Voting Rights Timeline Tina LI


1776: Abigail Adams asks the Continental Congress to support women's rights.

April 14, 1776

Abigail Adams asked John Adams to support women’s right shortly before America declared its independence. However, he replied to his wife on April 14, 1776, stating that it would not be considered. He said that the bands of Government were loosen due to their revolution. Children and apprentices were disobedient, Indians slighted their guardians and Black slaves grew insolent to their Masters. His wife’s letter told him that women, a powerful group of people, were grown discontented. The petition was very saucy in John Adams’ eyes and he would not repeal the masculine systems. This is important in the history of voting rights, because it showed American Government’s attitude towards women’s rights which forbid women to take part in political activities due to prejudice and discrimination.

1776: The Vote is Limited to White Males of Property

May 26, 1776

John Adams was writing a letter to James Sullivan explaining why changing the requirement to vote would be so controversial. He wrote this shortly after the American Revolution and before the signing of the US Constitution. He stated that women, and poor men would soon want the right to vote and believed that the qualification to vote should not be changed. This is important to voting because it established who could vote and who could not. Also it gave some groups access to power that others did not have.

1787: U.S. Constitution Adopted

September 17, 1787

There were intense arguments over who shall be allowed to vote when debating for the content of the U.S. Constitution. The slave states, in particular, did not want blacks to have the rights to vote. The Constitutional Convention could not determine a national voting rights standard, so they allowed each state to make its own. Most of the states decided that only white males who owned a certain amount of property could vote, so the majority, about 90%, could not vote. This is important in the history of voting rights because this was the first formal announcement that showed who could vote for the nation. Also, this foreshadowed the following fight for voting rights.

1867: 14th Amendment extends citizenship to Blacks.

July 9, 1868

14th Amendment required all states recognize Black males as citizens, which was a fruitful outcome of the Civil War and the effort of African-American right fighters. They were to be respected as normal citizens. However, women in either race still did not have full citizenship. The 14th Amendment is important in the history of voting rights because it is a great step toward the 15th Amendment which guarantees voting right.

1870: 15th Amendment extends vote to Blacks

Mar 30, 1870

15 Amendment was passed by congress on March 30, It gave black male right to vote though there was massive and violent resistance to the intent of the 15th Amendment, especially in the Southern states. However, Native-Americans, Asians and Mexican-Americans in most of the states were still prohibited to vote. It is important in the history of US voting rights because it is the first time that freed blacks have right to vote and pursue what they want. Also, it is a good start for the nation to accept other former prohibited groups of people to vote.

1920: 19th Amendment extends right to vote to women

August 26, 1920

After a hard 72 year struggle since the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls which demanded that women be granted all rights as full citizens including the right to vote, women finally own the right to vote through the adoption of 19th Amendment in 1920. It was a fruitful outcome of 72 years of petitioning and protesting of both women and some of the men. However, prejudice and discrimination against women still exist in the society even until now. It is important because women, a group of people who have made huge contribution to the nation, were finally given right to make decisions for the country. They could walk outside of houses and realised their life goals.

1964: 24th Amendment ends poll taxes

January 23, 1964

The ratification of the 24th Amendment in 1964 prohibits poll taxes in federal elections. This eliminated the economic factor that might be in the way of the use of the voting right. People no matter what their economic status are are able to vote for the leader they want to guide the nation. This is important in the history of voting right because it is also a step towards the further elimination of limitation for citizens to vote.

1971: 26th Amendment lowers voting age to 18

July 1, 1971

U.S. government started to drag young people under 21 to fight in the Vietnam war, but did not give them right to vote. This agitated young people in America to protest the military draft and to fight for their right to vote. The voting age was then lowered to equal the draft age, though anti-war protests and draft resistance continued. It is important because the young blood finally have a place to decide the future of the nation. After that, young people showed strong influence to the nation’s politics like President Obama’s election.

1975: Extension of Voting Rights Act to "Language Minorities."

August 6, 1975

The Voting Rights Act was originally passed in 1965 to guarantee that most of the citizens in America have the right to vote. It was expanded in 1975 to address voting rights of "language minorities.” President Gerald R. Ford amended the act based on the acknowledgement that language minorities who spoke languages other than English were discriminated and did not have voting rights. This is important because the amendment of the act provided protection for the minorities of American citizens. It is a big step before all kinds of people in America have the rights to help decide the future of their nation.