Passage of the Negro Suffrage Bill- Enthusiasm in the House

January 20, 1866


The House votes to pass the proposed Suffrage bill, angering the editors at the Dispatch.


Washington, January 18- the house galleries were densely crowded during the session today, and owing to the pressure many persons were unable to gain admission. The colored population were there in large numbers, everyone, both white and black, taking great interest in the discussion of the subject of the extension of the elective franchise in the District of Columbia. The vote on the passage of the bill was much larger even then its most sanguine friends anticipated, and when the result was announced, the applause on the floor and in the galleries was almost deafening. The following is a copy of the bill as it passed the House. It has yet to pass the Senate: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that from all laws and parts of laws prescribing the qualifications of electors for any office in the district of Columbia, the word "white" be, and the same is hereby, stricken out and that from and after the passage of this act no person shall be disqualified from voting at any election held in the said District on account of color. "and to be it further and acted in, that all acts of Congress and all laws of the state of Maryland in force instead District, and all ordinances of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed and annulled." Not half a dozen Republicans voted today in the house against straight out negro suffrage. The indications, however, are very favorable to a defeat of the measure in the Senate, though the republican leaders urge been an example for the whole country-North and South_should be made here. I have not a shadow of doubt that the president will veto any general suffrage bill, if he does not a qualified one, even. Many representatives were at heart opposed to the bill, but they are afraid of the violent Radicals at home.
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Justin Barlow




“Passage of the Negro Suffrage Bill- Enthusiasm in the House,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 30, 2023,