Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Shoffner Act

by Allen W. Trelease, 2006(Click to see larger image). Courtesy of UNC Libraries.

The Shoffner Act, introduced by state senator T. M. Shoffner of Alamance County and passed in 1870, empowered the governor to suspend habeas corpus and use militia to restore order in counties where Ku Klux Klan terrorism raged out of control. Governor William W. Holden invoked the act that year to suppress the Klan in Alamance and Caswell Counties, igniting the so-called Kirk-Holden War and leading to Holden's impeachment and removal from office.


J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina (1914).

Allen W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (1971).

Additional Resources:

The Kirk-Holden War, ANCHOR:

Governor Holden speaks out against the Ku Klux Klan:

Argument in the impeachment trial of W.W. Holden, governor of North Carolina: full stenographic reports revised and corrected. Available from (accessed August 3, 2012).

Image Credit:

Broadside published by the Randolph County Executive Committee of the Republican Party on June 1, 1870. North Carolina Collection, Call Number Cb329.1 N87r. Courtesy of UNC Libraries. Available from (accessed August 3, 2012).

Origin - location: