Wisconsin's Black citizens fight for suffrage, 1847-1869
Early Milwaukeeans Active in Negro's Enfranchisement.
The 1846 constitution would have allowed African Americans to vote in Wisconsin, but it was rejected when put before voters the next year. The 1848 constitution remained silent on this and other controversial issues, so following its ratification a special referendum was held in 1849. This article explains how, despite a majority of voters approving Black suffrage in 1849, the right to vote was consistently denied until 1866, when Ezekiel Gillespie carried the issue to the state Supreme Court. Not until the Wisconsin legislature ratified the 15th amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1869 were the voting rights of African American men finally assured. Black women, like all women, were denied the right to vote until 1920.