Southern Voting Barriers

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The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed saying that every man would have the right to vote regardless of their race. It was meant to give the right to vote to the African American citizens. Even after this was passed however, states in the South were still able to find ways to keep African Americans from voting. It was easy to still deny their right to vote because the amendment only says that laws cannot be made making race a requirement for voting. The most effective barriers created by the South to prevent African Americans from voting were grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and white-only primaries because they were legal and therefore did not directly keep a certain race from voting. After the Fifteenth Amendment was passed the states in the South started to enact grandfather clauses which made it necessary for anyone who wanted to vote to show that before January 1, 1867, their ancestors were eligible vote (Corbin 43). This disqualified most, if not all blacks from voting because in the year 1866 they did not have the right to vote. If a person had no way of showing whether or not their relatives were able to vote in that year they would have to pass a literacy test (Pendergast et al. 306). Grandfather clauses were considered to be legal because it simply just made voting requirements that did not include race (Newman 77). Although for a while southern states were able to enforce grandfather clauses, eventually they were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1915 in the Guinn v. United States case. Even though grandfather clauses were no longer allowed, the literacy tests that came along with them were still considered to be legal (Pendergast et al. 307). A person would have to... ... middle of paper ... ...teenth Amendment was added to the Constitution to give African Americans the right to vote. It said that voting would not be restricted in any way due to race. States in the south however, were not very pleased with the passing of this amendment so they found ways to get around it. There were countless laws and regulations the states created in order to keep blacks from voting but the most effective were grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and white-only primaries. Works Cited Corbin, Carole L. Issues in American History: The Right Vote. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985. Hay, Jeff, Amendment XV Race and The Right to Vote. New York: Christine Nasso, 2009. Newman, Roger K., The Constitution and Its Amendments. Vol. 4. New York: MacMillan Reference, 1999. Pendergast, Tom, Sara Pendergast, and John Sousanis. Constitutional Amendments. Vol. 2. Detroit: UXL, 2001.

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