Broadside illustrating public concern about political corruption
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Grant presided over the last half of Reconstruction. He supported amnesty for Confederate leaders and protection for the civil rights of African-Americans. In 1869 and 1871, Grant signed bills promoting voting rights and prosecuting Klan leaders. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, establishing voting rights, was ratified in 1870. Grant's commitment to black civil rights was demonstrated by his address to Congress in 1875 and by his attempt to use the annexation of Santo Domingo as leverage to force white supremacists to accept blacks as part of the Southern political polity. Grant signed a bill into law that created Yellowstone National Park (America's first National Park) on March 1, 1872. Grant also signed into law making Christmas a federal holiday in 1870.
During Grant's second term there was the "Panic of 1873," which set off a depression. As a result the Democrats gained control of Congress in 1874. Grant's "Resumption of Species Act in 1875" did eventually help resolve the crisis.