Passing the 15th Amendment

Opinion writers who say “we’ve never had an incoming president this openly racist and sexist” are not historians, and are not thinking further back than maybe the late 1970s. Considering how crap a lot of the past was, that’s not the cheeriest reassurance, but here’s something I’ve tried to keep in mind.

When the 15th amendment passed, neither most African Americans nor most women could vote, none of them were in Congress, and several northern states had recently voted against black male suffrage in their legislatures (wanting to free the slaves didn’t mean wanting blacks at your political gatherings, ew.) It was a time when the economy was not great; a time when people in power were frightened about what might be taken away from them.

The “radicals” won anyway, because we are VERY PERSUASIVE.

The 15th Amendment passed the all-white, all-male House of Representatives 144-44, and the all-white, all-male Senate 39-13. It was then ratified by 28 states, including Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. It wasn’t easy, it certainly wasn’t inevitable, and it didn’t get us to where we needed to be. But it was pretty impressive, no? Makes all this seem less daunting.

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