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Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
 

The Right to Vote

 
 
The Right to Vote Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
1. The Right to Vote Marker
Inscription.
The State of Arkansas is Dissolved
In 1867, the state of Arkansas ceased to exist. It was dissolved, as were all states still in rebellion when the Confederate government surrendered in 1865. Readmission to the Union required that the states meet two conditions set by the U.S. Congress.

Congress demanded that the former states write new constitutions that included universal manhood suffrage, ensuring that former slaves had the right to vote. They were also required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, which among other things guaranteed all male citizens 21 years and older the right to vote.

The 1868 Constitutional Convention
Arkansas held a constitutional convention in 1868 to write a new constitution that satisfied the requirements set by Congress. Most former Confederates no longer had the right to vote. However, male Freedmen over twenty-one years of age did. For the first time, African American men helped write laws in Arkansas. Two of those men were William H. Grey and James T. White, Baptist ministers from Phillips County.

William Grey and James White
James White and William Grey served as delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Little is known about White, but Grey, who had never been a slave, took a very active role. He had worked for former Virginia Governor

The Right to Vote Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
2. The Right to Vote Marker
Marker is located in the Park in front of the Phillips County Courthouse.
Henry Wise and understood how government worked. Grey was an outspoken advocate for the rights of Freedmen. "We are here not to ask for charity at the hands of this honorable body, but to receive at the hands of the people of Arkansas, in Convention assembled, the apportionment of our rights," he declared.

The New Constitution
A new constitution changed Arkansas. It gave African Americans the right to vote, to serve on juries, serve in the militia, and to hold office. It established free public schools for all and provided for a state university. The 1868 Constitution helped make Arkansas the state it is today.
 
Location. 34° 31.698′ N, 90° 35.209′ W. Marker is in Helena, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Marker is on Cherry St. just north of Porter Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Helena AR 72342, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Comes to Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Helena, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); West Helena, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Phillips County, Arkansas (within shouting distance of this marker); Phillips County Court House

The Right to Vote Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
3. The Right to Vote Marker
William H. Grey and James T. White
(about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); World War I 1917-1918 (about 400 feet away); "We are all the same as dead men" (about 500 feet away); Fort Curtis (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Helena.
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsWar, US Civil
 
The Right to Vote Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
4. The Right to Vote Marker
The State House in Little Rock, ca 1870; the site of the 1868 Constitutional Convention. It is now the Old State House Museum.
The Right to Vote Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 17, 2012
5. The Right to Vote Marker
"The First Vote," Harper's Weekly, November 16, 1867.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 626 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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