Before this act was passed there was a large history of voting and racial related discrimination. Before the Civil War the United States Constitution did not provide specific protections for voting. Qualifications for voting were matters which neither the Constitution nor federal laws governed. At that time, although a few northern states permitted a small number of free black men to register and vote, slavery and restrictive state laws and practices led the franchise.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” and includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. This amendment failed to explicitly prohibit vote discrimination on racial grounds
In 1870 the 15th Amendment was ratified, which provided specifically that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude. This superseded state laws that had directly prohibited black voting. As a result, in the former Confederate States, where new black citizens in some cases comprised majorities of the eligible voting population, hundreds of thousands -maybe one million - recently-freed slaves registered to vote. Black candidates began for the...