THIS WEEK IN ALEXANDRIA HISTORY

Men like these laborers in Alexandria during the Civil War lined up outside The Lyceum, demanding to vote. Courtesy National Archives

African Americans Demand Vote at 1867 Lyceum Protest

On March 2, 1867, two to three hundred black men met at The Lyceum to demand the right to vote as full citizens in upcoming municipal elections. After City officials consulted with President Andrew Johnson and the U.S. Attorney General, it was agreed that African Americans could cast ballots, but that their votes would not be counted in the final tally. To keep the peace, two companies of U.S. troops and a battalion of cavalry were sent to Alexandria as about 1,000 African Americans voted for the Union ticket. It was not until 1870 that the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, granting voting rights to black citizens.

(Source: Office of Historic Alexandria)