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Amendment XXIII

Amendment XXIII

Section 1.The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.Section 2.The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed June 16, 1960. Ratified April 3, 1961.


See Table of Amendments.


All Amendments to the US Constitution

Even before the U.S. Constitution was created, its framers understood that it would have to be amended to confront future challenges and adapt and grow alongside the new nation. In creating the amendment process for what would become the permanent U.S. Constitution, the framers made constitutional reform easier𠅋ut not too easy.

According to Article V of the Constitution, an amendment must either be proposed by Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of state legislatures. Either way, a proposed amendment only becomes part of the Constitution when ratified by legislatures or conventions in three-fourths of the states (38 of 50 states).

Since the Constitution was ratified in 1789, hundreds of thousands of bills have been introduced attempting to amend it. But only 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been ratified, out of 33 passed by Congress and sent to the states. Under Article V, states also have the option of petitioning Congress to call a constitutional convention if two-thirds of state legislatures agree to do so. This has never occurred, though state legislatures have passed hundreds of resolutions over the years calling for a constitutional convention over issues ranging from a balanced budget to campaign finance reform.

Here is a summary of the 27 amendments to the Constitution:


Amendment XXIII – D.C. Electors

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XXIII

The inability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to participate in federal elections has been controversial since the federal seat of government of the United States came into existence in 1800. In 1960, Congress rectified the situation concerning the District’s participation in presidential elections by passing the Twenty-third Amendment. It enables the District to participate in presidential and vice-presidential elections in the same manner in which the states participate in those elections. The states swiftly ratified the proposed amendment in time for the District to cast electoral votes in the presidential election of 1964. The amendment did not address the District’s lack of representation in Congress.

The legislative history of the amendment makes clear that the drafters sought to provide the seat of government of the United States, the District of Columbia, with the same method of selecting presidential electors in the Electoral College as the states employed to select their presidential electors. The legislative history also reveals that some of the key drafters were ignorant of the relevant constitutional history concerning the manner in which the states had selected their presidential electors. Early in U.S. history, some states chose electors by district, others by the state legislature, and others by a “winner-take-all” system. Despite this confusion, the Twenty-third Amendment clearly provides Congress the same leeway as the state legislatures in enacting the electoral vote selection procedures for the District.

The amendment contains some sui generis provisions. The amendment expressly caps the District’s electoral votes at the number equal to the least populous state. This, in effect, provides the District with three electoral votes regardless of the population of the District. In addition, because the parallel constitutional provisions grant the respective state legislatures with plenary power over the method of selection of the presidential electors, a like power was necessarily given to Congress. The legislative history notes that “the language follows closely, insofar as it is applicable, the language of article II of the constitution.”

Although not constitutionally required, Congress, by statute, has adopted a winner-take-all system, in which the winner of the plurality of votes receives all of the District’s presidential electors. Such winner-take-all systems have been enacted in all fifty states except for Maine and Nebraska. Recently, controversies over the Twenty-third Amendment have arisen as part of efforts for District statehood or to provide the District with representation in the federal legislature. For example, if Congress, by statute, accepted the District of Columbia as the State of New Columbia, and the present “seat of government of the United States” was not eliminated but reduced to a small federal enclave containing the White House and the federal Mall, what would become of the Twenty-third Amendment?

Many District-statehood and District–voting-rights proponents generally seek to avoid amending the Constitution because of the difficulties of obtaining congressional approval and state ratification. They contend that the Twenty-third Amendment would become a “dead letter” without the necessity of formal repeal by constitutional amendment, because there would be virtually no residents left in the federal enclave. On the other hand, “the Seat of Government of the United States,” the entity designated in the amendment to receive electoral votes, would still exist in its geographically reduced form. That constitutional entity, absent constitutional repeal, would still be constitutionally entitled to the electoral votes under the Twenty-third Amendment. Any congressional effort to repeal the enabling legislation, but not to repeal the Twenty-third Amendment, would likely face constitutional difficulty. For example, the concept that any constitutional provision can be deemed a “dead letter” by legislation runs contrary to basic principles of the American constitutional structure. Additionally, such a scenario could imply that a state legislature could exercise like authority and act to disenfranchise its citizens from participation in the Electoral College.

