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On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the rebelling territories of the confederacy and authorizing Black enlistment in the Union Army. Since the beginning of the Civil War, free Black people in general, , were ready to fight on behalf of the Union, yet they were prevented from doing so. Popular racial stereotypes and discrimination against Blacks in the military contributed to the prevailing myth that Black men did not have the intelligence and bravery necessary to serve their country. By the fall of 1862, however, the lack of White Union enlistment and confederate victories at Antietem forced the U.S. government to reconsider its racist policy. As Congress met in October to address the issue of Black enlistment, various troops of Black volunteers had already been organized, including the First South Carolina and the Kansas Colored Troops.
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