Do You Know Who Wrote The 15th Amendment
To The United States Constitution?
Article adapted from a display researched and then created
by Steve Barnett, Executive Director, Irvington Historical Society
Additional research provided by Alan Allred



George Washington Julian



The Honorable George Washington Julian, Congressman from Centerville, Indiana, who moved to Irvington in 1873 after he was not re-elected, was the author of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which extended voting rights to African-American males. Julian believed that all citizens should be allowed to vote. His original draft of the Fifteenth Amendment would have given women the right to vote. He also wrote legislation which extended voting rights to African-American males in the District of Columbia and the territories, such as the Dakota Territory, the New Mexico Territory, and Utah.



Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


AMENDMENT XV Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

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The last of the Reconstruction Amendments, the 15th Amendment was designed to close the last loophole in the establishment of civil rights for newly-freed black slaves. It ensured that a person's race, color, or prior history as a slave could not be used to bar that person from voting. Though a noble idea, it had little practical effect for quite some time, as the Southern states found myriad ways to intimidate blacks to keep them from voting. The Congress passed the amendment on February 26, 1869, and it was ratified on February 3, 1870 (342 days).

Though ratification of the 15th Amendment was not a requirement for readmittance of the Confederate States to the Congress, one of the provisions of the Reconstruction Acts required that the states include a provision in their new constitutions that included a near-copy of the text of the 15th. All of the CSA states except Tennessee, which was immune from the Reconstruction Acts, eventually ratified the 15th Amendment.

On-Line Source:



°      Born near Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana, May 5, 1817 and attended public schools there

°      Studied law, admitted to the bar in 1840, and practiced law in Greenfield, Indiana

°      Elected. Indiana House of Representatives, 1844, Whig; advocated abolishing capital         punishment

°      Married, Anne Elizabeth Finch, daughter of a Centerville lawyer. May 13, 1845 (she died of         tuberculosis, November 15, 1860)

°      Delegate, Buffalo, New York, Free-Soil Party Convention, 1848

°      Elected, United States House of Representatives, Free-Soil Party, 1848, served 1849 to 1851;         unsuccessful candidate for re-election, 1850

°      Unsuccessful candidate for Vice-President of the United States, Free-Soil Party, 1852

°      Chairman, Committee on National Organization of the Republican Party, Pittsburgh,         Pennsylvania, 1856

°      Delegate. Republican National Convention, 1856

°      Elected, U.S. House of Representatives, Republican, 1860, serving until 1871

°      Married Laura Giddings, daughter of Joshua Giddings {Member. U.S. House of Representatives),         December, 1863 (she died 1884)

°      Split from the Republican Party to join the Liberal Republicans who favored civil service reform in         1872 and became a Democrat in 1876 and remained so for the rest of his life: accused of         "changing sides/' Julian maintained that the "sides changed" and that he remained true to his         principles

°      Moved in 1873 to a new home he had built at 115 South Audubon Road in Irvington, a suburb of         Indianapolis founded by his brother. Jacob, in 1870

°      Appointed Surveyor General of New Mexico by President Grover Cleveland (served 1885-1889)

°      Returned to Indiana in 1889

°      Died in Irvington, July 7, 1899, buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana


(1849 - 1850) AND (1861 -1870)

°      Chairman. Committee on Public Lands

°      Chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy

°      Member, Committee on the Conduct of the War (Civil War)

°      Member, Committee to Draw Articles of Impeachment against President Andrew Johnson

°      Author, Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which extended voting rights to         African-American males

°      Author, first proposed amendment to the Constitution providing for women's suffrage. 1868         (which he espoused in 1847)

°      Author, legislation to limit the work day to eight hours

°      Author, Homestead Act which provided small land grants to individuals who would work and         improve public lands

°      Author, legislation extending voting rights for African-American males in the District of Columbia         the territories, such as the Dakota Territory, New Mexico Territory, and Utah



“As an anti-slavery congressman, he ranked with the great leaders in the House. Unfortunately, like some others of that class, his occupation seemed to be gone when slavery was abolished. He drifted away from the party with which he had acted in his best days, and was known in all his later years as a mere political scold. But his ability and good intentions were never questioned .”

Richmond Palladium
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10. 1899

“George W. Julian is dead at Indianapolis as the age of eighty-two. He was a man of great force of character, and his opposition to slavery was of the most aggressive character. He was one of the great Republican leaders who was forced to leave the party in 1872 because of the scandals and corruption that encompassed the organization.”

Logansport Pharos
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10, 1899

“His political career was like an arch . It started in Free Soilism, rose to the highest point in Republicanism and tapered off in Democracy. He died peacefully at his beautiful home in Irvington, respected by a large circle of friends irrespective of political differences.”

Anderson Bulletin
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10, 1899

“For the great good he did in the period of reconstruction (it was he who introduced the fifteenth amendment to the constitution) full meed of praise is freely given. For the errors he made there are none who would now cherish that part of the record against him.”

Lafayette Courier
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10, 1899

“The death of George W. Julian removes one of the notable figures in the history of Indiana.”

Evansville Journal
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10, 1899

“George W. Julian who died at his home in Irvington yesterday, was one of the old guard of abolitionists. He was a strong and capable man as representative of the Burnt District. His prejudices were as strong as his will, and sometimes shaped his course or influenced his action.”

Terre Haute Express
Excerpt printed in the Indianapolis News, July 10, 1899



More information about George Washington Julian may be found on line at:




Additionally, the Irvington Historical Society has a copy of
George Washington Julian Radical Republican, A Study In Nineteenth Century Politics and Reform,
by Patrick W. Riddleberger, Copyright © 1996 Indiana Historical Bureau in its archives which is available for viewing.





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