For decades, these concerns seemed academic and hypothetical. However, the 2000 presidential election and the controversy over Florida’s electoral votes renewed focus on a state’s constitutional prerogatives concerning the manner and selection of presidential electors. Those constitutional developments necessarily inform Congress’s parallel obligations under the Twenty-third Amendment.

Just one more case of the law of unintended consequences…

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Section 1

The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.


Amendment XXIII - History

Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

XII - Manner of Choosing a President and Vice-President

Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified July 27, 1804.

1. The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted - The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. (The words in italics were superseded by Amendment XX)

3. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such numbers be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

XIII - Slavery Abolished

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XIV - Citizen rights not to be abridged

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of Electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a State, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or Elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

XV - Race no bar to voting rights

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XVI - Income taxes authorized

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

XVII - U.S. Senators to be elected by direct popular vote

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislatures.

2. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the Legislature of any State may empower the Executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the Legislature may direct.

3. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

XVIII - Liquor Prohibition

Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919.

1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

XIX - Giving nationwide suffrage to women

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XX - Terms of the President and Vice-President

Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933

1. The terms of the President and the Vice-President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice-President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice-President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice-President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice-President shall have qualified.

4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice-President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article (October 1933).

6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

XXI - Repeal of Amendment XVIII

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

1. The Eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

XXII - Limiting presidential terms of office

Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more that two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.

2. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

XXIII - Presidential vote for the District of Columbia

Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

2. A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

3. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XXIV - Barring poll tax in federal elections

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23,1964.

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or any other tax.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XXV - Presidential disability and succession

Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.

1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take the office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congress

3. Whenever the President transmits to the President Pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits to the President Pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

5. Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President Pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits within four days to the President Pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

XXVI - Lowering the voting age to 18 years

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified June 30, 1971.

The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

XXVII - Congressional Pay

Passed by Congress September 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


Voting Rights and the 14th Amendment

How much impact did woman suffragists have on the 14th Amendment? How was it that its provisions did not give women the right to vote? What did the 15th Amendment add that wasn't in the 14th?

Answer

History is messy. And so are politics. A good historian resists the urge to reduce the many causes or meanings of an event to a single one. One of the most persistent urges of students of American history is to try to decide whether the Civil War was "really" about slavery or about states' rights. Another contender for the "real" cause of the war has been the regional tensions between an agrarian and an industrial economy, and another contender, the unequal unfolding in various segments of society of the universal implications of the Enlightenment's principle of individual freedom.

The "real" cause was all of these and more. Those on each side of the conflict acted with a variety of goals, and individuals were commonly motivated by more than one reason.

The complexity of interests, goals, and motivations continued throughout the Reconstruction period after the war. The radical Republicans, who dominated Congress, were determined to complete the task of eliminating slavery. But this meant more than simply abolishing slavery itself, which occurred through the adoption of the 13th Amendment at the end of 1865. (The 13th Amendment wrote the abolition of slavery into the deepest level of American law, making it permanent. Northern abolitionists had worried that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 would be attacked after the end of the war as merely a temporary emergency measure.)

The passage of the 13th Amendment did not end the problem, however, because the freed slaves' legal status was undefined and unclear. From the freed slaves' point of view, this left them without legal protection against attempts in the South to coerce them into a permanent underclass status.

The problem was constitutionally complicated because the pre-war Supreme Court Dred Scott decision had declared black slaves to be non-persons. A 14th Amendment was necessary, therefore, to explicitly establish the status of blacks as persons and citizens through a natural right, inhering simply in having been born in the country and in recognizing their allegiance to it.

This was a philosophical expansion of who was included in the "We the People" phrase in the preamble to the Constitution, but the plight of the still-disenfranchised freed slaves in the South increased the urgency of passing the Amendment. Because the southern states were still occupied federal territory, the freed slaves—for the time being—could be given direct federal protection. However, the states were agitating for readmission to the Union, and their legislative representation had to be calculated. The Constitution had calculated it by counting slaves as three-fifths of a person. That language obviously now had to be amended. In addition, it was urgent that blacks be given full legislative representation to thwart Southern efforts to turn them into a permanent underclass without the full rights of citizens.

