Suffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race, and Voting Rights in the Civil War Era

TitleSuffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race, and Voting Rights in the Civil War Era
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFree, Laura E.
Number of Pages235
PublisherCornell University Press
CityIthaca, NY

This book takes readers into the pre- and postwar fights before and after the American Civil War over the question who should have the right to vote. It demonstrates that all men, black and white, were the ultimate victors of these fights, as gender became the single most important marker of voting rights during Reconstruction. It argues that the Fourteenth Amendment's language was shaped by three key groups: African American activists who used ideas about manhood to claim black men's right to the ballot, postwar congressmen who sought to justify enfranchising southern black men, and women’s rights advocates who began to petition Congress for the ballot for the first time as the Amendment was being drafted. By integrating gender analysis and political history, the book offers a new interpretation of the Civil War–era remaking of American democracy, placing African American activists and women’s rights advocates at the heart of nineteenth-century American conversations about public policy, civil rights, and the franchise.

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