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Vibrant Print of Fifteenth Amendment Celebrations
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The colorful central image of this lithograph depicts a Black Zouave regiment on parade in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 19, 1870, to celebrate passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Framing the central scene are vignettes and portraits of individuals important to the cause of African American men’s voting rights. Individuals pictured include Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Douglass, Martin R. Delany (first U.S. Army African American field officer), Hiram R. Revels (first African American U.S. Senator), Schuyler Colfax, Abraham Lincoln, and John Brown. The portraits are interspersed with vignettes showing scenes of African Americans reading the Emancipation Proclamation, marrying, leading troops in battle, worshiping, voting, sitting in Congress, among other activities, with captions: “We till Our Own Fields; Education Will Prove the Equality of the Races;  The ballot box is Open to Us; [Masonic scene]We Unite in the Bonds of Fellowship with the Whole Human Race; Liberty Protects the Marriage Alter; The Holy Ordinance of Religion are Free; Freedom Unites the Family Circle; We Will Protect our Country as it Defends our Rights; Our Charter of Rights is the Holy Scripture.

[FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT]. The Fifteenth Amendment, Celebrated May 19th 1870, hand-colored lithographic print. New York: Thomas Kelly, 1870. From original design by James C. Beard. 1 p., 30 x 24 in.

Inventory #27755       Price: $6,500

Historic Background
The 15th Amendment, passed by Congress in 1869, and ratified by the requisite number of states on February 3, 1870, stated that “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,” and gave Congress an enforcement mechanism. It was the last of the Reconstruction amendments passed by the Republican Congress after the Civil War to give citizenship to newly freed African Americans.

The BaltimoreSun newspaper described the parade on May 19 as an “Imposing Procession of Civil, Military, Trade and Beneficial Associations.” Both black and white spectators lined the streets to view the grand procession. A chariot drawn by four horses led the procession and carried a large bell that was “kept continually sounding” and a banner proclaiming, “Ring out the old, ring in the new, ring out the false, ring in the true.” Following the chariot were the Knights Templar of Baltimore and Washington, the Philadelphia Cornet Band, and detachments of infantry and cavalry. Carriages carrying a procession of distinguished guests and speakers included famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The parade also included various social organizations, fire departments, bands, clubs, schools, work associations, political societies, and more from Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia, many dressed in bright colors and carrying banners and flags. A twenty-foot full-rigged ship sits in the background of the center scene of the print, which the BaltimoreSun’s article mentioned accompanied the Caulkers’ and Live Oak Association and was drawn by four horses. A wagon carried an operating printing press that was printing a handbill during the parade, which contained the text of the Fifteenth Amendment and an advertisement for the Freedmen’s Savings Bank. The procession began at 11 a.m., and the end of it did not reach Monument Square until 4 p.m.

At Monument Square, the speaker’s stand collapsed, but there were no serious injuries, and they changed to the balcony of the Gilmor House on the other side of the square. Organizers read letters from Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and William Lloyd Garrison of New York. Speakers included African American attorney from Ohio John M. Langston, U.S. Postmaster General John Creswell from Maryland, Frederick Douglass, and U.S. Senator Frederick A. Sawyer of South Carolina.

James Carter Beard (1837-1913) was born in Cincinnati, and spent his childhood in Covington, Kentucky. Admitted to the bar in 1861, Beard practiced for only a short time. He married Martha J. Bray of Indiana in December 1862. He studied law, but decided on a career as an illustrator. He specialized in pictures of animals and worked as a staff artist for D. Appleton & Company and for Charles Scribner’s Sons. He was the author and illustrator of Little Workers (1878), Curious Homes and Their Tenants (1897), and Billy Possum (1909). By 1910, he lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. His brother Daniel C. Beard and sisters Adelia Belle Beard and Lina Beard were also illustrators.

Thomas Kelly (1836-1914) was born in Ireland and immigrated to Philadelphia in the 1850s. In 1859, he married Margret T. Inglis (1835-1911), who was born in Scotland. They had eleven children. He worked with his father John Kelly (1810-1872) in Philadelphia before establishing his own publishing firm in New York City in 1863. Kelly created views of all areas of American life and was known for strong coloring and vivid compositions. In 1865, he published two lithographs: President Lincoln and His Cabinet and Jefferson Davis and His Cabinet for sale to both northern and southern customers.

Reference:Reilly, American Political Prints 1870-4.

Condition:vertical folds, 6-inch repaired tear extending into left part of image, edge wear reinforced in spots on verso. Large margins.

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