An African American attempts to vote in Milwaukee in 1865

First Colored Voter


Although a majority of voters approved black suffrage in 1849, the right to vote was consistently denied to African Americans due to disputes over the wording of what constituted a majority. With the encouragement of abolitionist Sherman Booth, Ezekiel Gillespie attempted to vote in Milwaukee in 1865 and was refused. The case went quickly to the state Supreme Court to resolve the issue of African American suffrage, and the court voted unanimously in favor of Gillespie. This article, thought to have been written by Sherman Booth or with his assistance, reviews the history of the case and its outcome. Click "Zoom & Pan" to view it more closely, or scroll down to read an electronic text version.


Related Topics: Territory to Statehood
Wisconsin in the Civil War Era
The State Constitutions of 1846 and 1848
Abolition and Other Reforms
Creator: The Evening Wisconsin
Pub Data: The Evening Wisconsin. 12 June 1897.
Citation: "First Colored Voter." The Evening Wisconsin. (12 June 1897). Online facsimile at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1385 Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1385; Visited on: 10/31/2014
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