South Carolina Constitutional Convention adopted new constitution with "understanding clause" designed to eliminate Black voters.
In the 1890s, southern states began to systematically and completely disfranchise black males by imposing voter registration restrictions, such as literacy tests, poll taxes, the grandfather clause, and the white primary (only whites could vote in the Democratic Party primary contests). Such provisions did not violate the Fifteenth Amendment because they applied to all voters regardless of race. In reality, however, the provisions were more strictly enforced on blacks, especially in those areas dominated by lower-class whites. The so-called "understanding clause," which allowed illiterate, white voters to register if they understood specific texts in the state constitution to the satisfaction of white registrars, was widely recognized to be a loophole provision for illiterate whites. It was crafted to protect the suffrage of those whites who might otherwise have been excluded from voting by the literacy qualification for registering to vote. In point of fact, tens of thousands of poor white farmers were also disfranchised because of non-payment of the poll tax, for which there were no loopholes provided.