BALTIMORE -- May 19, 1870 --
The Civil War has been over for five years. Lincoln's Emancipation
Proclamation has been in effect since 1863. Only now, with the
country facing the stupendous task of rebuilding the South and with
Ulysses S. Grant and the radical Republicans promising to give freed
slaves the right to vote, does the Fifteenth Amendment pass Congress.
Three quarters of the states would have to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment for it to become part of the Constitution. Ironically, Maryland, one state which rejected the amendment, was chosen as the site of one of the nation's largest celebrations of its ratification. In Baltimore, on May 19, 1870, a parade with over 20,000 participants was executed in an "imposing and hearty manner," and "the dancing was kept up until a late hour."