Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.

In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of the millions of former black slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black male voters was important for the party's future. On February 26, 1869, after rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude. After surviving a difficult ratification fight, the amendment was certified as duly ratified and part of the Constitution on March 30, 1870.

United States Supreme Court decisions in the late nineteenth century interpreted the amendment narrowly. From 1890 to 1910, southern states adopted new state constitutions and enacted laws that raised barriers to voter registration. This resulted in most black voters and many poor white ones being disenfranchised by poll taxes and discriminatory literacy tests, among other barriers to voting, from which white male voters were exempted by grandfather clauses. A system of white primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.

In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915) and dismantling the white primary system in the "Texas primary cases" (1927–1953). Along with later measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions significantly increased black participation in the American political system. To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

The amendment created a split within the women's suffrage movement over the amendment not prohibiting denying the women the right to vote on account of sex.

Text

15th Amendment Pg1of1 AC
The Fifteenth Amendment in the National Archives

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[1]

Background

In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of black former slaves freed by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment, the latter of which had formally abolished slavery. Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by Congress, however, Republicans grew concerned over the increase it would create in the congressional representation of the Democratic-dominated Southern states. Because the full population of freed slaves would be now counted rather than the three-fifths mandated by the previous Three-Fifths Compromise, the Southern states would dramatically increase their power in the population-based House of Representatives.[2][3] Republicans hoped to offset this advantage by attracting and protecting votes of the newly enfranchised black population.[2][4][5]

In 1865, Congress passed what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1866, guaranteeing citizenship without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude. The bill also guaranteed equal benefits and access to the law, a direct assault on the Black Codes passed by many post-war Southern states. The Black Codes attempted to return ex-slaves to something like their former condition by, among other things, restricting their movement, forcing them to enter into year-long labor contracts, prohibiting them from owning firearms, and by preventing them from suing or testifying in court.[6] Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the bill, President Johnson vetoed it on March 27, 1866. In his veto message, he objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when 11 out of 36 states were unrepresented in the Congress, and that it discriminated in favor of African Americans and against whites.[7][8] Three weeks later, Johnson's veto was overridden and the measure became law. This was the first time in American history that Congress was able to muster the votes necessary to override a presidential veto.[9] Despite this victory, even some Republicans who had supported the goals of the Civil Rights Act began to doubt that Congress possessed the constitutional power to turn those goals into laws.[10][11] The experience encouraged both radical and moderate Republicans to seek Constitutional guarantees for black rights, rather than relying on temporary political majorities.[12]

On June 18, 1866, Congress adopted the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship and equal protection under the laws regardless of race, and sent it to the states for ratification. After a bitter struggle that included attempted rescissions of ratification by two states, the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted on July 28, 1868.[13]

Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment punished, by reduced representation in the House of Representatives, any state that disenfranchised any male citizens over 21 years of age. By failing to adopt a harsher penalty, this signaled to the states that they still possessed the right to deny ballot access based on race.[14] Northern states were generally as averse to granting voting rights to blacks as Southern states. In the year of its ratification, only eight Northern states allowed Blacks to vote.[15] In the South, Blacks were able to vote in many areas, but only through the intervention of the occupying Union Army.[16] Congress had granted suffrage to Blacks in the territories by passing the Territorial Suffrage Act in 1867.[17]

Proposal and ratification

Proposal

Waud - 1867 - The First Vote
An 1867 drawing depicting African Americans casting ballots

Anticipating an increase in Democratic membership in the following Congress, Republicans used the lame-duck session of the 40th United States Congress to pass an amendment protecting black suffrage.[18] Representative John Bingham, the primary author of the Fourteenth Amendment, pushed for a wide-ranging ban on suffrage limitations, but a broader proposal banning voter restriction on the basis of "race, color, nativity, property, education, or religious beliefs" was rejected.[19] A proposal to specifically ban literacy tests was also rejected.[18] Some Representatives from the North, where nativism was a major force, wished to preserve restrictions denying the franchise to foreign-born citizens, as did Representatives from the West, where ethnic Chinese were banned from voting.[19] Both Southern and Northern Republicans also wanted to continue to deny the vote temporarily to Southerners disfranchised for support of the Confederacy, and they were concerned that a sweeping endorsement of suffrage would enfranchise this group.[20]

A House and Senate conference committee proposed the amendment's final text, which banned voter restriction only on the basis of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude".[1] To attract the broadest possible base of support, the amendment made no mention of poll taxes or other measures to block voting, and did not guarantee the right of blacks to hold office.[21] This compromise proposal was approved by the House on February 25, 1869, and the Senate the following day.[22][23]

