In 1899, North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment that created new literacy and property restrictions on voting, but exempted those whose ancestors had the right to vote before the Civil War. The intent and impact of the amendment was to prevent generally poor and often illiterate African-Americans from voting, without disfranchising poor and illiterate whites:
Public Laws of North Carolina, 1899, chapter 218.
(Sec. 4.) Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the constitution in the English language and before he shall be entitled to vote he shall have paid on or before the first day of March of the year in which he proposes to vote his poll tax as prescribed by law for the previous year. Poll taxes shall be a lien only on assessed property and no process shall issue to enforce the collection of the same except against assessed property.
(Sec. 5.) No male person who was on January one, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, or at any time prior thereto entitled to vote under the laws of any states in the United States wherein he then resided, and no lineal descendant of any such person, shall be denied the right to register and vote at any election in this state by reason of his failure to possess the educational qualification prescribed in section four of this article….
In 1902 — 112 years ago today — my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge, a steadfast if low-key supporter of local Republican politics, took pen in hand for a tight-jawed letter to the editor of a newspaper in the state capital:
Raleigh Morning Post, 15 October 1902.
The following “colored” men were among those who registered to vote in Wayne County in 1902. In accordance with Section 5, each was required to name the ancestor who “grandfathered” him in. Despite his very public protest, and his brothers’ successful registrations, John W. Aldridge’s name does not appear:
Joseph Aldridge, 36, Brogden, Robert Aldridge.
M.W. Aldridge, 45, Goldsboro, Robert Aldridge.
Robert Aldridge, 33, Brogden, Robert Aldridge.
Marshall Carter, 42, Brogden, Mike Carter. [Marshall Carter’s son Milford married John W. Aldridge’s daughter, Beulah.]
Williby Carter, 22, Brogden, Mike Carter. [Williby was Beulah Aldridge Carter‘s brother-in-law.]
H.E. Hagans, 34, Goldsboro, Napoleon Hagans. [Napoleon and Henry Hagans were the half-brother and nephew, respectively, of Frances Seaberry Artis, wife of Adam T. Artis.]
W.S. Hagans, 31, Nahunta, Dr. Ward. [William was another son of Napoleon. “Dr. Ward” was his white grandfather.]
John H. Jacob, 52, Brogden, Jesse Jacob. [Jesse and John Jacobs were the father and brother of Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., who married Sarah Henderson.]
Wiley Mozingo, 76, Goldsboro, Christopher Mozingo. [Wiley Mozingo’s daughter Patience Mozingo married Noah Artis, son of Adam T. Artis. His granddaughter Ora B. Mozingo married John W. Aldridge’s son, John J. Aldridge.]