African Americans in the American Civil War

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In the history of the United States, African Americans have always been discriminated against. When Africans first came to America, they were taken against their will and forced to work as laborers. They became slaves to the rich, greedy, lazy Americans. They were given no pay and often badly whipped and beaten. African Americans fought for their freedom, and up until the Civil War it was never given to them. When the Civil War began, they wanted to take part in fighting to free all slaves. Their opportunity to be soldiers and fight along side white men equally did not come easily, but eventually African Americans proved themselves able to withstand the heat of battle and fight as true American heroes.

The road to freedom from slavery was a long and hard for the African Americans. In the northern states the Civil War began as a fight against the succession of the Confederate states from the Union. Abraham Lincoln, who was President at this time, wanted to save the nation by bringing the southern states back to the Union, but this "Great Emancipator'; ironically did not have much intention of freeing the slaves. His greatest interest lie in preventing a war from occurring. However, even he could not stop the outbreak of the Civil War (Fincher).

With the war just beginning, ex-slaves and other African Americans wanted to get in on the action. They wanted to fight against those who had enslaved them and their families for generations. They began volunteering and trying to enlist, but everywhere they went they were rejected. "In general, white soldiers and officers believed that black men lacked the courage to fight and fight well'; (History of African-Americans in the Civil War). Even some abolitionists believed putting them in the battlefield would be putting African Americans higher than they should be. They said that though blacks should not be enslaved, they should not be equal to the white male. The African Americans, however, refused to give up their fight to be allowed to defend their country with pride.

Pressure from blacks eager to fight, from abolitionists and from a few Army officers who needed men, as well as changing circumstances, eventually altered Lincoln's policy. Along the way, convoluted legal questions involving the Constitution and slaves as property had to be got around (Fincher).

President Lincoln was being bombarded...

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...ud moment that would never be forgotten.

African Americans had won their own war. They had successfully fought for their rights to fight along side white soldiers and had won equal rights as soldiers. Though the road to equality would last well into the next century, blacks had proven themselves to be worthy opponents in battle. They had shown the nation that they too could fight bravely and hold their ground. Because of this, their ability to fight as soldiers would never be questioned again.


Allen, Thomas B. The Blue and the Gray. Washington DC: National Geograpic Society, 1992.

"Black Soldiers, Union". The American Civil War: A Multicultural Encyclopedia. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Education Corp, 1994.

Carle, Gleen L. "The First Kansas Colored';: American Heritage. 43 Feb/March 1992: 78.

Fincher, John. "The Hardest Fight was Getting into the Fight at All';: Smithsonian. 21 Oct 1989: 46

History of African-Americans in the Civil War.'; (April 14,1999)

Smith, Page. Trail by Fire: A People's History of the Civil War and Reconstruction. USA: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1982.

Ward, Geoffrey C. The Civil War. NewYork: Alfred A Knoff Inc, 1990.

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