The vote in the House was 144 to 44, with 35 not voting. The House vote was almost entirely along party lines, with no Democrats supporting the bill and only 3 Republicans voting against it,[24] some because they thought the amendment did not go far enough in its protections.[23][25] The House of Representatives passed the amendment with 143 Republican and 1 Conservative Republican votes of "Yes"; 39 Democrat, 3 Republican, 1 Independent Republican and 1 Conservative votes of "No"; 26 Republican, 8 Democrat and 1 Independent Republican not voting.[26] The final vote in the Senate was 39 to 13, with 14 not voting.[27] The Senate passed the amendment with a vote of 39 Republican votes of "Yea", 8 Democrat and 5 Republican votes of "Nay"; 13 Republican and 1 Democrat not voting.[28] Some Radical Republicans, such as Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, abstained from voting because the amendment did not prohibit literacy tests and poll taxes.[29] Following congressional approval, the proposed amendment was then sent by Secretary of State William Henry Seward to the states for ratification or rejection.[23]

Ratification

Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner (November 1869), by Thomas Nast
An 1869 Thomas Nast cartoon supporting the Fifteenth Amendment. In the cartoon, Americans of different ancestries and ethnic backgrounds sit together at a dinner table with Columbia to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal as equal members of the American citizenry, while Uncle Sam prepares and sets the table.[30][31]

Though many of the original proposals for the amendment had been moderated by negotiations in committee, the final draft nonetheless faced significant hurdles in being ratified by three-fourths of the states. Historian William Gillette wrote of the process, "it was hard going and the outcome was uncertain until the very end."[18]

One source of opposition to the proposed amendment was the women's suffrage movement, which before and during the Civil War had made common cause with the abolitionist movement. However, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, which had explicitly protected only male citizens in its second section, activists found the civil rights of women divorced from those of blacks.[14] Matters came to a head with the proposal of the Fifteenth Amendment, which barred race discrimination but not sex discrimination in voter laws. After an acrimonious debate, the American Equal Rights Association, the nation's leading suffragist group, split into two rival organizations: the National Woman Suffrage Association of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who opposed the amendment, and the American Woman Suffrage Association of Lucy Stone and Henry Browne Blackwell, who supported it. The two groups remained divided until the 1890s.[32]

15th-amendment-celebration-1870
1870 print celebrating the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in February 1870, and the post Civil War political empowerment of African Americans.

Nevada was the first state to ratify the amendment, on March 1, 1869.[23] The New England states and most Midwest states also ratified the amendment soon after its proposal.[18] Southern states still controlled by Radical reconstruction governments, such as North Carolina, also swiftly ratified.[22] Newly elected President Ulysses S. Grant strongly endorsed the amendment, calling it "a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day." He privately asked Nebraska's governor to call a special legislative session to speed the process, securing the state's ratification.[18] In April and December 1869, Congress passed Reconstruction bills mandating that Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia ratify the amendment as a precondition to regaining congressional representation; all four states did so.[23] The struggle for ratification was particularly close in Indiana and Ohio, which voted to ratify in May 1869 and January 1870, respectively.[18][23] New York, which had ratified on April 14, 1869, tried to revoke its ratification on January 5, 1870. However, in February 1870, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas ratified the amendment, bringing the total ratifying states to twenty-nine—one more than the required twenty-eight ratifications from the thirty-seven states, and forestalling any court challenge to New York's resolution to withdraw its consent.[23]

The first twenty-eight states to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment were:[33]

  1. Nevada: March 1, 1869
  2. West Virginia: March 3, 1869
  3. North Carolina: March 5, 1869
  4. Illinois: March 5, 1869
  5. Louisiana: March 5, 1869
  6. Michigan: March 8, 1869
  7. Wisconsin: March 9, 1869
  8. Maine: March 11, 1869
  9. Massachusetts: March 12, 1869
  10. Arkansas: March 15, 1869
  11. South Carolina: March 15, 1869
  12. Pennsylvania: March 25, 1869
  13. New York: April 14, 1869 (Rescinded ratification: January 5, 1870; re-ratified: March 30, 1870)
  14. Indiana: May 14, 1869
  15. Connecticut: May 19, 1869
  16. Florida: June 14, 1869
  17. New Hampshire: July 1, 1869
  18. Virginia: October 8, 1869
  19. Vermont: October 20, 1869
  20. Alabama: November 16, 1869
  21. Missouri: January 10, 1870
  22. Minnesota: January 13, 1870
  23. Mississippi: January 17, 1870
  24. Rhode Island: January 18, 1870
  25. Kansas: January 19, 1870
  26. Ohio: January 27, 1870 (After rejection: April 1/30, 1869)
  27. Georgia: February 2, 1870
  28. Iowa: February 3, 1870

