Black History Moment: The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868

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Black History Moment: The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868
During Reconstruction, when Southern states from the former Confederacy were seeking to rejoin the Union (United States) after the Civil War, one state stands out in particular – South Carolina.  Thanks to the Reconstruction Act of 1867, today’s black history moment is a look into South Carolina’s noteworthy event to rewrite their state constitution for readmission into the Union.
The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868 – Background
  • Took place in Charleston, SC from Jan. 14 to Mar. 17, 1868, where elected reps (delegates) convened for the task of rewriting the state constitution
  • In 1867, an election was called for SC residents to do two things: determine whether or not to have a convention, and select convention delegates from their respective voting districts – majority votes were FOR a convention
  • The majority of convention delegates chosen to rewrite the state constitution were black men! (76 out of 124 total delegates)
The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868 – Key Highlights & Significance
  • Abolished property ownership as a qualification to vote or hold public office
  • Established universal manhood suffrage (voting rights) without regard to race or skin color
  • Solidified African Americans’ status as free citizens
  • Provided for free state-sponsored education for children (i.e. public school system)
  • Extended the property rights of married women and established the state’s first divorce law
  • Significance: The SC state constitution of 1868 was considered “revolutionary,” because it embodied many democratic principles that were absent from earlier versions of the same
Visit any of the below websites and/or your local library to learn more about the South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868:
RESOURCES
 
SCIWAY – South Carolina – African Americans – A New Constitution in 1868
 
College of Charleston: The Constitutional Convention of 1868
SC Key State Documents – 1868 Constitution & Convention documented proceedings
SC Department of Archives & History

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