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The following 7 ratifications were received after the certificate of adoption was issued on July 20, 1868:


Georgia (after rejection Nov. 10, 1866); also Feb. 2, 1870.

Virginia (after rejection Jan. 9, 1867).

Mississippi (with 15th Amendment)..

Jul. 13, 1868.

Jul. 21, 1868.
Oct. 8, 1869.

Jan. 17, 1870.

Texas (after rejection Oct. 27, 1866) with 13th and 15th Amend- Feb. 18, 1870. ments..

Delaware (after rejection Feb. 6/8, 1867)

Maryland (after rejection by Senate Mar. 23, 1867)..

Feb. 12, 1901.

Apr. 4, 1959.

May 6, 1959.

The Governor of Kentucky on January 10, 1866, transmitted two copies of a resolution by which the Senate and House rejected the proposal on January 8, 1867.

The Fourteenth Amendment appears officially as 15 Stat. 706707.


1. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session, 1866, 36.2: 1367. 2. Howard, Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857, (Washington, D.C.: GPO).

3. Richardson, Messages and Papers, VI: 405-441.

4. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session, 1866, 36.2: 1857-61.

5. Ibid., 3559.

6. Ibid., 36.1: 6.

7. Joseph B. James, The Framing of the Fourteenth Amendment, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956), 37: 220 pages.

8. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session, 1866, 36.3: 2265.

9. Ibid., 36.1: 10.

10. Ibid., 14.

11. Ibid., 806, 813, 1033, 2979.

12. Ibid., 2nd Session, 1866, 37.3: 1976.

13. Ibid., 40th Congress, 2nd Session, 1868, 39.5: 4270.


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.


Throughout the framing of the Fourteenth Amendment, several proposals made in Congress called for universal suffrage for blacks. For instance, Senator John Henderson of Missouri introduced an amendment that read "No state, in prescribing the qualifications requisite for electors therein, shall descriminate against any person on account of color or race." Another proposal, by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, stated, "No denial of rights, civil or political, on account of color or race.' ."2 In addition, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction introduced H.J. Res. 51 (39th Cong.): Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union according to their respective number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed: Provided, that whenever the elective franchise shall be denied or abridged in any State on account of race or color shall be excluded from the basis of representation.3

Each of these proposals for Negro suffrage was defeated in Congress, primarily due to public opposition in both the North and the South. On May 23, 1866, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction issued a report wherein they stated:

The committee were of the opinion that the States are not yet prepared to sanction so fundamental a change as would be the concession of the right to suffrage to the colored race. We may as well state it plainly and fairly, so that there shall be no misunderstanding on the subject. It was our opinion that three-fourths of the States of this Union could not be induced to vote to grant the right of suffrage, even in any degree or under any restriction, to the colored race.5

As a compromise measure during the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress had agreed on a modified version of H.J. Res. 51 that deleted "race and color." In addition, a provision was inserted that reduced a State's representation in Congress in proportion to the number of eligible males denied the right to vote within the State. This compromise ultimately became Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twentyone years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged except of participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall

be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

This section of the Fourteenth Amendment was never enforced. As a result, it proved to do little forward insuring voluntary enfranchisement of the blacks.

Although the sentiments of both the public and President Johnson remained steadfast in opposition to Negro suffrage, Congress continued attempts to enact legislation guaranteeing blacks the right to vote. After numerous Republican victories in the congressional elections of 1866, Congress enacted a bill granting suffrage to blacks in the District of Columbia. In enacting this legislation, Congress was successful in overriding a veto by President Johnson, and the bill became law on December 13, 1866.

On January 10, 1867, Congress passed similar legislation that franchised the Negroes living in the Federal Territories. In addition, Congress passed a bill stipulating enfranchisement of Negroes as a condition of statehood for the Nebraska Territory." On March 2, 1867, the most critical legislation of the 39th Congress regarding the Negro vote was enacted. It was written in the Section 5 of the Reconstruction Act, requiring Negro suffrage as conditional for readmittance of Confederate States to the Union and the reseating of their representatives in Congress. After the passage of these several bills, the only areas of the country where the Negro vote had not been legislated were the Northern and border States.


As more and more of the Southern States gained readmittance into the Union, the "Radical Republicans" grew increasingly fearful that their ability to influence the Reconstruction would soon diminish. The 1868 elections saw Ulysses Grant, a Republican, gain only a narrow victory, while the Democrats gained several seats in Congress. Supporters of universal suffrage for blacks realized that time was short for their efforts to accomplish their goal in the form of the Fifteenth Amendment.


On March 7, 1868, Senator John P. Henderson introduced S.J. Res. 8 (40th Cong.), which stated, "No State shall deny or abridge the right of its citizens to vote and hold office on account of race, color, or previous condition." The resolution was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 15, 1869, with a recommendation that it be amended to read, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Committee also recommended a provision authorizing Congress to enforce the amendment with appropriate legislation. The Resolution was then referred to the Committee of the Whole, where it was approved without further amendment on January, 28.


At the same time the Senate was considering S.J. Res. 8, the House of Representatives was taking action on a similar measure, H.J. Res. 402. The House Resolution was reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee on January 11, 1869.10 On January 28 and 29, the resolution was debated on the House floor; it passed,

virtually unamended, 150 to 42, 31 not voting.11 The House Resolution read:

SECTION 1. The right of any citizen of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of race, color, or previous condition of slavery of any citizen or class of citizens of the United States.

SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article. 12

The House Resolution was received in the Senate and debated in the Committee of the Whole on February 3-6, 8, 9, as well as on the Senate floor on February 9.13 As a result of the committee and floor debates, the Senate substituted its own version for Section 1 of the House proposal and amended it to read, "No discrimination shall be made in any State among the citizens of the United States in the exercise of the elective franchise or in the right to hold office in any State on account of race, color, nativity, property, education, or creed." The Senate also added to the Resolution a provision calling for the popular election of presidential electors. On February 9, 1869, the Senate passed its amended version, 39 to 16, 11 not voting.14

After floor debate, the House voted to reject the amended Resolution, 133 to 52 (52 not voting), and called for a conference.15 Back in the Senate, a motion to insist on its amendments, while still agreeing to a conference, was made and withdrawn. In addition, a motion to adopt the House version was rejected. Finally, the Senate agreed to a motion to consider further S.J. Res. 8 and on February 17 passed the measure as originally reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, January 15, 1869. The House then considered this proposal on February 20, and amended the first section to protect the franchise and the right to hold office from abridgement by any "State, on account of race, color, nativity, property, creed, or previous condition of servitude." Subsequently, the House passed its newly amended version of the Senate proposal, 140 to 37, 46 not voting. 16

A conference was then appointed, which reported out the final version of what would become the Fifteenth Amendment. It was identical to the version which the Senate Judiciary Committee had originally reported, except that the words "and to hold office" were eliminated. The Conference Report was accepted in both Houses, but not before a debate occurred in the Senate over the deletion of "and to hold office." The Report passed in the House by a vote of 144 to 44, 35 not voting, and in the Senate, 39 to 13, 14 not voting. 17


When the Fifteenth Amendment was approved by Congress, the Union consisted of 37 States. Consequently, 28 States would be required to ratify the Amendment for it to become part of the Constitution. It was sent to the States on February 27, 1869. Several States ratified the Amendment immediately, Nevada being the first on March 1, 1869. The 28th State to ratify was Iowa, on February 3, 1870. On January 5, 1870, New York attempted to withdraw its ratification; however, shortly thereafter on February 18, Nebraska ratified. Nebraska's ratification helped to quiet the contro

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