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15th Amendment, 1871

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This political cartoon from 1871 shows President Grant signing the 15th Amendment surrounded by civil rights leaders of the day.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, 15th Amendment, 1871


This political cartoon was published in 1871. In the center, President Ulysses Grant signs the 15th Amendment which stated that the right to vote could not be denied to anyone on the basis of race or color. Surrounding the center portrait are several vignettes depicting African-Americans participating in civic life.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • In the center of the cartoon, President Grant signs the 15th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote for black men. Surrounding that image are smaller drawings showing African-Americans in military service, at school, on the farm, and voting. How do these images depict a change in the civil rights of African-Americans?
  • The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. Women didn’t win the right to vote until 1920 when another Amendment was added to the Constitution. The right to vote was granted through amending the Constitution, a very difficult and lengthy process, rather than by Congress passing a law. What does that tell you about the importance of voting as a civil right in the United States?

Citation Information

The Fifteenth Amendment. Savannah, Ga.: Published by C. Rogan. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.