The Fifteenth Amendment And Other Civil War Amendments With Works Consulted

864 words - 3 pages

It was inevitable that blacks would stay at the bottom of southern society. Just because they were free didn't mean that their lives experienced a complete turnaround. The fact that they had no base on which to start their new lives made it even harder. After the Civil War, the government sought to create equality amongst the Whites and the African Americans. The passage of the 15th amendment was essential to the modern America even though it was difficult to enforce.The 15th amendment states, "Section 1: The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.(Pen 307)" With ratification of the 15th amendment, black males were given the vote in 17 more Northern and Border States. However, without section 2, section 1 of the amendment alone could do nothing (Pen 305). The second part of the amendment states, "Section 2: The congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation ("The Constitution")." This portion of the amendment would prove to be very useful later on.Although the freedom to vote is considered a foundation of democracy, nowhere did the original U.S Constitution name voting as a right of U.S citizens (Pen 300). Voting was considered a privilege, not a right. The Amendment also enforced the newfound equality between Whites and African Americans. "This wonderful, quiet, sudden transformation of four millions of human beings from...the auction-block to the ballot box" was unprecedented, rejoiced abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (Boyer 404).All throughout and after the Civil War, the Democratic Party politicians held power and opposed ending slavery. They didn't want to give blacks the opportunity to support antislavery candidates at the ballot box (Pen 302). In general, many whites distrusted blacks, and they claimed that blacks lacked civic virtue. The new black vote helped elect, Republican candidate, Ulysses S. Grant as president.Progress in enforcing the amendments came slowly. Section 1 of the 15th amendment on its own was ineffective. It also failed to guarantee African Americans the right to hold office. Section 1 of the amendment did not prevent the state from limiting voting rights through discriminatory requirements.Poll Taxes were a fee charged at the polling place. Many enforcers of poll taxes attempted to avoid 15th amendment violations on the basis that it was applied to black and whites alike. In the Breedlove v. Suttres (1937) Supreme Court case, they were upheld ("Supreme...").Literacy Tests stated that the voter must be able to read. The tester must not discriminate. Requirements can include age, residence, and criminal record. In the case of Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections (1959), the...

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