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.

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    Last updated: April 23, 2015