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The Georgetown elections - the Negro at the ballot-box / Th. Nast. New and becoming styles of head-dressing.

1 print : wood engraving. | Illustration showing at top of page, several men at a polling place where an African American man places his ballot in the box for "Re[publ]ican Mayor Welch" which is next to the empty ballot box for "The White Mans Ticket for Mayor H. Addison". President Andrew Johnson is standing on the left, holding his "Suffrage Veto", additional "Veto[s]" are stuffed into his coat pocket, a man labeled "Ex. C.S.A." stands next to him. On the bottom, a woman is holding a child on top of her head, with four vignette views of "new" hairstyles.

Nast, Thomas
Library of Congress

Nast, Thomas, Artist. The Georgetown elections - the Negro at the ballot-box / Th. Nast.New and becoming styles of head-dressing. , 1867. Photograph.

Reconstruction was a time of great highs and great lows for newly-free Black Americans. Though they faced extreme violence and discrimination from white Americans at many points, African-Americans continued to demand equal treatment and opportunity. One of the most important ways they succeeded was by voting in local, state, and federal elections. Why do you think voting is so important? Why might some white Americans have wanted to stop Black Americans from voting? How is voting an act of freedom?

This sketch comes from a newspaper from 1867, even before states ratified the 15th Amendment (1870) protecting the right to vote for all citizens, regardless of race. Note that women, though citizens, were not allowed to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The man pictured in this drawing was one of a record number of African-American voters who asserted his right to join the electorate. This sketch from Georgetown indicated that congressional jurisdiction over Washington, D.C. (a federal district) successfully protected voting rights. Beginning in 1867-68, the Military Reconstruction Act meant that the U.S. military districts established in the former Confederate states protected African-Americans’ access to the voting ballot in the South. Some states elsewhere in the country established race-neutral voting laws prior to the 15th Amendment, which went into effect in 1870.

172. Harper's Weekly March 16, 1867. Suffrage Veto. Ex CSA Republican Mayor Welch The White Mans Ticket for Mayor H. Addison The GEORGETOWN ELECTION-THE NEGRO AT THE BALLOT-BOX.-[See Page 162.] Th Nast NEW AND BECOMING STYLES OF HEAD-DRESSES