The Result of the Fifteenth Amendment, and the Rise and Progess of the African Race in America and Its Final Accomplishment, and Celebration on May 19th A.D. 1870.

The Result of the Fifteenth Amendment, and the Rise and Progess of the African Race in America and Its Final Accomplishment, and Celebration on May 19th A.D. 1870.

[Baltimore: Metcalf & Clark, ca. 1870.]. Half-colored lithograph, sheet-size 21.5” x 28”, image-size, 17.5” x 24.5”.

One of several known lithographs representing the parade held in Baltimore on 19 May 1870 in celebration of the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, with surrounding vignettes portraying the lives of African Americans before, during, and after the Civil War, as well as portraits of leaders who contributed to their emancipation and the expansion of their rights.

This large print commemorates the passage on 30 March 1870 of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote. Constituting the largest celebration of the Amendment's passage, the parade in Baltimore lasted over five hours, was a mile in length, and drew over 20,000 spectators. The 15th Amendment was the last of the three ‘Reconstruction Amendments’ establishing the broad legal framework for abolition, which until then was strictly a function of the Emancipation Proclamation, a war-time measure.

The central image shows the parade at Washington Place, near Baltimore's Washington Monument, which is visible in the background. Leading the parade are two lines of black Zouaves, rifles across their shoulders. They are followed by a group of black freemasons on horseback wearing top-hats and sashes; a horse-drawn float carrying young black women wearing crowns and standing under a canopy; soldiers on horseback; a military band playing brass instruments; a float featuring a ship with black sailors aboard (know to have accompanied the Good Intent Club, Caulkers’, and Live Oak); a float carrying African American children waving American flags, and more. Many spectators, a good number of whom are black, line the street.

Also known to have participated in the celebration were distinguished guests and speakers including H. J. Brown (who read a letter from abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison), Howard University dean John M. Langston, Frederick Douglass, and others. The cavalcade was described by the Baltimore Sun as an “Imposing Procession of Civil, Military, Trade and Beneficial Associations.”

The central parade scene is surrounded by six vignettes and eleven bust portraits. Taking the place of honor at the center-top is a portrait of John Brown, immediately flanked by the busts of Baltimore judge Hugh L. Bond and Vice President Schuyler Colfax. At the top left is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and on the right a bust of President Ulysses S. Grant. At the center of the left side are portraits of the late Pennsylvania representative and advocate of black suffrage Thaddeus Stevens (1792–1868); Maryland representative Henry Winter Davis, a co-author of the 1864 Wade-Davis Bill (one provision of which was a forerunner to the 15th Amendment); and Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. On the right side are busts of distinguished African-Americans: Martin R. Delany (author and the first black Major in the U.S. Army), Frederick Douglass, and Hiram R. Revels, the first black U.S. Senator.

In the upper-left corner is an antebellum plantation scene depicting an overseer supervising a group of slaves toiling in the field in front of a luxurious plantation house. The scene is captioned, "We are in bondage. O deliver us!" In the upper right corner is a Civil War scene depicting African American troops, including Zouaves, charging into battle, with text below reading, "We fought for Liberty, we now enjoy." Vignettes in the lower corners show parade groups of black freemasons wearing sashes and aprons; the men carry banners decorated with allegorical figures and portraits of Lincoln, Grant, and the Swiss folk hero William Tell and his son. Between these two vignettes are scenes depicting a teacher and students in a black school-room (captioned "Education will be our pride") and an African-American preacher speaking before his congregation ("The day of Jubilee has come").

OCLC records only one copy, at AAS; other copies are held by the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery, the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, and the Leventhal Center at the Boston Public Library.

A splendid lithograph commemorating the first legal step in the long and ongoing fight toward full suffrage for African Americans.

REFERENCES: Hinckle, Amanda. Celebrating a Milestone : A Lithograph Honoring the Fifteenth Amendment at museumblog.winterthur.org; Reilly, Bernard F. American Political Prints, 1766-1876 (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991), entry 1870-2.

CONDITION: Some soiling and discoloration in margins and border, imprint partially effaced; image generally good, two apparently original creases in upper portion of central scene.

Item #5365

On Hold

Price: $5,500.00

See all items in Prints & Drawings