When the United States became a nation, the constitution only allowed white men who owned property to vote. In 1870, 150 years ago this year, the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men the right to vote. It would be 50 years later when all women were given the vote by the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, 100 years ago this year.
Even though the constitution allowed it, blacks faced a difficult time trying to vote. They were forced to pass tests on the constitution or pay poll taxes in order to vote. Many were injured or killed trying to exercise their right to vote. It wasn't until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, that efforts were made to enforce the amendments allowing blacks to vote.
The voting age was 21 until 1971. During the Vietnam war young men were being drafted to serve in the army at 18 years of age. The argument was made that if young men could be drafted to fight for their country, that they also ought to be able to vote at 18. The 26th amendment was passed in 1971 to allow all citizens 18 or older to be able to vote.
Below are resources that will help in researching the history of our right to vote.
Gives an analysis of all the amendments connecting with voting and also a look at the entire constitution.
Information about the Black woman's struggle to win the vote
Women's Suffrage in General
These search terms will yield articles on the acts and amendments of the constitution that made voting legal for everyone. Search GALILEO using the following search terms: 15th amendment, 19th amendment,
Voting Rights Act of 1965, 26th amendment .
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