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15th Amendment Lithograph

Politics

On May 19, 1870, Black citizens of Baltimore held a massive parade to celebrate the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which declared that states could not deny the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The amendment was one of several sweeping changes to federal law passed during Reconstruction to provide equal rights of citizenship for African Americans. The state of Maryland, which had sided with the Union during the Civil War but did not abolish slavery until 1864, did not ratify the 15th Amendment until 1973, over a century after it went to the states for approval.