PBS KIDS GO! African American World
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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.

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