Suffrage in America: The 15th and 19th Amendments

Parade surrounded by portraits of Black life, illustrating rights granted by the 15th amendment. Library of Congress.
Image of a parade celebrating the passage of the 15th Amendment, 1870.

Library of Congress, Cartoon Prints Collection.

The right to vote (also known as suffrage) is an important part of our democracy. Throughout history, different groups were prevented from taking part in the voting process. At one point, women, people of color, and immigrants could not vote. People without money, property, or an education were also barred from voting.

Several amendments were added to the Constitution to recognize suffrage rights of certain groups. Ratified in 1870, the 15th Amendment recognized the voting rights of African American men. Fifty years later, Congress and the states ratified the 19th Amendment. This amendment recognized the suffrage rights of women.

Even though half a century passed between the ratification of the 15th and 19th Amendments, they are very similar. Discover the connection between these two amendments. Learn about how different marginalized groups fought for suffrage rights.

Stories of Suffrage

  • Black and red button,
    Whose Voice is Heard?

    In the United States, people have long fought to have their voices heard. One way of doing this is through voting.

  • African American waiting in line to cast their ballots.
    The Fifteenth Amendment

    When the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865, it abolished slavery. But African Americans still lacked many rights, such as the right to vote.

  • Black and white photo of women picketing near Capitol Building, Library of Congress.
    The Nineteenth Amendment

    The 19th Amendment recognized the right of women to vote. Learn more about these suffrage stories.

  • Purple Banner with motto of Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women's Clubs
    Between Two Worlds

    During the 19th and 20th centuries, Black women played an active role in the struggle for universal suffrage.

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left) and Susan B. Anthony (right)
    Comrades in Conflict

    The struggle for voting rights involved a split between abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

  • Women celebrating by waving American flags and blowing horns.
    Celebrations of Success

    After the ratification of the 15th and 19th Amendments, the law recognized that discrimination based on race and sex is illegal.

  • African Americans protesting and holding signs. LOC.
    What’s Next?

    Learn about the fight for voting rights after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Last updated: April 3, 2019


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