The 15th Amendment 1868

Extending the right to vote to African Americans was a revolutionary idea, even in free states. When the 15th Amendment was ratified, blacks were denied the vote in 11 of the 21 non-confederate states and most of the border states. The 15th Amendment was carefully worded to maximize its chances of ratification. It did not go so far as to grant the right to vote to all citizens regardless of race. Instead, it barred states from denying suffrage based on race, opening a large loophole for literacy, land ownership, or other requirements. It was a loophole that Southern states quickly exploited to effectively ban all blacks from the polls, and that wasn’t rectified until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.