For the advocates of women's rights, this is where it got messy, and where some of the various motivations and goals of those who had previously been working together began to unravel. The radical Republicans who drafted the language of the 14th Amendment realized that by making a "natural rights" case for including blacks as full citizens, with all the rights and obligations, they would be making the same case for women. Had the amendment contained only the language of Section 1, women's rights advocates would have been thrilled because it would have strengthened their argument for female suffrage, even though it had to do with establishing citizenship rather than the right to vote per se:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

But this wording would have made the amendment impossible to pass. There was wide political support for protecting the freed slaves, but not for giving women the right to vote.

This political dilemma was "solved" through the language of Section 2, which was needed to specify how the inhabitants of states would be counted for the purpose of legislative representation. It amended the Constitution's "three-fifths" clause.

And a penalty would be exacted from a recalcitrant state for any effort to deny blacks their votes. For each black denied the vote, the state's basis for representation would be reduced by one:

"Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote… is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States … the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State."

Before the war, a slave state was able to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of its apportion representation in Congress. Now, for each black who was denied the vote, the state would be forced to deduct a whole person from its basis for apportioned representation. This would apply strong pressure on the state not to disenfranchise blacks. Simultaneously, however, the language of this section of the amendment, in precisely specifying the calculation to be used, qualified the words "inhabitants" and "citizens" with the word "male."

This section, therefore, both enraged women's rights advocates while also allowing the amendment's proponents enough cover to find the votes for passage because it appeared to limit its effects to expanding the male population eligible to vote. The words "male" and "female" had not appeared in the Constitution before this. And women had been making their strongest Constitutional argument for the right to vote based on the "natural rights" reasoning upon which the Constitution relied. They argued that women already had the right to vote (and had always had it), at least implicitly, in the Constitution, but that mere outmoded convention had prevented that right from being recognized. They had been arguing for woman suffrage, in other words, based on the universal human rights they saw as affirmed by implication in the Constitution.

Most of those who had argued for women's rights before and during the war had also allied themselves strongly with the movement to abolish slavery, linking the two causes on the basis of natural rights. But now, by the insertion of the word "male" into the amendment, the Constitution would no longer be technically gender-blind, but would actively "disfranchise" women. Women's rights advocates were particularly stung by the fact that the amendment was written and was being pushed by the very same reformers, such as Senator Charles Sumner, with whom they had stood shoulder to shoulder in the agitation against slavery.

As Elizabeth Cady Stanton remarked on the Republican Congress's determination to extend voting rights to blacks: "to demand his enfranchisement on the broad principle of natural rights, was hedged about with difficulties, as the logical result of such action must be the enfranchisement of all ostracized classes not only the white women of the entire country, but the slave women of the South … the only way they could open the constitutional door just wide enough to let the black man pass in, was to introduce the word 'male' into the national Constitution."

Wendell Phillips, in 1865, as the new head of the American Anti-Slavery Society, turned the society's sights on ensuring black Americans' civil and political rights, especially suffrage. The old-line anti-slavery agitators understood that trying to extend suffrage to African-Americans would require a huge political battle. Trying to extend suffrage to women, too, at the same time, would be impossible. So now he told the society's annual convention, "I hope in time to be as bold as [British reformer John] Stuart Mill and add to that last clause 'sex'!! But this hour belongs to the negro. As Abraham Lincoln said, 'One War at a time' so I say, One question at a time. This hour belongs to the negro." Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony both understood immediately that this meant that their erstwhile supporters among the abolitionists—many of whom were now in the councils of legislative influence in the Republican Party—were putting the "woman's cause … in deep water."

Congress proposed the 14th Amendment on June 13, 1866. It was ratified and became law on July 9, 1868. Its adoption caused a deep rift among those who, until then, had made common cause. Many of the supporters of the amendment hoped that the issues of black suffrage and woman suffrage could be separated out and treated sequentially, one after the other. And many of them were acting on the pressing need to deal with the issue of black citizenship and suffrage separate from the issue of woman suffrage out of the necessity to cope with the unfolding events in the aftermath of the war.

