Study Guide

Constitution - 15th Amendment

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15th Amendment

Passed by Congress: 26 February 1869
Ratified: 3 February 1870

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 the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The third and final of the "Civil War Amendments," the Fifteenth Amendment sought to guarantee that former slaves would retain the right to vote by banning state suffrage laws that discriminated against any group of citizens on the basis of race. In practice, the amendment didn't work very well; by the 1880s, most southern states had figured out ways to prevent blacks from voting using laws that did not explicitly use race as the standard for disfranchisement. Most black citizens in the South only regained the right to vote, in practice, in the 1960s.

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