History: The First Black Man to Vote

Thomas Mundy Peterson was claimed to be the first black man to vote.

[Photo Credit: Patch]

Thomas Mundy Peterson born October 6, 1824 in Metuchen, New Jersey, is said to be the first African-American to vote in an election under the provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Peterson voted on March 31, 1870 when the secretary of state, Hamilton Fish officially certified the amendment. Although several towns have allowed black voting rights since the colonial days, and then later rescinded the rights, Peterson is recorded to be the first black man to exercise his right after the amendment.

Peterson was an employee of the Board of Education as a school custodian. He was also a general handyman and was an active member of the US Republican Party and Prohibition Party.

To honor him as the first African-American man to vote after the amendment, the citizens of Perth Amboy raised $70 to award him with a gold medal. The medal which was designed with a gold-bar and a clean shaven Abraham Lincoln was given to him on Memorial Day, May 30, 1884.

Presently, March 31 is annually celebrated in New Jersey as Thomas Mundy Peterson Day in honor of his historic vote.


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Written by Monsurat

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