From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

United States v. Reese, et al, 92 U.S. 214

This case was the first big test of voting rights under the 15th Amendment of 1870 that gave African American men the right to vote. In Kentucky, an African American man named William Garver had been denied voting rights in a municipal election, and the voting official was indicted. The indictment was based on the Enforcement Act of 1870, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Enforcement Act unconstitutional: Congress did not have the power to seek punishment for the denial of voting rights on any grounds and could only legislate against discrimination based on race. The decision allowed southern states to deny voting rights to African Americans due to poll taxes, literacy and other tests. The indictment of election officials and others was considered an error of the Circuit Courts of the United States (Kentucky). For more see United States v. Reese, 92 U.S. 214 (1875) [full text online at].

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“United States v. Reese, et al, 92 U.S. 214,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 19, 2019,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:37