15th Amendment to the Constitution

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15th Amendment, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution

15th Amendment to the Constitution
 
"The 15th Amendment ensures the right of black men to vote."

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to African-Americans, and the 15th Amendment granted African-American men the right to vote.
 
The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African-American men the right to vote by declaring that 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." Although it passed Congress on February 26, 1869, and was ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote. (See Proposal and Ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
 

Transcript of 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights (1870):

 

Fortieth Congress of the United States of America;

 

At the third Session, Begun and held at the city of Washington, on Monday, the seventh day of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.

 

A Resolution Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two-thirds of both Houses concurring) that the following article be proposed to the legislature of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which, when ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures shall be valid as part of the Constitution, namely:

 

Article XV.

 
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.

Sources: Library of Congress (Primary Documents in American History); U.S. Constitution Online; National Archives.

Recommended Reading: The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction. Review: "The Bill of Rights stands as the high temple of our constitutional order--America's Parthenon--and yet we lack a clear view of it," Akhil Reed Amar writes in his introduction to The Bill of Rights. "Instead of being studied holistically, the Bill has been broken up ... with each segment examined in isolation." With The Bill of Rights, Amar aims to put the pieces back together and take a longer view of a document few Americans truly understand. Part history of the Bill, part analysis of the Founding Fathers' intentions, this book provides a unique interpretation of the Constitution. Continued below... 

 It is Amar's hypothesis that, contrary to popular belief, the Bill of Rights was not originally constructed to protect the minority against the majority, but rather to empower popular majorities. It wasn't until 19th-century post-Civil War reconstruction and the introduction of the 14th Amendment that the notion of individual rights took hold. Prior to that, the various amendments to the Constitution that make up the Bill of Rights were more about the structure of government and designed to protect citizens against a self-interested regime. Yet so great has been the impact of the 14th Amendment on modern legal thought that the Bill's original intentions have almost been forgotten. Through skillful interpretation and solid research, Amar both reconstructs the original thinking of the Founding Fathers and chronicles the radical changes that have occurred since the inclusion of the 14th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The results make for provocative reading no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.

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Recommended Reading: Origins of the Bill of Rights (Yale Contemporary Law Series). From Library Journal: Constitutional historian Levy, author of 36 books concerning American politics and constitutional issues (e.g., The Palladium of Justice: Origins of Trial by Jury), provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the origins of the Bill of Rights and other constitutional provisions that protect rights. His historical analysis frames fundamental principles of "liberty" and "rights" by interpreting each of the first nine amendments to the Constitution and demonstrating differences between 18th-century American ideals and English common-law practice. Continued below...

His informative arguments in this important work concern nature and the sources of the Bill of Rights within American democracy, providing understanding for both scholars and citizens. Levy's approach to these controversial values, which protect the rights of the people, will be the source of future legal and public discussion. A significant contribution to understanding the Bill of Rights; highly recommended.
 

Recommended Reading: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation, by Thomas Jefferson (Author), Second Continental Congress (Author), Constitutional Convention (Author). Description: Collected in one affordable volume are the most important documents of the United States of America: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation. These three documents are the basis for our entire way of life. Every citizen should have a copy.

 

Recommended Reading: The U.S. Constitution: And Fascinating Facts About It. Description: In The U.S. Constitution & Fascinating Facts About It you'll see the entire text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence--and much more! You'll find interesting insights into the men who wrote the Constitution, how it was created, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution in the two centuries since its creation.

 

Recommended Reading: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Constitution. Description: The “living” document that changed the world. One of the most revered, imitated, and controversial government documents in the world, the U.S. Constitution serves as the foundation for the American government and shapes the lives of Americans every day. But how many know its history and the impact it’s had on American laws and practices throughout history? This guide serves as the most current and accessible handbook to this all-important document. —Covers the document itself, as well as controversial interpretations and decisions.

 

Recommended Reading: Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover: 952 pages). Description: Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with an admirable thoroughness. James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Continued below...

It flows into a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic maneuvering by each side, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson's new views on such matters as Manifest Destiny, Popular Sovereignty, Sectionalism, and slavery expansion issues in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union's victory. The book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both the Northern and Southern views of the conflict. The South seceded in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark of American liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war, slavery, and adopt a policy of emancipation as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes the proudest legacy of America's bloodiest conflict. This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty. . Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.

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