Voting is the fundamental right of American citizens, for it is the guardian of every other right in American society. However, the right to vote was not conceived of as an “inalienable” attribute of citizenship by the nation’s founders; it was often viewed as a privilege restricted to groups of Americans with specific economic, gender, racial, or social characteristics and qualifications. The framers of the US Constitution left the right to determine suffrage eligibility to the states, not the federal government. The history of voting rights has not been a smooth, uninterrupted train of progress toward universal suffrage. Suffrage has expanded and contracted throughout our nation’s history, with periods of exclusion and inclusion for different groups of people.
TCTH Lesson Plans
- Voting Rights Lesson Plans (High School)
- Voting Rights Lesson Plans (Middle School)
- Women and the Right to Vote (Middle School)
- How We Elect a President (Middle School)
- Civic Engagement Project Pacing Guidance
- Student Rubric
The Gilder Lehrman Institute has worked with AllSides.com to pull up current articles in the news media related to this topic written from different perspectives.
Click on the “Latest News” below to access the AllSides page on this topic.
The articles shown here update regularly, so if you find articles that you are particularly interested in sharing with your students, keep track of the links to the original publications.
Additional Gilder Lehrman Resources
“A Right Deferred: African American Voter Suppression after Reconstruction” by Marsha J. Tyson Darling
“‘A Vote-less People Is a Hopeless People’: Lessons from Selma” by Robert A. Pratt
“The Heart and Soul of Fannie Lou Hamer, An Extraordinary African American Leader” by Earnest N. Bracey
“Winning the Vote: A History of Voting Rights” by Steven Mintz
“‘The Chinese Question’—Unresolved and Ongoing for Americans” by John Kuo Wei Tchen