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Voting Guide: The History of Your Right to Vote

Learn about the history of voting in the United States, and how to exercise your right to vote!

Your Right to Vote

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. 

Books and E-Books

Useful Websites

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) Voting Rights

Gives an analysis of all the amendments connecting with voting and also a look at the entire constitution.

Interactive Constitution

US Constitution Annotated

Information about the Black woman's struggle to win the vote

National Association of Colored Women

African-American Leaders in the Suffrage Movement

Between Two Worlds

Women's Suffrage in General

Women's Suffrage Movement

Women's Suffrage - the US movement

Photo Gallery

Harper's Weekly 15th Amendment Image

Harper's Weekly 15th Amendment Image

Image credit Library of Congress

Women's Suffrage Procession

Women's Suffrage Procession

Image credit Library of Congress

Ready to  vote

Ready to vote

Image credit Library of Congress

Black Women Voting

Black Women Voting

Image credit: Library of Congress

Counting the vote

Counting the vote

Image credit Library of Congress

15th Amendment Text

Fifteenth Amendment Text

image credit ourdocuments.gov

19th Amendment Text

19th Amendment Text

image credit ourdocuments.gov

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Voting Rights Act of 1965

image credit ourdocuments.gov

26th Amendment Text

26th Amendment Text

image credit ourdocuments.gov

Articles From GALILEO

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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