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1865 September 16: Wisconsin’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Black Suffrage

September 17, 2015

The following proposed amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution appeared in the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press, and the September 23, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment.


AN ACT to extend the right of suffrage.

The People of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows :

Section 1.  The right of voting is hereby extended to male persons of African blood, who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years or upwards, with the same qualifications and restrictions now imposed upon other voters in section one of the article on suffrage, in the constitution.

Section 2.  This act, before it takes effect, shall be submitted to the people, at a general election, to be held on the Tuesday next, succeeding the first Monday of November, 1865, when if such majority of votes as is required by the constitution, be cast for it, it shall be of force and effect under the requirements hereinafter prescribed ;  but if such majority be not cast for it, it shall have no force or effect.

Section 3.  The ballot to be used on this occasion, shall be for the affirmative, “for extension of suffrage,” for the negative, “for the extension of suffrage, no,” which shall be on the general ballot used at the said election and deposited in the same box, and all persons qualified by law to vote at any election in this State, shall be deemed voters on this question.

Section 4.  These votes shall be counted and returned by the inspectors of the election, in all respects as votes for state officers are counted and returned.

Section 5.  The officers now delegated by law to canvass the returns of votes for the state officers shall canvass the return on this question, at the same place and under the same regulations and restrictions now provided by law for canvassing and declaring the returns of elections for state officers.

Section 6.  Within three days after the determination of such canvass, it shall be the duty of the canvasser to certify the result of the said canvass to the governor, who shall, thereupon, without delay, make proclamation of the result, and publish the same daily and weekly for two weeks, in all newspapers printed in the state ;  when, if the results shall be in favor of the extension of suffrage, this act shall immediately after publication, be of force and effect ;  but if not in favor of it, then this act shall have no force or effect.

Section 7.  This act, immediately after its passage, shall be published, and at least three months previously to said general election, the secretary of state shall send or cause to be sent, a correct copy of it to every newspaper in the state, which newspaper, upon the publication of the same shall be entitled to pay for the same out of the state treasury, at the rates paid for other legal advertising.

Approved April 10, 1865.


MADISON, July 18, 1865. }

The publisher of each paper in this state, will please publish the above act once each week for three months prior to the next general election, and send his bill to this office for payment.

.         .Secretary of State.

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