Illustration of a persecuted African American man looking up with caption “Am I not a man and a brother?”

The Civil War confirmed the single political entity of the United States, led to freedom for more than four million enslaved Americans, established a more powerful and centralized federal government, and laid the foundation for America's emergence as a world power in the 20th century.

Though freedom did not lead to equality for former slaves, the Civil War initiated immense constitutional changes that re-defined the nature of American society and acted as a point of departure in the struggle for equal civil and human rights.

Showing results 6-10 of 10

  • Photo of Niagara Movement members, including W.E.B. DuBois (seated), at Niagara Conference in Harpers Ferry

    To combat the injustices of Jim Crow laws and legal segregation, W.E.B. Du Bois and other leading civil rights advocates created the Niagara Movement and held their first public meeting at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, invoking the spirit of John Brown. Read more

  • Picture depictsing former slaves and free blacks voting following the passage of the 15th amendment

    During Reconstruction, the Federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves. Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting divergent definitions. Faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, however, the government abandoned efforts for black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites. Read more

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site

    The First African American Graduate of West Point

    In 1877 Henry O. Flipper became the first African American to ever graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. However, his image was soured by events four years later when he was dismissed from the Army, and for 117 years his court martial tarnished his good name. Read more

  • Photo of African American refugee family

    Roanoke Island is most famous for its "Lost Colony" of the 1580s, but 280 years later was the scene of another bold experiment on a new frontier. Following its capture by Union forces in 1862, Roanoke Island became the site of a Freedmen's Colony for newly freed African Americans, where education and a new way of living could be experienced. Read more

  • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

    Why Was Andrew Johnson Impeached?

    Photo of President Andrew Johnson

    Whether post-war Reconstruction of the Union would be lenient towards the former Confederacy, as favored by President Johnson, or harsh, as promoted by the Republican-controlled Congress, boiled over into a clash of wills that resulted in the first impeachment of an American president. Read more

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