15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
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
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.
Congress Web Site | External Web
Sites | Selected
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
Search this collection in the 40th Congress using keywords such
as "suffrage", "amendment" and "constitution"
to find additional legislative information on the 15th Amendment.
After conducting a search look for references to Senate
Joint Resolution 8, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States, which is often referred to as S.
R. No. 8 or S. R. 8.
American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray
The Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900.
this collection using the words "suffrage"
to find additional documents related to African Americans
and voting rights.
American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides
and Other Printed Ephemera
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history
Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection,
This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.
this collection using the word "suffrage" to
retrieve over twenty documents on this topic.
This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836-1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the 15th Amendment.
A selection of articles on the 15th Amendment includes:
- "The Fifteenth Amendment," Daily National Republican. (Washington City, D.C.), March 31, 1870.
- "At Last! The Fifteenth Amendment. The Law of the Land." The Evening Telegraph. (Philadelphia, Pa.), March 31, 1870.
- "The Fifteenth Amendment: Message of the President in Full," The Charleston Daily News. (Charleston, S.C.), April 2, 1870.
- "The Fifteenth Amendment. Rejoicing at its Ratification." Evening Star. (Washington, D.C.), April 2, 1870
- "The Fifteenth Amendment: Thanksgiving Services," New-York Tribune. (New York, N.Y.), April 4, 1870.
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (popularly known as the Constitution Annotated) contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic. It includes a chapter on the 15th Amendment. (PDF, 250 KB)
Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This exhibition showcases the African American collections
of the Library of Congress. Displays more than 240 items,
including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps,
musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. Contains
a section on Reconstruction that
includes a picture from Harper's Weekly entitled "The
Treasures of the Library of Congress - The Fifteenth
Contains a lithograph of a parade in Baltimore, Maryland,
celebrating the 15th Amendment on May 19, 1870.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
This exhibition, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement, as well as the far-reaching impact the act had on a changing society.
The Selma-to-Montgomery March for African American voting
rights began on March 7, 1965. On the outskirts of Selma
the marchers, in plain sight of photographers and journalists,
were brutally assaulted by heavily armed state troopers
Rights: The Creation of the Fifteenth Amendment, HarpWeek
from Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation,
1861-1867, University of Maryland
The Fifteenth Amendment, National Constitution Center
Landmark Legislation: Thirteenth, Fourteenth, & Fifteenth Amendments, U.S. Senate
Documents, 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
National Archives and Records Administration
Equality: Harper’s Weekly Reports on Black America,
Avins, Alfred, comp. The Reconstruction Amendments' Debates: The Legislative History and Contemporary Debates in Congress on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Richmond: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, 1967. [Catalog
Darling, Marsha J. Tyson, ed. Race,
Voting, Redistricting, and the Constitution: Sources
and Explorations on the Fifteenth
Amendment. New York: Routledge. [Catalog
Gillette, William. The Right to Vote:
Politics and the Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Press, 1969. [Catalog
Hay, Jeff, ed. Amendment XV: Race and the Right to Vote. Farmington Hills, Mich: Greenhaven Press, 2009. [Catalog
Maltz, Earl M. Civil Rights, the
Constitution, and Congress, 1863-1869. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas,
Mathews, John Mabry. Legislative
and Judicial History of the Fifteenth Amendment. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1909. [Catalog
Record] [Full Text]
Banfield, Susan. The Fifteenth Amendment:
African-American Men's Right to Vote. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers,
Burgan, Michael. The Reconstruction Amendments. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006. [Catalog