Secretary of State Hamilton Fish certified the amendment on March 30, 1870,[23][34] also including the ratifications of:

29. Nebraska: February 17, 1870
30. Texas: February 18, 1870

The remaining seven states all subsequently ratified the amendment:[35]

31. New Jersey: February 15, 1871 (After rejection: March 17/18, 1870)
32. Delaware: February 12, 1901 (After rejection: March 17/18, 1869)
33. Oregon: February 24, 1959 (After rejection: October 26, 1870)
34. California: April 3, 1962 (After rejection: January 28, 1870)
35. Maryland: May 7, 1973 (After rejection: February 4/26, 1870)
36. Kentucky: March 18, 1976 (After rejection: March 11/12, 1869)
37. Tennessee: April 8, 1997 (After rejection: November 16, 1869)

The amendment's adoption was met with widespread celebrations in black communities and abolitionist societies; many of the latter disbanded, feeling that black rights had been secured and their work was complete. President Grant said of the amendment that it "completes the greatest civil change and constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came to life".[18] Many Republicans felt that with the amendment's passage, black Americans no longer needed federal protection; congressman and future president James A. Garfield stated that the amendment's passage "confers upon the African race the care of its own destiny. It places their fortunes in their own hands."[21] Congressman John R. Lynch later wrote that ratification of those two amendments made Reconstruction a success.[36]

Application

Reconstruction

The first known black voter after the amendment's adoption was Thomas Mundy Peterson, who cast his ballot on March 31, 1870, in a Perth Amboy, New Jersey referendum election adopting a revised city charter.[37]

In United States v. Reese (1876),[38] the first U.S. Supreme Court decision interpreting the Fifteenth Amendment, the Court interpreted the amendment narrowly, upholding ostensibly race-neutral limitations on suffrage including poll taxes, literacy tests, and a grandfather clause that exempted citizens from other voting requirements if their grandfathers had been registered voters, a condition only white men could generally meet.[39][40] The Court also stated that the amendment does not confer the right of suffrage, but it invests citizens of the United States with the right of exemption from discrimination in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of their race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and empowers Congress to enforce that right by "appropriate legislation".[41] The Court wrote:

The Fifteenth Amendment does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone. It prevents the States, or the United States, however, from giving preference, in this particular, to one citizen of the United States over another on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Before its adoption, this could be done. It was as much within the power of a State to exclude citizens of the United States from voting on account of race, &c., as it was on account of age, property, or education. Now it is not. If citizens of one race having certain qualifications are permitted by law to vote, those of another having the same qualifications must be. Previous to this amendment, there was no constitutional guaranty against this discrimination: now there is. It follows that the amendment has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional right which is within the protecting power of Congress. That right is an exemption from discrimination in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This, under the express provisions of the second section of the amendment, Congress may enforce by "appropriate legislation."[41]

White supremacists, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), used paramilitary violence to prevent blacks from voting. A number of blacks were killed at the Colfax massacre of 1873 while attempting to defend their right to vote. The Enforcement Acts were passed by Congress in 1870–1871 to authorize federal prosecution of the KKK and others who violated the amendment.[42] However, as Reconstruction neared its end and federal troops withdrew, prosecutions under the Enforcement Acts dropped significantly. In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government did not have the authority to prosecute the perpetrators of the Colfax massacre because they were not state actors.[43][44][45]

Alamance County North Carolina voter registration card 1902
Voter registration card, Alamance County, North Carolina, 1902, with statement from registrant of birth before January 1, 1867, when the Fifteenth Amendment became law

Congress further weakened the acts in 1894 by removing a provision against conspiracy.[44] In 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president after a highly contested election, receiving support from three Southern states in exchange for a pledge to allow white Democratic governments to rule without federal interference. As president, he refused to enforce federal civil rights protections,[46] allowing states to begin to implement racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws. A Federal Elections Bill was successfully filibustered in the Senate.[47]

Post-Reconstruction

From 1890 to 1910, poll taxes and literacy tests were instituted across the South, effectively disenfranchising the great majority of black men. White male-only primary elections also served to reduce the influence of black men in the political system. Along with increasing legal obstacles, blacks were excluded from the political system by threats of violent reprisals by whites in the form of lynch mobs and terrorist attacks by the Ku Klux Klan.[39] Some Democrats even advocated a repeal of the amendment, such as William Bourke Cockran of New York.[48]

In the 20th century, the Court began to read the Fifteenth Amendment more broadly.[44] In Guinn v. United States (1915),[49] a unanimous Court struck down an Oklahoma grandfather clause that effectively exempted white voters from a literacy test, finding it to be discriminatory. The Court ruled in the related case Myers v. Anderson (1915), that the officials who enforced such a clause were liable for civil damages.[50][51]

