Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

(1870)

The Fifteenth Amendment (1870) was the third and last amendment adopted in the era immediately following the Civil War. For the first time in American history, it prohibited states from denying the right to vote to individuals on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Section 2 of the amendment further vested Congress with power to enforce it.

The Fifteenth Amendment bears elements of both continuity and discontinuity with earlier American history. Consistent with earlier history, it did not make voting an affirmative right for African Americans or other citizens, but rather it prohibited denying or abridging such groups the right to vote. Because it was the first specific prohibition to be incorporated into the Constitution, it served as a model for the Nineteenth Amendment (1920), which prohibited similar denials based on sex, and the Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971), which prohibited such denials to those who were eighteen years of age or older.

...
Image for: Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Fifteenth Amendment (National Archives and Records Administration)

View Full Size