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LBJ Signs 24th Constitutional Amendment, Abolishes Poll Tax

Feb. 4, 1964 - President Johnson hailed “the triumph of liberty over restriction” today as the 24th Amendment, abolishing the poll tax formally, became part of the U.S. Constitution. The document certifying that three-fourths of the states of the union had ratified the amendment was signed in the Cabinet Room of the White House after breakfast as members of Congress and labor leaders looked on. It was the first time that a Constitutional amendment had been certified in the presence of a President. Mr. Johnson also signed the three-page document as a witness after Bernard Boutin, administrator of the General Services Administration, had certified it.

“Today, the people of this land have abolished the poll tax as a condition for voting,” Mr. Johnson declared. “By this act, they have reaffirmed the simple but unbreakable theme of this Republic: Nothing is so valuable as liberty, and nothing is so necessary to liberty as the freedom to vote without bans or barriers.” With this amendment, the President continued, “there can be no one too poor to vote.” “There is no longer a tax on his rights,” he said. “The only enemy to voting that we face today is indifference. Too many of our citizens treat casually what other people in other lands are ready to die for.”

South Dakota, on Jan. 23, became the 38th and decisive state to ratify the amendment. Mr. Johnson handed the first pen he used to witness the certification to Senator Spessard Holland, the Florida Democrat who was the principal sponsor of the amendment.


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