The Court addressed the white primary system in a series of decisions later known as the "Texas primary cases". In Nixon v. Herndon (1927),[52] Nixon sued for damages under federal civil rights laws after being denied a ballot in a Democratic party primary election on the basis of race. The Court found in his favor on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law, while not discussing his Fifteenth Amendment claim.[53] After Texas amended its statute to allow the political party's state executive committee to set voting qualifications, Nixon sued again; in Nixon v. Condon (1932),[54] the Court again found in his favor on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment.[55]

Following Nixon, the Democratic Party's state convention instituted a rule that only whites could vote in its primary elections; the Court unanimously upheld this rule as constitutional in Grovey v. Townsend (1935), distinguishing the discrimination by a private organization from that of the state in the previous primary cases.[56][57] However, in United States v. Classic (1941),[58] the Court ruled that primary elections were an essential part of the electoral process, undermining the reasoning in Grovey. Based on Classic, the Court in Smith v. Allwright (1944),[59] overruled Grovey, ruling that denying non-white voters a ballot in primary elections was a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.[60] In the last of the Texas primary cases, Terry v. Adams (1953),[61] the Court ruled that black plaintiffs were entitled to damages from a group that organized whites-only pre-primary elections with the assistance of Democratic party officials.[62]

LyndonJohnson signs Voting Rights Act of 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Court also used the amendment to strike down a gerrymander in Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960).[63] The decision found that the redrawing of city limits by Tuskegee, Alabama officials to exclude the mostly black area around the Tuskegee Institute discriminated on the basis of race.[44][64] The Court later relied on this decision in Rice v. Cayetano (2000),[65] which struck down ancestry-based voting in elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; the ruling held that the elections violated the Fifteenth Amendment by using "ancestry as a racial definition and for a racial purpose".[66]

After judicial enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment ended grandfather clauses, white primaries, and other discriminatory tactics, Southern black voter registration gradually increased, rising from five percent in 1940 to twenty-eight percent in 1960.[44] Although the Fifteenth Amendment was never interpreted to prohibit poll taxes, in 1962 the Twenty-fourth Amendment was adopted banning poll taxes in federal elections, and in 1966 the Supreme Court ruled in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966)[67] that state poll taxes violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.[68][69]

Congress used its authority pursuant to Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, achieving further racial equality in voting. Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act required states and local governments with histories of racial discrimination in voting to submit all changes to their voting laws or practices to the federal government for approval before they could take effect, a process called "preclearance." By 1976, sixty-three percent of Southern blacks were registered to vote, a figure only five percent less than that for Southern whites.[44]

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Sections 4 and 5 in South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966). However, in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which established the coverage formula that determined which jurisdictions were subject to preclearance, was no longer constitutional and exceeded Congress's enforcement authority under Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment. The Court declared that the Fifteenth Amendment "commands that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race or color, and it gives Congress the power to enforce that command. The Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future."[70] According to the Court, "Regardless of how to look at the record no one can fairly say that it shows anything approaching the 'pervasive,' 'flagrant,' 'widespread,' and 'rampant' discrimination that faced Congress in 1965, and that clearly distinguished the covered jurisdictions from the rest of the nation." In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."[71][72] While the preclearance provision itself was not struck down, it will continue to be inoperable unless Congress passes a new coverage formula.[70][73]

