• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

Emancipation and the Quest for Freedom

Color painting of a Union soldier reading the Emancipation Proclamation to a slave family.

With the end of the Civil War came the end of slavery in the United States. Legally and constitutionally, the war resolved the single most important moral question that afflicted the young republic and hampered the emergence of the country as a moral and economic leader on the world stage.

For millions of enslaved Americans, however, the end of the war was the beginning of a complex and difficult journey. Many were persecuted for their efforts to achieve and sustain true freedom. The quest for equality by former slaves, their descendants, and other Americans of color was an issue left undecided by the war.

Showing results 16-20 of 23

  • The Changing War

    Woodcut of spectators watching a train station set fire by Sherman's troops

    Begun as a purely military effort with the limited political objectives of reunification (North) or independence (South), the Civil War transformed into a social, economic and political revolution with unforeseen consequences. As the war progressed, the Union war effort steadily transformed from a limited to a hard war; it targeted not just Southern armies, but the heart of the Confederacy's economy, morale, and social order-the institution of slavery. Read more

  • Antietam National Battlefield

    The Emancipation Proclamation

    A recruiting poster showing a Union soldier and a banner

    Toward the end of the Civil War's second year, Abraham Lincoln made added the abolition of slavery to the restoration of the Union as the principal war aims of the North along by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in the South and strike a blow to the Confederate economy. Read more

  • The Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island

    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

  • Antietam National Battlefield

    The Legacy of the Maryland Campaign

    Photograph of the US Colored Infantry

    The Maryland Campaign had a major impact on the release of the Emancipation Declaration and how many of those newly freed men enlisted to save the Union. Read more

  • The Military Experience

    Engraving of soldier warming himself by a fire  Photo of U.S. Sanitary Commission office.

    The course of the war was the cumulative result of political, economic, and social policies that affected (and were affected by) military operations and battles waged across a front spanning 2,000 miles. The battles and campaigns of 1861-65 ultimately demonstrated that the simple application of massive military force, even with innovations in technologies and tactics, was insufficient to resolve a conflict between two sections mobilized against one another politically, socially, philosophically, economically, and emotionally. Read more

Tags: Civil War, Emancipation