed discriminatory legislation known to some as 'Black Codes'. These laws were put in place to "control the labor, movements, and activities of the newly freed slaves. Their lives became immensely regulated and put these former slaves in a position that made them just short of slaves. Due to these codes, many African Americans that had thought they were now free were now finding themselves "limited to working for their former masters, and still ostracized and inhibited from enjoying any fruits of freedom.