Following the Civil War, former Confederates were barred from voting in West Virginia and the voting rights of African-Americans were not assured. The divergent issues were brought together in the Flick Amendment. It happened as the control of Radical Republicans eroded in the newly formed state. As a result of the October 1869 elections, several Liberal Republicans (also known as Let Ups) were elected to the legislature. Hoping to offset the growth of Democrats, they offered a constitutional amendment that would empower both blacks and former rebels. Named for William H.H. Flick, a newly elected Liberal Republican from Pendleton County, the proposed amendment was submitted to the voters in the election of April 17, 1871.
Passing with a vote of 23,546 for and 6,323 against, the Flick Amendment turned out to be of no consequence for African-Americans since the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted the right to vote regardless of color or previous condition of servitude, had been ratified in 1870. What remained, ironically, was the re-enfranchisement of former Confederates. The provisions of the Flick Amendment were incorporated into the new Constitution of 1872. Liberal Republicans had hoped the amendment would eliminate some of the divisions within the Republican Party. However, the opposite occurred. The amendment split the party further while enfranchising many Democrats. This, in turn, led to a quarter-century of Democratic dominance in state politics.
Read about the Flick Amendment in 1871 editions of the Wheeling Intelligencer : Newspaper editorials.
Written by I. D. "Duke" Talbott
Ambler, Charles H. & Festus P. Summers. West Virginia: The Mountain State. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1958.
Rice, Otis K. & Stephen W. Brown. West Virginia: A History. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.
Callahan, James M. Semi- Centennial History of West Virginia. Charleston: Semi-Centennial Commission, 1913.