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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Death and DyingThe somber aftermath of Civil War battles introduced Americans–North and South–to death on an unprecedented scale and of an unnatural kind, often ending in an unmarked grave far from home. Neither individuals, nor institutions, nor governments were prepared to deal with death on such a massive scale, for never before or since have we killed so many of our own. The Civil War revolutionized the American military’s approach to caring for the dead, leading to our modern culture of reverence for military death.HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARKNiagara Movement – Cornerstone of the Modern Civil Rights MovementTo combat the injustices of Jim Crow laws and legal segregation, W.E.B. Du Bois and other leading civil rights advocates created the Niagara Movement and held their first public meeting at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, invoking the spirit of John Brown.FORT RALEIGH NATIONAL HISTORIC SITEThe Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke IslandRoanoke 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.FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITEAfrican Americans in the Frontier ArmyFollowing the Civil War, permanent African American regiments were constructed in the United States Army. Although segregated due to race, these regiments served with honor and distinction, and helped to tame the Wild West.FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITEThe First African American Graduate of West PointIn 1877 Henry O. Flipper became the first African American to ever graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. However, his image was soured by events four years later when he was dismissed from the Army, and for 117 years his court martial tarnished his good name.ANDREW JOHNSON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITEWhy Was Andrew Johnson Impeached?Whether post-war Reconstruction of the Union would be lenient towards the former Confederacy, as favored by President Johnson, or harsh, as promoted by the Republican-controlled Congress, boiled over into a clash of wills that resulted in the first impeachment of an American president.BOOKER T WASHINGTON NATIONAL MONUMENTA Time of ReckoningThough the end of the Civil War brought the 13th Amendment, ending slavery and providing emancipation for more than four milllion enslaved people, the Reconstruction era during which Booker T. Washington came of age witnessed legislation that attempted to limit African Americans’ new found freedoms.Abraham Lincoln: The War Years 1861-1865No president up to that point in American history was called on to be commander-in-chief like Abraham Lincoln. From monitoring the War Department telegraph office to selecting of commanding generals and developing military strategy, Lincoln guided the nation through its darkest hour.MAGGIE L WALKER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITEMaggie L. WalkerMaggie L. Walker led the African American community of Richmond, Virginia, in many aspects. She was involved in the struggle for civil rights and maintained her successful banking and newspaper businesses and charitable societies.ReconstructionDuring Reconstruction, the Federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves. Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting divergent definitions. Faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, however, the government abandoned efforts for black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites.