pre-dawn queues

150 years ago today recently enfranchised black men in the District of Columbia once again took advantage of their new right to vote in large numbers at a local election. The presumably more progressive Republicans won  all the city-wide races and  a majority of the wards.

From the June 22, 1867 issue of Harper’s Weekly (page 397)


WASHINGTON CITY witnessed, on June 3, another curious scene illustrative of the progressive spirit of the times. For the second time in its history the colored citizens assisted in the municipal election. We give on this page a view at one of the polling-places at which a negro man was one of the Judges, and from all accounts a smart one he proved. In fact the whole colored race in Washington appears to have appreciated its privilege on this occasion. The colored men gathered in long lines before the polls as early as two o’clock on the morning of the election, and waited patiently for an opportunity to vote. Many who entered the line before sunrise did not get their vote deposited until a short time before the polls closed. Very few whites voted, and the Republican ticket was elected by a large majority.

Significant election scene at Washington, June 3, 1867 / sketched by A.W. M'Callum. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1867 June 22, p. 397.; LOC:

judging the vote

You can read more details in the June 4, 1867 edition of From The New-York Times. The correspondent noted that the blacks were well-organized and avoided being deceived by their opponents by only accepting Republican tickets from people they knew. Democrats circulated fraudulent Republican tickets throughout the city. Many churches distributed regular Republican tickets the day before.

You can see the sketch in more detail at the Library of Congress
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