What is the 15th Amendment?
The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. Now, this 15th Amendment granted black men the right to vote. It passed because confederate states were forced to comply based on the Military Reconstruction Act. The Military Reconstruction Act was passed a few years prior by Congress despite President Johnson’s veto. And so this put the confederate states under military control to aid in the process of reconstruction of the southern states being joined together again with the northern states. And so as part of the Military Reconstruction Act they had to pass the 15th Amendment. And women’s rights activists also opposed the amendment because it granted the right to vote to males only. So you can see how much opposition and tension there was with the 15th Amendment because women rights activists opposed it as well as these confederate and southern states who had a lot of prejudice against blacks. And so really only through the Military Reconstruction Act could the 15th Amendment most likely come about.
Now women also wanted the right to vote – or these women’s rights activists wanted the right to vote as well and so that didn’t come about until the 19th Amendment which came about much later. And so they opposed it because this amendment was making this the right to vote a male right only. Because although it was giving it to blacks instead of now it wasn’t before it was just a white male right and now it was cutting across cultural lines and so now no longer was it a right of one ethnicity but it was still just the right of one gender. And so the push for women’s rights eventually resulted in the 19th Amendment.
But here we’re just focusing on the 15th Amendment and this was the last of three very historic amendments in the U.S. relating to reconstruction. Now that’s the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. And these had a huge impact on life in the U.S. because they put an end to the era of slavery, and were the first steps on giving freedom and equal rights to black people at the state and national levels.