Nevertheless, many women's rights activists felt that their cause had been betrayed by their former friends in reform, and that the cause of blacks and women had not just been separated, out of a temporary necessity, but that the cause of women had been set back. Historian Ellen DuBois has noted that this was a watershed event in that women's rights activists, after this, began focusing their organizing efforts specifically on gaining for women the right to vote, rather than relying on broader reforms. They organized both the National Woman's Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, and began petitioning for a constitutional amendment that would guarantee women the right to vote.

As events unfolded in the South, blacks were often excluded from voting by local restrictions of one kind or another, and Congress recognized that constitutionally defining blacks as citizens, through the 14th Amendment, did not absolutely guarantee their right to vote. Consequently, Congress proposed the 15th Amendment on February 26, 1869. It was ratified and became law on February 3, 1870:

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

For women's rights advocates, this amendment added nothing new to their struggle for suffrage. Especially frustrating for them was the fact that antebellum reformers had often railed against legal limits to freedom based on "race, color, or sex," and the language of this new amendment seemed to them to be a kind of parody of that, in which "sex" was deliberately replaced by "previous condition of servitude," that is, slavery.

It was a painful irony for many women's rights activists, therefore, that they found themselves actively opposing the passage of the amendment (as some of them had opposed the 14th Amendment). The amendment that would guarantee them the right to vote—the 19th—would not become law until 1920.

For more information

"Petition of E. Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and others asking for an amendment of the Constitution that shall prohibit the several States from disfranchising any of their citizens on the ground of sex, ca. 1865," Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. ARC Identifier 306684.

"Form letter from E. Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone asking friends to send petitions for women's suffrage to their representatives in Congress, 12/26/1865," Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. ARC Identifier 306686.

Bibliography

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 2: 1861-1876. Rochester, NY: Privately Printed, 1881, pp. 90-106, 333-362, 407-416.

Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978, pp. 53-72.

Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, pp. 136-148.


(1865) Reconstruction Amendments, 1865-1870

Amendments 13-15 are called the Reconstruction Amendments both because they were the first enacted right after the Civil War and because all addressed questions related to the legal and political status of the African Americans.

AMENDMENT XIII
Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.
Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
________________________________________
AMENDMENT XIV
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.
________________________________________
AMENDMENT XV
Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Amendment XXIII - History

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment, ratified on January 23, 1964, eliminated the ability of governments, whether federal or state, to impose a poll tax or any other type of tax as a requirement for allowing citizens to vote.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Basis

After the dust had settled following the Civil War, and the Restoration Amendments had been passed, some southern states began the practice of charging a poll tax, the payment of which was required before a person would be allowed to vote. This afforded the ability to limit access to voting by African Americans, who could not pay the tax, yet did not violate the 15th Amendment. Poll taxes became a standard for voting in the South, eventually being implemented by all eleven states that once comprised the Confederacy.

Process

The road to ratification of the 24th Amendment was not an easy one, and it was not a short one. From the period spanning 1890 to the ratification of the amendment in 1964, it was considered, addressed, drafted, reconsidered, dropped, and reconsidered. The federal government, for the most part, disregarded the poll tax issue from the early 1900’s to 1937. Further, the poll tax even survived a challenge that was presented to the Supreme Court in which the tax was upheld as being part of states’ rights.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt vocalized his opinion that the poll taxes should be abolished but did not pursue the matter out of concern that doing so would alienate the conservative Democrats of the South. President Roosevelt was about to unveil his New Deal plan, and he needed those Democrats’ support.

Efforts to abolish the taxes continued despite efforts by some of the senior senators from the South to filibuster. In the late 1930’s, the House passed a bill 254-84 that would abolish the taxes however, the senior senators were able to completely bring the process to a halt with another filibuster.

Interestingly, the tone of the poll tax debate changed as the 1940’s arrived. Before this era, legislators made no effort to hide the fact that the poll tax was a deliberate effort to restrict the black vote. As the 1940’s progressed into the 1950’s, the intent had been translated to convey the idea that the concern was based upon constitutional issues, although non-public documents indicate that the underlying purpose of limiting the black vote had not changed.