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b "The Constitution: Amendments 11–27". National Archives. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Goldstone 2011, p. 22.
  3. ^ Stromberg, "A Plain Folk Perspective" (2002), p. 111.
  4. ^ Nelson, William E. (1988). The Fourteenth Amendment: From Political Principle to Judicial Doctrine. Harvard University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-674-04142-4. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Stromberg, "A Plain Folk Perspective" (2002), p. 112.
  6. ^ Foner 1988, pp. 199–200.
  7. ^ Forner, Eric (2002) [1988]. Reconstruction:America's Unfinished Revolution. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 250–251. ISBN 0-06-093716-5.
  8. ^ Castel, Albert E. (1979). The Presidency of Andrew Johnson. American Presidency. Lawrence, Kan.: The Regents Press of Kansas. p. 70. ISBN 0-7006-0190-2.
  9. ^ Castel, Albert E. (1979). The Presidency of Andrew Johnson. American Presidency. Lawrence, Kan.: The Regents Press of Kansas. p. 71. ISBN 0-7006-0190-2.
  10. ^ Rosen, Jeffrey. The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, p. 79 (MacMillan 2007).
  11. ^ Newman, Roger. The Constitution and its Amendments, Vol. 4, p. 8 (Macmillan 1999).
  12. ^ Goldstone 2011, pp. 22–23.
  13. ^ Killian, Johnny H.; et al. (2004). The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation: Analysis of Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States to June 28, 2002. Government Printing Office. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-16-072379-7.
  14. ^ a b Foner 1988, p. 255.
  15. ^ Foner 1988, p. 448.
  16. ^ Goldstone 2011, p. 36.
  17. ^ Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 381–8
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Gillette, William (1986). "Fifteenth Amendment: Framing and ratification". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Foner 1988, pp. 446–47.
  20. ^ Foner 1988, p. 447.
  21. ^ a b Goldstone 2011, p. 37.
  22. ^ a b Goldman 2001, p. 3.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h "Black Voting Rights: The History of the 15th Amendment". Harpers. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  24. ^ Gillette 1965, pp. 73–74.
  25. ^ Zak, Michael (February 26, 2016). "Congratulating the Republican Party for according voting rights to African-Americans". Grand Old Partisan. TypePad. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  26. ^ "Congressional Globe, House of Representatives, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, page 1563-1564 In: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875". memory.loc.gov. February 25, 1869. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  27. ^ Gillette 1965, p. 75.
  28. ^ "Congressional Globe, Senate, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, page 1641 In: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875". memory.loc.gov. February 26, 1869. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  29. ^ Gillette 1965, p. 76.
  30. ^ Kennedy, Robert C. (November 2001). "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner, Artist: Thomas Nast". On This Day: HarpWeek. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on November 23, 2001. Retrieved November 23, 2001.
  31. ^ Walfred, Michele (July 2014). "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner: Two Coasts, Two Perspectives". Thomas Nast Cartoons. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  32. ^ Foner 1988, pp. 447–48.
  33. ^ James J. Kilpatrick, ed. (1961). The Constitution of the United States and Amendments Thereto. Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government. p. 46.
  34. ^ "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875, Statutes at Large". The Library of Congress. March 30, 1870. pp. 1131–1132. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  35. ^ Palumbo 2009, p. 172.
  36. ^ John R. Lynch, "Some Historical Errors of James Ford Rhodes", The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 2, No. 4, October 1917, p. 365
  37. ^ Bond, Gordon. North Jersey Legacies: Hidden History from the Gateway to the Skylands. The History Press, 2012, p. 134.
  38. ^ 92 U.S. 214 (1876)
  39. ^ a b Johnson 2000, p. 661.
  40. ^ Goldstone 2011, p. 97.
  41. ^ a b See 92 U.S. 214 (1876)
  42. ^ Goldstone 2011, p. 91.
  43. ^ 92 U.S. 542 (1876)
  44. ^ a b c d e f Elliott, Ward E. Y. (January 1, 2000). "Fifteenth Amendment (Judicial Interpretation)". Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  45. ^ However, in Ex Parte Yarbrough (1884), the Court allowed individuals who were not state actors to be prosecuted because Article I, Section 4 gives Congress the power to regulate federal elections.
  46. ^ Conlin, Joseph R. (2013). The American Past: A Survey of American History, Volume II: Since 1865. Cengage Learning. p. 423. ISBN 978-1-133-94664-9. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  47. ^ Wendy Hazard, "Thomas Brackett Reed, Civil Rights, and the Fight for Fair Elections," Maine History, March 2004, Vol. 42 Issue 1, pp. 1–23
  48. ^ Clarke, Thomas H.R.; McKay, Barney (1901). A Republican Text-Book for Colored Voters. Washington, D.C.: T.H.R. Clarke and B. McKay. Retrieved February 28, 2016. W. Bourke Cocharn, of New York, a leading Northern Democrat, has emphasized the above expression of Senator Tillman by advocating a repeal of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Thus the Democratic party North and South is joining hands to disfranchise the negro.
  49. ^ 238 U.S. 347 (1915)
  50. ^ 238 U.S. 368 (1915)
  51. ^ Mahoney, Dennis J. (January 1, 2000). "Guinn v. United States 238 U.S. 347 (1915)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  52. ^ 273 U.S. 536 (1927)
  53. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Nixon v. Herndon 273 U.S. 536 (1927)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  54. ^ 286 U.S. 73 (1932)
  55. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Nixon v. Condon 286 U.S. 73 (1932)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  56. ^ 295 U.S. 45 (1935)
  57. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Grovey v. Townsend 295 U.S. 45 (1935)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  58. ^ 313 U.S. 299 (1941)
  59. ^ 321 U.S. 649 (1944)
  60. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Smith v. Allwright 321 U.S. 649 (1944)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  61. ^ 345 U.S. 461 (1953)
  62. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Terry v. Adams 345 U.S. 461 (1953)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  63. ^ 364 U.S. 339 (1960)
  64. ^ Newman, Roger K. (January 1, 2001). "Brown, John R." The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  65. ^ 528 U.S. 495 (2000)
  66. ^ Katz, Ellen D. (December 1, 2000). "Race and the right to vote after Rice v. Cayetano". Michigan Law Review.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  67. ^ 383 U.S. 663 (1966)
  68. ^ Karst, Kenneth L. (1986). "Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections 383 U.S. 663 (1966)". Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  69. ^ "Twenty-fourth Amendment". Constitutional Amendments: From Freedom of Speech to Flag Burning.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 1, 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  70. ^ a b Schwartz, John (25 June 2013). "Between the Lines of the Voting Rights Act Opinion". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  71. ^ "John Lewis and others react to the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act ruling", The Washington Post, June 25, 2013
  72. ^ "SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL,". LII / Legal Information Institute.
  73. ^ Lyle, Denniston (June 25, 2013). "Open recap: Voting law in deep peril". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved June 30, 2013.

