March 30

March 30, 1870 – The 15th Amendment Adopted

On March 30, 1870 the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted giving African American men the right to vote.

Thomas Mundy Peterson

Thomas Mundy Peterson of Perth Amboy, New Jersey was the first African American to vote after the adoption of the 15th Amendment. Peterson exercised his right to vote on March 31, 1870.

The 15th Amendments rights while still tangible on paper were short lived in reality.  Towards the end of the nineteenth century going into the next century, the builders of racist intimidation had disenfranchised African American male voters through a foundation of state laws in which the South perfected keeping African Americans from voting with literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses and other discriminatory practices. African Americans  were not only challenged by the laws, but they also faced real physical threats from white hate groups if they tried to vote.

Waud - 1867 - The First Vote

African Americans vote for the first time, as depicted in 1867 on the cover of Harper’s magazine. Engraving by Alfred R. Waud.