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A poll-tax petition from 1930s Tennessee.

This is a petition sponsored by the Committee for Progressive Legislation of the Tennessee Legislative Congress. It, and others like it, were circulated to protest poll taxes that were legislated in the post-Reconstruction South. Poll taxes were used to disenfranchise African Americans. “Grandfather clauses” provided a loophole for poor white citizens: If one’s family could have been registered to vote in the 1860 election, one would not need to pay the poll tax.