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

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

(start date: 1875) 

The case of United States v. Reese was the first big test of voting rights under the 15th Amendment of 1870 that gave African American men the right to vote.

In Lexington, KY, an African American man named William Garner had been denied voting rights in a municipal election because he had not paid a tax of $1.50. The matter was taken to court. The voting officials, Hiram Reese and Matthew Foushee, were indicted. William Garner had attempted to pay the tax, but the money was refused by the tax collector.

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 based on 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].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“United States v. Reese, et al, 92 U.S. 214,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 16, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-04-07 12:14:12