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Tue, 02.08.1898

The “Grandfather Clause” is Enacted

*On this date in 1898, the “Grandfather Clause” was enacted for voter suppression purposes.

The Grandfather Clause was a legal or constitutional mechanism passed by seven Southern states during Reconstruction to deny suffrage to Blacks. It meant that those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1867, or their lineal descendants, would be exempt from educational, property, or tax requirements for voting.  As a result, even if they met all the requirements, they were not allowed to vote.

Because the former slaves were not granted that right until the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, these clauses worked effectively to exclude Blacks from voting and assured the vote of many impoverished and illiterate whites. In 1915 the Supreme Court declared the grandfather clause unconstitutional because it violated equal voting rights guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment.


Historic U.S. Cases 1690-1993:
An Encyclopedia New York
Copyright 1992 Garland Publishing, New York
ISBN 0-8240-4430-4

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