All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Natasha Zaretsky

Advisory Committee Members

Andrew Baer

John Van Sant

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


After the Civil War, Alabama responded negatively to the abolition of slavery and the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments. This is especially true of the 15th Amendment, which promised suffrage regardless of race or skin color. Alabamians used multiple methods to diminish the presence of African American voting, building the foundations for a white power structure and a segregated society. This thesis takes a broad scope, from 1865-1965, to analyze the methods of voter suppression, how these changed over time, and the ideological backing of voter suppression. Organized violence was the first method used to keep black men from the polls in the 19th century. However, due to backlash from the federal government and the instability of violent measures, the state introduced legal restrictions on voting. This became the norm after Alabama ratified a new state constitution in 1901. While these measures targeted African Americans, others suffered. Many less affluent whites also lost their access to the franchise, and so did women after the passage of the 19th Amendment. While methods of oppression often changed, the ideological backing remained consistent. The fear of losing power kept Alabama and many of its leaders from allowing all citizens to exercise their right to vote equally for almost a century.



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