Interestingly, southern states that had taken the initiative to abolish poll taxes remained in opposition to passage of The Poll Tax Bill. These states were experiencing difficulty with their restoration state in the union combined with their remnant of a dream of separatism. They did not relish the idea of the federal government having the power to interfere in the states’ electoral process, and for this reason sided with those states who were opposed to The Poll Tax Bill.

As his term commenced, President Harry S. Truman created the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, to investigate matters concerning equal rights, including the poll tax. As the Cold War commenced in the 1950’s, the Poll Tax Bill faded into the background as fear of communism took center stage, and it was learned that some Marxist Americans were opposed to the poll tax.

The election of President John F. Kennedy resulted in another look at the civil rights issue, including the poll tax. After consideration of the issue, he decided that the best course of action would be a constitutional amendment, since all efforts to pass legislation resulted in filibuster.

President Kennedy was able to gain the support of senators who had formerly opposed any type of civil rights legislation, and this fact served to bolster support by others who would have most likely opposed its passage.

Although ratification was not accomplished with 100% approval, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1964. Thirty-eight states initially ratified the amendment, with four states later ratifying as well. The amendment was rejected outright by the State of Mississippi, and at the time of this writing, eight other states have not ratified the amendment.

In Summary

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment’s journey into being began with the post-Civil War era and reached its zenith in 1964 under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson referred to the passage of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment as “a triumph of liberty over restriction.” It is an excellent example of the tenacity of the American spirit.


Twenty-Third Amendment

The Twenty-third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Twenty-third Amendment was proposed on June 16, 1960, and ratified on March 29, 1961. The amendment rectified an omission in the Constitution that prevented residents of the District of Columbia from voting in presidential elections.

Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to accept land from the states and administer it as the seat of national government. The District of Columbia was organized under this provision from land given to the federal government by Virginia and Maryland.

The government of the city of Washington and the District of Columbia has been dominated by Congress for most of the district's history. Congress is empowered by Article I to exercise exclusive authority over the seat of government. In the 1820s Congress allowed citizens of the district to vote for a mayor and city council. In 1871 Congress created a territorial form of government for the district. All the officials, including a legislative assembly, were appointed by the president. This system was abandoned in 1874, when Congress reestablished direct control over the city government.

From the 1870s until 1961, residents of the district were denied all rights to vote. Though residents paid federal and local taxes and were drafted into the military services, they could not vote. The Twenty-third Amendment gave district residents the right to vote for president. Under the amendment the number of the district's electors cannot exceed that of the state with the smallest population. In practice, this means that the district elects three presidential electors.

The amendment did not address the issue of representation in Congress. Later, a constitutional amendment that would have given residents the right to vote for congressional representatives was proposed, but it failed to win ratification. In 1970 Congress created the position of nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, to be elected by the district's residents.


Understanding the 23rd Amendment

The 23rd Amendment of the United States Constitution would finally provide citizens of the District of Columbia the right to vote for the President and Vice President offices. Prior to the 23rd Amendment, citizens of Washington, D.C. were not granted the right to vote on the basis that the Capitol is not considered a State of the United States.

Under Article I of the United States Constitution, power was granted to Congress to accept land from the states for the purpose of creating the seat of Government. The District of Columbia was founded in accordance with the provision, as the states of Maryland and Virginia would provide for such land.

Washington, D.C. would, therefore, be controlled by Congress. The 23rd Amendment was proposed by Congress on June 17th, 1960, and finally ratified by the necessary number of states on March 29th, 1961. Washington D.C. citizens would ultimately be able to exercise their new right to vote in a Presidential election in 1964.

Under the provisions included in the 23rd Amendment, the District of Columbia would be restricted to having a number of electors that would reflect the number of electors in the least populated State of the United States. The electors would be appointed by the State and would be considered as electors appointed by a State. The electors would be bound to observe and follow the provisions contained within theTwelfth Amendment.


U.S. Constitution - Amendment 23

1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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