May 1: Suffrage and Race

2015-05-01On May 1, two very interesting events took place during the nineteenth century. They both occurred during the American Civil War era, exactly three years apart.

On May 1, 1863 the Confederate Congress passed a resolution to kill African American soldiers. This meant that for the most part, Confederates refused to take black prisoners. The Confederates had a few reasons for this. One reason was an act of defiance towards the Union and President Lincoln, who allowed free African Americans to join the military. Another was to discourage blacks from joining the Union for fear of being killed with no mercy.

On this same day, exactly three years later, the American Equal Rights Association (or AERA) was formed. Its constitution stated that its goal was to “Secure all equal rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color, or sex.”

I found it intriguing that such brutal war exploit as well as the formation of a group fighting for equal rights just so happened to fall on the same exact day, only three years apart.

–Brandon Clark

Photo Credit: Lucretia Mott was president of the American Equal Rights Association.