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Congressional supporters of black voting argued that without the vote, freedmen and their families would bereduced to a state of servitude not unlike slavery. Others within the Republican Party recognized the votingstrength that blacks represented for the party in the South. Now that slavery had ended, freedpeople wereenumerated by the census as individuals and this increased the South’s representation in the House. Assuming that most white southerners would vote Democratic, black voting was necessary for Republicansto maintain power. Finally, there were those who believed that by giving blacks the right to vote, it wouldrelieve whites of further responsibility toward blacks or the perceived need some whites had to protectblacks. There was concerted opposition from some quarters when the question arose whether Congress hadthe constitutional authority to enact legislation regarding voting. Formerly, the states had the power todetermine who could vote. But proponents pointed to the overall principle instilled in the Constitution that a“republican form of government” must prevail in every state and in the nation.
Print published in 1870 celebrating thepassing of the 15th AmendmentOf course, this led to the question of female representation in the body politic. On that issue male officeholders decided against woman suffrage. Females were protected, they said, by the men in their families whowere voters. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton again raised objections, only to be told byabolitionist Frederick Douglass that this was “the Negro’s hour.” The consequence of women losing thisdebate led in 1869 to the formation of two woman suffrage associations; the American Woman SuffrageAssociation (AWSA) organized by Lucy Stone; and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA)founded by Anthony and Stanton. They split over differences of strategy: the AWSA favored a state-by-statecampaign to win women the right to vote, while the NWSA sought a federal amendment. The AWSAfocused primarily on women’s right to vote. The NWSA believed that issues of discrimination againstwomen in society and the law went further and deeper than simply suffrage. They competed against oneanother until 1890, when the two merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association(NAWSA), where they sought both state and federal action.In 1870, the nation ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, which declared that a citizen’s right to vote “shall notbe denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition ofservitude.”
United States HistoryReconstruction in the SouthCarpetbaggers and ScalawagsCartoon of carpetbaggers headingSouth after the warAmong those eligible to hold office in the South were freedmen and Union supporters, either native whitesoutherners or northerners who came to the South to begin businesses or eventually to enter politics. Knownas “Scalawags” and “Carpetbaggers,” Republican whites in the South made up the majority of the states’assemblies during Congressional Reconstruction.