U.S. Grant Urges Iowans to Approve Suffrage for Black Men

The following was passed along by ECW’s friend William Underhill, one of the stalwart keeper’s of Ulysses S. Grant’s flame as a member of the Friends of Grant Cottage, the organization that staffs the site where Grant died in upstate New York.

The Iowa State Weekly Register published an interview with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on Nov. 4, 1868. In the interview, Grant expressed himself as being particularly solicitous about the success of impartial suffrage in Iowa. 

He said he “hoped the people of Iowa, whose soldiers achieved such immortal renown in the field, would be the first state to carry impartial suffrage through unfalteringly.” It had gone down in other states, but he “trusted that Iowa, the bright radical star, would proclaim by its action in November that the North is consistent with itself and willing to voluntarily accept what its Congress had made a necessity in the South. The Negro race, by their devotion in the war, by their faithfulness when all others were faithless, had nobly earned the possession of their deprived rights and surely should have it before the white rebels whom they helped to subdue.”

In the general election of 1868, Iowa did as Grant predicted and became the first state outside New England to grant black men the right to vote. Minnesota also made it legal for black men to vote in 1868. These victories in Iowa and Minnesota preceded the 15th Amendment, which prohibited denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified by Iowa on Feb. 3, 1870.


2 Responses to U.S. Grant Urges Iowans to Approve Suffrage for Black Men

  1. Iowa was not the first state outside New England to grant the right to vote to black men. Tennessee granted the right to vote to African American males in 1867 and was the fifth state in the nation to do so.

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