The Injustice of Poll Taxes. / To the Members of the Constitutional Convention: / Gentlemen: The committee on "Bill of Rights" having reported, and in their report provided for the levying of a "poll tax" … [caption title and first three lines of text, followed by three columns of dense text]. Signed in type at the end "Henry P. Farrow."

[Atlanta, GA: 1867 or 1868). Printed broadside, 16 x 10 inches, the headline in bold and two sizes of type. A critical moment in the history of Reconstruction and the future of Negro voting rights in the South. Georgia led the way in making the poll tax a bulwark against fundamental change in race relations. Despite opposition to its inclusion in this, Georgia's first Reconstruction constitution, the poll tax was retained in the final draft adopted in 1868 and embedded verbatim in the 1877 revised constitution. Other states followed Georgia's lead and by 1904 the tax prevailed throughout the former Confederacy. Hummel 594 (Georgia only). OCLC locates six copies (Yale, West Georgia, Clements, Williams [incorrectly dating it "1877"], American Antiquarian Society, Duke). A little foxing, some soiling to verso, else very good. Folded. (7650). Item #61606

An eloquent appeal by a Southern champion of Reconstruction, made on behalf of Georgia's poor, both black and white, to strike out the provision for a poll tax in that state's first post-bellum constitution. Farrow (1834-1907), Georgia lawyer, state attorney general, and U.S. District Attorney, did much to bring about Georgia's compliance with the Sherman Reconstruction Bill, which required the former Confederate States to adopt constitutions that would embody Reconstruction principles. Georgia complied and held its convention between December 9, 1867, and March 11, 1868. In the proposed constitution Section 23 of Article I, "Declaration of Fundamental Principles," a bill of rights in effect, stated: "No poll tax shall be levied except for educational purposes …" Farrow asked here that the words "except for educational purposes" be struck out. "Should the report … be thus amended … section 23 would then read 'there shall be no poll tax levied,' and the people of Georgia would thereby be forever secured against the most unjust and oppressive taxation ever imposed." He goes on at great length to condemn this ill-disguised effort to "prohibit every citizen, white or black, from voting, who is unable to pay this poll tax. Indeed, the object … is the disenfranchisement of the poor." In the end white conservatives prevailed and the poll tax provision was retained (as section 29 of Article I in the final draft). The tax was abolished in 1870 by the Ackerman Law but reinstated in 1871 by Redemptionist Democrats and retained verbatim in the revised 1877 constitution. As every former Confederate state followed Georgia's lead by 1904, the southern poll taxes would trump the Fifteenth Amendment for the next six decades Cf. Reed's "History of Atlanta" (1889), pp. 218-222, which discusses Farrow's active role in some detail.

Price: $1,500.00

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