United States v. Cruikshank

(1876)

Context

In the five years following the end of the Civil War, Congress adopted several measures that together removed race as a barrier to African Americans’ right to vote. The change was piecemeal in approach but revolutionary in impact. In March and July 1867 and March 1868, the Reconstruction Acts provided for the enfranchisement of African Americans so as to allow them to participate in fresh elections to establish new state constitutions in ten former Confederate states. African Americans also won election as delegates to these conventions, and the ten state constitutions that eventually emerged from this process secured their right to vote. In July 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship for former slaves and equal protection under the law for all, and, while recognizing that the right of suffrage remained one reserved to the states, it provided that a state’s representation in the House of Representatives would be reduced in proportion to the state’s...

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Morrison R. Waite (Library of Congress)

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