The Right to Vote

The Right to Vote (HMZ1J)

Location: Helena-West Helena, AR 72342 Phillips County
Country: United States of America
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N 34° 31.698', W 90° 35.209'

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The State of Arkansas is Dissolved
In 1867, the state of Arkansas ceased to exist. It was dissolved, as were all states still in rebellion when the Confederate government surrendered in 1865. Readmission to the Union required that the states meet two conditions set by the U.S. Congress.

Congress demanded that the former state write new constitutions that included universal manhood suffrage, ensuring that former slaves had the right to vote. They were also required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, which among other things guaranteed all male citizens 21 years and older the right to vote.

The 1868 Constitution Convention
Arkansas held a constitutional convention in 1868 to write a new constitution that satisfied the requirements set by Congress. Most former Confederates no longer had the right to vote. However, male Freedmen over twenty-one years of age did.For the first time, African American men helped write laws in Arkansas. Two of those men were William H. Grey and James T. White, Baptist ministers from Phillips County.

William Grey and James White
James White and William Grey served as delegates to the Constitution Convention. Little is known about White, but Grey, who had never been a slave, took a very active role. He had worked for former Virginia Governor Henry Wise an outspoken advocate for the rights of Freemen.

"We are here not to ask for charity at the hands of this honorable body, but to receive at the hands of the people of Arkansas, in Convention assembled, the apportionment of our rights," he declared.

The New Constitution
A new constitution changed Arkansas. It gave African Americans the right to vote, to serve on juries, serve in the militia, and to hold office. It established free public schools for all and provided for a state university. The 1868 Constitution helped make Arkansas the state it is today.

HM NumberHMZ1J
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 9:37pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 721486 N 3823380
Decimal Degrees34.52830000, -90.58681667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 31.698', W 90° 35.209'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 31' 41.88" N, 90° 35' 12.54" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)870
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 300-398 Porter St, Helena-West Helena AR 72342, US
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