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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives wish to recognize David A. Strother's legacy
4on voting rights in the State of Illinois and the United
5States; and
6    WHEREAS, David A. Strother, once widely believed to have
7been the first Black man to vote in the United States as a
8result of the addition of the Fifteenth Amendment to the
9Constitution, was certainly the first to vote in Illinois on
10April 4, 1870; and
11    WHEREAS, David Strother was born to Henry and Leah in
12Lexington, Missouri on August 18, 1843, the son of slaves who
13bought their freedom; he worked as a cook's assistant on a
14Mississippi steamer; he served as a civilian cook with Company
15G, 17th Illinois Infantry, of the Union Army during the Civil
16War; at the urging of 44 local area men of Troop G, he settled
17in El Paso; he became a barber and set up a chair in the corner
18of an insurance and justice of the peace's office in January
191864; he was soon reunited with his mother and his brother,
20Charles, who joined him at his new barber shop; and
21    WHEREAS, El Paso then operated under a special charter
22approved by Governor Richard Oglesby in 1867; Article XV of



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1the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect on March 30,
21870, stating that the right of citizens to vote shall not be
3denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of
4servitude; the following Monday, April 4, was El Paso's city
5election, held one day prior to almost all others; and
6    WHEREAS, David Strother, accompanied to the polls by Mayor
7James Wathen, was initially rebuffed by election officials
8unaware of the new law; after election judges were shown a copy
9of the amendment, he returned to the polls at the judges'
10behest, where apologies were made; he proceeded to cast his
11vote, and his brother voted soon after; and
12    WHEREAS, News of David Strother's historic vote was spread
13by Gersh Martin, El Paso's newspaper editor, who telegraphed
14the news to the Associated Press, and soon people all over the
15United States were reading about the barber who had cast the
16then believed first Black vote; and
17    WHEREAS, David Strother continued to live in El Paso for
18the remainder of his life, passing shortly after suffering a
19heart attack on March 12, 1905; his loss was keenly felt by the
20El Paso community, who remembered him for his generosity and
21gentlemanly conduct; and
22    WHEREAS, David Strother's vote on April 4, 1870 marked him



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1as not only one of the first Black men to vote in the United
2States but also marked a milestone on the path to equality for
3our State and the country; therefore, be it
6we recognize David Strother's legacy on voting rights in the
7State of Illinois and the United States.