Don't Know Much

Who Said It (4/26/18)


[The] 15th amendment ...constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came into life.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and became law. It gave the vote to black men.

Ulysses S. Grant
Special Message
March 30, 1870
To the Senate and House of Representatives:


Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

….  I repeat that the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution completes the greatest civil change and constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came into life. The change will be beneficial in proportion to the heed that is given to the urgent recommendations of Washington. If these recommendations were important then, with a population of but a few millions, how much more important now, with a population of 40,000,000, and increasing in a rapid ratio. I would therefore call upon Congress to take all the means within their constitutional powers to promote and encourage popular education throughout the country, and upon the people everywhere to see to it that all who possess and exercise political rights shall have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the Government a blessing and not a danger. By such means only can the benefits contemplated by this amendment to the Constitution be secured.

Source: Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

In 1874, in his Sixth Message to Congress, Grant also said:

Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain, and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle.

Read more about that message in this post.

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822. Read a brief biography here. He died on July 23, 1885. His body was later entombed in New York City and Grant’s Tomb is a National Parks Service National Memorial.

An illustration of blacks in line to vote. Harper’s Weekly Magazine. Source: PBS American Experience

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