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Joint Resolution proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, February 26, 1869

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869, and ratified by three-fourths of the states on February 3, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment granted African-American males the right to vote. The amendment was only the beginning of the struggle for voting rights. Over the next century many blacks were denied the right to vote by a series of state laws, fraud and intimidation. It was not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent legislation that African Americans were assured of their right to participate in U.S. elections.

Records of the United States Government, National Archives and Records Administration

Joint Resolution proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Legislative Highlights

The U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power…To make all Laws.” The original laws enacted by Congress are preserved at the National Archives. This page highlights some of the most historically significant laws Congress has passed throughout the nation’s history.