In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to
free all slaves. Slaves became free during the Civil War (1861-1865) between
the North and South over slavery and the power of states to decide certain rights.
African Americans who had been slaves now could work as they liked and did not have
to worry about being sold away from their families. They soon became citizens and
were given the right to vote. Many were elected to Congress or state legislatures.