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        African-Americans | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Explore images highlighting the lives of African-Americans during the Civil War. By 1861, the pressure between the Northern and Southern 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. The term “contraband” was used to describe those individuals who had escaped slavery in the south to the north.

        "Auction and Negro Sales," Whitehall Street | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Photo of a black Union soldier posted at a slave auction house in Atlanta, Georgia, ca. 1864, after General Sherman's successful Atlanta Campaign. Photo credit: George N. Barnard (1819-1902). Library of Congress, Prints & Photo. Div.

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        African-American Army Cook at Work | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        An image of an African-American army cook at work in City Point, Virginia, during the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        African-Americans Collecting Bones of Soldiers Killed in Battle | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        African-Americans collect the bones of soldiers killed in battle for burial, Cold Harbor, Virginia, April 1865. Photo credit: John Reekie. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        African-Americans Preparing Cotton for the Gin | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Seven African-Americans prepare cotton for the gin on Smith's plantation, Port Royal Island, South Carolina, 1862. Photo credit: Timothy H. O'Sullivan (1840-1882). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Five Generations on Smith's Plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Five generations of an African-American family on Smith's plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862. Photo credit: Timothy H. O'Sullivan (1840-1882). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Servants at Quarters of the Prince de Joinville | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Four male servants with a wash tub, frying pan, etc., at quarters of the Prince de Joinville, in the vicinity of Yorktown, Virginia, May 1862. Photo credit: James F. Gibson (1828-?). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Barges with African-Americans on the Canal | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        African-American refugees in a boat with their household belongings, and the ruined buildings Richmond, Virginia in the background, 1865. Photo credit: Alexander Gardner (1821-1882). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Frederick Douglass | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass, ca. 1855. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rubel Collection.

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        Dred Scott | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Oil on canvas portrait of Dred Scott by Louis Schultze, 1888. Missouri Historical Society Museum Collections. [Photograph of the portrait by David Schultz, 1999; NS 23864; Photograph and scan, Missouri Historical Society, copyright 1999-2006.]

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        Arrival of First African-American Family within Federal Lines, 1863 | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        The first African-American family arrives by wagon within Federal lines, January 1, 1863. Photo credit: D. B. (David B.) Woodbury (1839-1866). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Guard House and Guard, 107th US Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        The Union Army's 107th U.S. Colored Infantry Guard and guard house at Fort Corcoran [Arlington, Virginia], near Washington, DC, November, 1865. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Black Regiment in Lesson | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        In some black regiments, officers and civilian volunteers added lessons in reading and writing to the new skills taught to their recruits: several of these men hold primers in their laps, ca. 1861-1865. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        "Contrabands," Culpeper, VA | Ken Burns: The Civil War

        Two African American men sitting in front of a tent, one with cigar and the other with a soup ladle, Culpeper, Virginia, November 1863. Photo credit: Timothy H. O'Sullivan (1840-1882). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Quartermaster's Wharf, Alexandria, VA| Ken Burns: The Civil War

        African-American laborers at work on the Union Quartermaster's Wharf in Alexandria, Virginia, ca. 1861-1865. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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