B. Civil War: A Period of Transition


Many Blacks began to associate their freedom and liberty with the Civil War. Thus, Blacks took a greater interest in the War and went to lengths to promote Union victory. Some Blacks organized raiding parties, built supplies and fortifications along coasts and up rivers, while others served as spies for the Union Army. In April 1, 1861, when President Lincoln issued a call for volunteers for the war, Blacks rushed to offer their services. Some slaves left plantations to enlist. By the end of the War, it is estimated that more than 186,000 Blacks were enrolled in the Union army. Critics could not argue that Blacks did not fight for their freedom as more than 38,000 Blacks died in the war and the mortality rate was forty percent more than that of White soldiers.


As the war dragged on, the connection between fighting the war and gaining freedom for Blacks became increasingly clear. In the South, in 1862, Blacks who were enlisted in the Confederate army received certificates of emancipation. Also, in 1863, to hasten an end to the war, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared that all slaves in states still in rebellion would be set free. The end of the war, in 1865, brought a close to the institution of slavery and marked a victory for the pursuit of life, liberty and access for African Americans.