Graphic of part of the Emancipation Proclamation
Rights and POwer: The POlitics of Reconstruction
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"The Fifteenth Amendment," 1870.
(Chicago Historical Society)

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In addition to voting rights, this colorful print celebrates the rights of blacks to run for political office, own land, and worship freely. Its heroes include Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and John Brown.

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Ratified in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment prohibited states from abridging the right to vote because of race, although it allowed other restrictions based on education, property and sex to remain in effect.

The Fifteenth Amendment declared that the right to vote could not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It did not explicitly guarantee the right to hold office or serve on juries; nor did it ensure federal protection of voting rights.

Nevertheless, at a time when only seven northern states allowed blacks to vote, the Fifteenth Amendment represented a significant step toward legal equality.

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he Meaning of Freedom: Black and White Responses to Slavery From Free Labor to Slave Labor Rights and Power: The Politics of Reconstruction The Ending of Reconstruction Epilogue: The Unfinished Revolution Additional Resources Credits for this Exhibit Link to return to Digital History Home Link to return to Reconstruction Home Introduction