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 16-13 of 13

  • 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

  • Photo of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, with Shaw on horseback accompanying his 54th Massachusetts Infantry

    The individuality of the figures in the Shaw Memorial is one of the monument's most striking and affecting characteristics. This version is on display at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site near Cornish, New Hampshire. Read more

  • Antietam National Battlefield

    What Comes Out of Antietam

    Photograph of President Lincoln and General McClellan at Antietam

    With a victory at Antietam, President Lincoln could make a major legislative move. Read more

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