Constitutional provision enacted by seven Southern U.S. states (1895–1910) to deny suffrage to African American men. It exempted descendants of men who voted before 1867 from meeting new literacy and property requirements. Since African American men were not granted voting rights until passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, this clause effectively prevented them, and many impoverished and illiterate whites, from voting. The U.S. Supreme Court declared such clauses unconstitutional in 1915.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on grandfather clause, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up grandfather clause? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.