Bibliography

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African-American officeholders in the United States, 1789–1866

The United States has had five African-American elected office holders prior to 1867. After Congress passed the First Military Reconstruction Act of 1867 and ratified the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1870, African Americans began to be elected or appointed to national, state, county and local offices throughout the United States.Four of the five office holders served in a New England state. Three officeholders served as a state legislator.

Wentworth Cheswell first served in an elective office in 1776 as a local school board member in Newmarket, New Hampshire. He would serve in elective office until his death in 1817.

Alexander Lucius Twilight was an American educator, politician, and minister. He was the first African American to earn a college degree from an American College at Middlebury College in 1823. He is the first African American elected to serve in a state legislature. He was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1836. Twilight was also a minister and secondary school principal, building Athenian Hall at the Orleans County Grammar Schools.

John Mercer Langston

Edward Garrison Walker

Charles Lewis Mitchell was one of two African Americans to be elected as a state legislator in Massachusetts in 1866. The other state legislator was Edward G. Walker. He served a one-year term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. During the American Civil War he served in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Volunteer Infantry and lost a foot during the Battle of Honey Hill.

Barney Ford

Barney Lancelot Ford (January 22, 1822 – December 22, 1902) was an escaped slave who became a wealthy businessman and civil-rights pioneer in Colorado. He is a member of the Colorado Black Hall of Fame, the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, and has a stained-glass portrait in the House Chamber of the Colorado State Capitol.

Bryant W. Bailey

Bryant William Bailey (July 29, 1868 – February 3, 1961) was a businessman, politician, and journalist who became a leading figure during the 1890s in the short-lived Populist Party in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

Charles C. Cordill

Charles C. Cordill (October 13, 1845 – November 22, 1916), was a cotton planter and politician from Tensas Parish in the northeastern portion of the U.S. state of Louisiana. He was a member of the Louisiana State Senate from 1884 until 1912 in which he represented both Tensas and neighboring Concordia Parish to the south.

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by the former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century, and by Oklahoma when it gained statehood in 1907, although not by the former border slave states. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

During the later elections of Reconstruction era, beginning in the 1870s, white Democrats used violence by paramilitary groups, as well as fraud, to suppress black Republican voters and turn Republicans out of office. After regaining control of the state legislatures, Democrats were alarmed by a late 19th-century alliance between Republicans and Populists that cost them some elections. After achieving control of state legislatures, white Democrats added to previous efforts and achieved widespread disenfranchisement by law: from 1890 to 1908, Southern state legislatures passed new constitutions, constitutional amendments, and laws that made voter registration and voting more difficult, especially when administered by white staff in a discriminatory way. They succeeded in disenfranchising most of the black citizens, as well as many poor whites in the South, and voter rolls dropped dramatically in each state. The Republican Party was nearly eliminated in the region for decades, and the Democrats established one-party control throughout the southern states.In 1912, the Republican Party was split when Roosevelt ran against the party regular, Taft. In the South by this time, the Republican Party had been hollowed out by the disenfranchisement of African Americans, who were largely excluded from voting. Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected as the first southern President since 1856. He was re-elected in 1916, in a much closer presidential contest. During his first term, Wilson satisfied the request of Southerners in his cabinet and instituted overt racial segregation throughout federal government workplaces, as well as racial discrimination in hiring. During World War I, American military forces were segregated, with black soldiers poorly trained and equipped.

Disenfranchisement had far-reaching effects in Congress, where the Democratic Solid South enjoyed "about 25 extra seats in Congress for each decade between 1903 and 1953." Also, the Democratic dominance in the South meant that southern Senators and Representatives became entrenched in Congress. They favored seniority privileges in Congress, which became the standard by 1920, and Southerners controlled chairmanships of important committees, as well as leadership of the national Democratic Party. During the Great Depression, legislation establishing numerous national social programs were passed without the representation of African Americans, leading to gaps in program coverage and discrimination against them in operations. In addition, because black Southerners were not listed on local voter rolls, they were automatically excluded from serving in local courts. Juries were all white across the South.

