What makes you better than me?

The fifteen amendement as mentioned in Foner’s book was the amendment that prohibited both the state and federal governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This meant that no matter what ethnicity, color of skin, or job (i.e. slavery) you had previous held, you were allowed to vote. However, there were flaws and loopholes to this amendment that became evident quickly. Even though the government was not allowed to deny you the right to vote- they did whatever they could to make voting almost impossible for ¬†African Americans. States put into effect poll taxes which many African Americans could not afford to pay. Some states even went as far as creating literacy test that one would have to pass before being able to cast a vote. Due to lack of education, the passing rate on these tests for African Americans was very little. Literacy tests and poll taxes were two of the most extreme ways the government tried to deny suffrage to the African American people. Nevertheless, one would have to argue that the biggest flaw with the 15th Amendment was that it completely excluding women. There was no mention of voting right for women in the 15th Amendment whatsoever.

Women all over the country fought long and hard to gain the right to vote. It was in Aug. 1920 that the 19th Amendment went into effect. It gave women the right to vote in the United States.

In a short term view of things (prior to 1877) neither African Americans nor women got very far when it came to voting rights. There was no laws passed to prohibit states from administrating literacy tests or charging ¬†poll taxes, and any womens effort to gain equal rights was dismissed and not even looked upon seriously. In these years, most people viewed the job of a women to be at home, and therefore a woman having the right to vote didn’t seem like a necessity, but more of a privilege.

Nonetheless, in the long run the United States government did finally get it right. The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned poll taxes, and literacy tests along with any other means that were used to prevent African Americans from going to cast their votes. Furthermore, the 19th Amendment added to the Constitution in 1920, granted women the right to vote. Today, as long as a person is an American citizen and 18 years or older, they are able to register themselves to vote and cast their ballot.

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