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On this day in 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified

February 3, 2023

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 3 of February, repeating indefinitely

On this day in 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified, giving all American men the right to vote, regardless of race or previous state of servitude. Significantly, this meant that emancipated slaves and other African Americans had all the rights and privileges awarded by the Constitution to every U.S. citizen.

The immediate effects of the Fifteenth Amendment were dramatic. Throughout the South, thousands of African Americans registered to vote. The majority in many areas gained substantial political power and soon thereafter began serving as local, state, and federal representatives.

Sadly, this right of suffrage would not remain protected. As federal troops pulled out of the southern U.S. in the late 1870s, many former Confederates found ways to prevent black men from voting. African Americans faced poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright voter intimidation from white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

The Fifteenth Amendment, though a landmark in our constitutional history, wouldn’t be enforced for years to come when additional laws were passed during the civil rights movement.

The First Vote, Alfred Rudolph Waud, 1867

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February 3, 2023
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