Political disenfranchisement did not end until after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which authorized the federal government to monitor voter registration practices and elections where populations were historically underrepresented, and to enforce constitutional voting rights. The challenge to voting rights has continued into the 21st century, as shown by numerous court cases in 2016 alone, though attempts to restrict voting rights for political advantage have not been confined to the Southern states. Another method of seeking political advantage through the voting system is the gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, as was the case of North Carolina, which in January 2018 was declared by a federal court to be unconstitutional. Such cases are expected to reach the Supreme Court.

February 3

February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 331 days remaining until the end of the year (332 in leap years).

Fifteenth Amendment

The Fifteenth Amendment may refer to the:

Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed men the right to vote regardless of race without the help of Black Codes.

Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which allowed divorce to be legalized in Ireland.

Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, which sought to impose Sharia Law but was not passed.

Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of South Africa repealed some of the provisions inserted into the Constitution by the Eighth and Tenth Amendments which allowed for floor-crossing, that is, allowed members of legislative bodies to move from one political party to another without losing their seats.

Lane v. Wilson

Lane v. Wilson, 307 U.S. 268 (1939), was a United States Supreme Court case that found a 12-day one-time voter registration window to be discriminatory for black citizens and repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment.

List of African-American United States Representatives

The United States House of Representatives has had 153 elected African-American members, of whom 147 have been Representatives from U.S. states and 6 have been Delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameral United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau defines African Americans as citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. The term is generally used for Americans with at least partial ancestry in any of the original peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. During the founding of the federal government, African Americans were consigned to a status of second-class citizenship or enslaved. No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Joseph Rainey was the first African-American representative to be seated in the U.S. House. He served South Carolina's 1st congressional district beginning in 1870 during the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War. The first African-American woman to serve as a representative was Shirley Chisholm from New York's 12th congressional district in 1969 during the Civil Rights Movement. Many African-American members of the House of Representatives serve majority-minority districts. These congressional districts are gerrymandered, limit serious challenges to their re-election, and limit their abilities to represent a larger, more diverse constituency. Overall, 29 of the 50 U.S. states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, have elected an African American to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Colorado and Massachusetts being the most recent to elect their first in 2018; out of these, 19 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, have elected an African-American woman to represent them in the U.S. House. Illinois' 1st congressional district has the longest continuous streak of electing African-American representatives, a tendency which has occurred since 1929 to the present. There currently are 52 African-American Representatives and two African-American Delegates in the United States House of Representatives. Most are members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

List of African-American United States Senators

The United States Senate has had ten African-American elected or appointed office holders. The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau defines African Americans as citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. The term is generally used for Americans with at least partial ancestry in any of the original peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. During the founding of the federal government, African Americans were consigned to a status of second-class citizenship or enslaved. No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Of the ten senators, six were popularly elected (including one that previously had been appointed by his state's governor), two were elected by the state legislature prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913 (which provides for the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people of each state), and two were appointed by a state Governor. The 113th United States Congress (2013–15) marked the first time that two African Americans served concurrently in the Senate.The first two African-American senators represented the state of Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era, following the American Civil War. Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve, was elected by the Mississippi State Legislature to succeed Albert G. Brown, who resigned during the Civil War. Some Democratic members of the United States Senate opposed his being seated based on the court case Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) by the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that Revels did not meet the citizenship requirement, but the majority of Senators voted to seat him. The Mississippi state legislature elected Blanche Bruce in 1875, but Republicans lost power of the Mississippi state legislature in 1876. Bruce was not elected to a second term in 1881. In 1890 the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution disfranchising most black voters. Every other Southern state also passed disfranchising constitutions by 1908, excluding African Americans from the political system in the entire former Confederacy. This situation persisted into the 1960s until after federal enforcement of constitutional rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The next black United States Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, took office in 1967. He was the first African American to be elected by popular vote after the ratification in 1913 of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, rather than to be elected by a state legislature. The Seventeenth Amendment established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote.

Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama were both elected by the voters of Illinois, entering the Senate in 1993 and 2005, respectively. Carol Moseley Braun is the first African-American woman to be elected - or appointed - to the Senate after the ratification in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. While serving in the Senate, Obama became the first African American to be elected to the office of President of the United States. Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of the Senate term of President-elect Obama.The next two black Senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, were both appointed by governors to fill the terms of Jim DeMint and John Kerry, respectively, who had resigned their positions. On October 16, 2013, citizens of New Jersey elected Cory Booker in a special election to fill the seat of the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. Sworn into office on October 31, 2013, he is the first African-American Senator to be elected since Barack Obama in 2004 and the first to represent the state of New Jersey, later securing a full 6-year term in the 2014 mid-term elections. Senator Tim Scott retained his seat in a special election in 2014, also securing a full 6-year term in 2016. On January 3, 2017, Senators Scott and Booker were joined in the Senate by Kamala Harris of California, who was elected on November 8, 2016. Senator Harris is the second African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

As of September 5, 2018, there have been 1,974 members of the United States Senate, but only ten have been African American. While 58 nationwide organizations exist to elect women to the United States Congress, including EMILY's List and the Susan B. Anthony List, no organization has been formed to elect African Americans to the United States Congress.

Myers v. Anderson

Myers v. Anderson, 238 U.S. 368 (1915), was a United States Supreme Court decision that held Maryland state officials liable for civil damages for enforcing a grandfather clause. Grandfather clauses exempted voters from requirements such as poll taxes and literacy tests if their grandfathers had been registered voters, and were largely designed to disenfranchise former black slaves and their descendants. Despite striking down the Maryland law as discriminatory, the court noted that economic discrimination in the form of property requirements should be presumed to be "free from constitutional objection."Myers was a companion case to Guinn v. United States (1915), which struck down an Oklahoma grandfather clause that effectively exempted white voters from a literacy test, finding it to be discriminatory and a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

National Anti-Slavery Standard

The National Anti-Slavery Standard was the official weekly newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, established in 1840 under the editorship of Lydia Maria Child and David Lee Child. The paper published continuously until the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1870. Its motto was "Without Concealment—Without Compromise." It not only implies suffrage rights for colored males, but also women's suffrage as well. It contained Volume I, number 1, June 11, 1840 through volume XXX, number 50, April 16, 1870.

National Woman Suffrage Association

The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed on May 15, 1869 in New York City The National Association was created in response to a split in the American Equal Rights Association over whether the woman's movement should support the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Its founders, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, opposed the Fifteenth Amendment unless it included the vote for women. Men were able to join the organization as members; however, women solely controlled the leadership of the group. The NWSA worked to secure women's enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. Contrarily, its rival, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), believed success could be more easily achieved through state-by-state campaigns. In 1890 the NWSA and the AWSA merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

Racism in Oregon

There has been a history of racism in the U.S. state of Oregon.

Reconstruction Amendments

The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War. The last time the Constitution had been amended was with the Twelfth Amendment more than 60 years earlier in 1804. The Reconstruction amendments were important in implementing the Reconstruction of the American South after the war. Their proponents saw them as transforming the United States from a country that was (in Abraham Lincoln's words) "half slave and half free" to one in which the constitutionally guaranteed "blessings of liberty" would be extended to the entire populace, including the former slaves and their descendants.

The Thirteenth Amendment (proposed in 1864 and ratified in 1865) abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except for those duly convicted of a crime. The Fourteenth Amendment (proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868) addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws for all persons. The Fifteenth Amendment (proposed in 1869 and ratified in 1870) prohibits discrimination in voting rights of citizens on the basis of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." All races, regardless of prior slavery, could vote in some states of the early United States, such as New Jersey, provided that they could meet other requirements, such as property ownership.

These amendments were intended to guarantee freedom to former slaves and to establish and prevent discrimination in certain civil rights to former slaves and all citizens of the United States. The promise of these amendments was eroded by state laws and federal court decisions over the course of the 19th century. In 1876 and later, some states passed Jim Crow laws that limited the rights of African-Americans. Important Supreme Court decisions that undermined these amendments were the Slaughter-House Cases in 1873, which prevented rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment's privileges or immunities clause from being extended to rights under state law; and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 which originated the phrase "separate but equal" and gave federal approval to Jim Crow laws. The full benefits of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments were not realized until the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

South Carolina v. Katzenbach

South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301 (1966), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court rejected a challenge from the state of South Carolina to the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required that some states submit changes in election districts to the Attorney General of the United States (at the time, Nicholas Katzenbach). The preclearance provisions were ruled constitutional and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enforced in full.

Timeline of voting rights in the United States

This is a timeline of voting rights in the United States.

Universal manhood suffrage

Universal manhood suffrage is a form of voting rights in which all adult males within a political system are allowed to vote, regardless of income, property, religion, race, or any other qualification. It is sometimes summarized by the slogan, "one man, one vote."

William Thomas Hamilton

William Thomas Hamilton (September 8, 1820 – October 26, 1888), a member of the United States Democratic Party, was the 38th Governor of Maryland in the United States from 1880 to 1884. He also served in the United States Senate, representing the State of Maryland, from 1868–1874, and in the House of Representatives, representing the second district (1849–1853) and fourth district (1853–1855) of Maryland.

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