Extralegal Violence: The Ku Klux Klan In The Reconstruction Era

  • Sarah K. Sullivan Boston College
Keywords: Reconstruction, Ku Klux Klan, Violence, Race


This article is a response to the Equal Justice Initiative’s 2015 report on lynching, which aimed to provide a comprehensive account of racial terror since 1877. Although the study encompassed three years before the commonly used beginning date of research on lynching, the author argues that it omitted a great number of cases from the Reconstruction era (1865-1877). In this essay, she evaluates testimonial evidence from the 13 volumes of the Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States published by the U.S. Congress in 1872, citing specific cases of atrocities committed by the Ku Klux Klan in the years following the Civil War. A close examination of these reports reveals that the level of extralegal violence inflicted on African Americans in the Reconstruction era has been severely underestimated. Researchers are called to extend their investigations of lynching to include this period of history in order to develop a more truthful account of racial terror in this country.

Author Biography

Sarah K. Sullivan, Boston College
Sarah is a junior in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in History and Psychology. She hopes to utilize and combine her knowledge in both areas for a potential career in the field of law. She is spending her Fall semester abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys writing for The Rock at Boston College, visiting art museums, and petting dogs.
How to Cite
Sullivan, S. K. (2016). Extralegal Violence: The Ku Klux Klan In The Reconstruction Era. Elements, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.6017/eurj.v12i2.9439