Photograph by
Tobias, William R., American, 1849 - 1920
Subject of
Peterson, Thomas, American, 1824 - 1904
collodion and silver on printing-out paper
H x W: 7 × 5 in. (17.8 × 12.7 cm)
On March 31, 1870, one day after the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which allowed him the right to vote, Thomas Peterson became the first African American to cast a ballot in a U.S. election under the provisions of the 15th Amendment. The citizens of Perth Amboy, N.J. were voting to settle a disagreement over whether to revise the town charter or abandon it in favor of a township form of government.
A cabinet card of Thomas Peterson. Peterson is looking at the camera and wearing a three-piece suit with a medal attached to the left side of the vest. The medal was presented to Peterson in 1884 by the residents of Perth Amboy, N.J. in recognition of his status as the first African American voter in the United States under the provisions of the Fifteenth Amendment. The albumen print is attached to a stiff card backer with wear showing around the edges. There is a printed label on the verso that reads, "Inscription on the Medal. Presented by citizens of Perch Amboy, N.J., to Thomas Peterson, the first colored voter in the United States under the provisions of the Fifteenth Amendment, at an election held in that city March 31st, 1870." The cabinet card was printed as a memento for the medal presentation ceremony.
Place made
Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States, North and Central America
Slavery and Freedom Objects
cabinet photographs
collodion prints
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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