Explore images highlighting the lives of African Americans during the Civil War. By 1861, the pressure between the Northern and Southern United States exploded into a Civil War. Southern leaders, claiming states’ rights, were threatened by the anti-slavery stance of many Northern states and the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. Dred Scott had attempted to sue the United States for his freedom, and lost. The great orator and writer Frederick Douglass, a former slave living in the North, became a leader in social reform and the abolitionist movement. African Americans would fight in Northern regiments. And the term “contraband” was used to describe those individuals who had escaped slavery in the south to the north.