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15 Amendment Essay

1008 words - 4 pages

Mrs. HoffmanUS History IIMarch 24, 2011Barriers Formed by the South Imposing the 15th AmendmentDuring the Civil War of 1861, the black vote was nearly impossible to achieve. In 1870, the 15th Amendment was enacted which gave Africans Americans the right to vote. By passing this Amendment, southern whites became extremely angered and thus found ways to work around the Amendment. Some important barriers to avoid the amendment were white-only primaries and also poll-taxes. Others were grandfather clauses, and literacy tests. Although the Amendment was created to grant suffrage to African American males, the South created poll-taxes and used white only primaries to deny them from voting.In the United States, voting is among one of many privileges granted to the citizens. After the Revolutionary War, white male who owned property were only allowed to vote (Pendergast et al. 300). During the 1860's and earlier, black men were denied to vote in elections, causing an altercation among Congress. The Reconstruction period were the years following the Civil War, which called for three constitutional amendments (Newman 75). One of which happened to be the 15th Amendment. The Amendment was passed February 26, 1869, and became part of the United States Constitution in March 1870 (Newman 76). It specifically stated that no one can be denied of voting, in any state, due to their race (Lieberman 192). Out of spite, the southern states felt a need to retaliate against the 15th Amendment. Therefore, they set out for barriers that would help deny the African Americans from voting.One barrier in which provided a struggle among African Americans was literacy tests. In 1890, Mississippi adopted the policy but soon it spread rapidly throughout the south. The Literacy Test was based upon someone's knowledge and to prove their U.S citizenship. Questions asked on the tests varied from intellectual knowledge to unintelligent knowledge. For example some questions asked were as simple as, "How many feathers does a chicken have" (Corbin 42). Even the most educated blacks failed, and had a demoralizing impact upon the blacks Americans. For example; 130,000 blacks were applied to vote in Louisiana in 1893 but after the literacy tests were applied, the number of black voters dropped to 5,000 (Corbin 43). Literacy tests were only declared legal at one point because it served for both blacks and white, but was dominated by whites (Corbin 42).Another term to the Literacy Test was that African Americans had to prove that they had ancestor, which also relates to a Grandfather Clause. This nearly knocked all blacks from voting due to the fact that they had no ancestors. Whites, on the other hand, did not receive literacy tests because most white men had ancestors eligible to vote in 1866. When brought up in court, states backed up the fifteenth amendment by stating that it was not violated because all applicants had to either meet a grandfather clause or literacy test (Pendergast 306)....

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