African Americans
In the Service of the Union

At the outset of the Civil War, even free blacks were barred from military service because of a federal law dating from 1792 (blacks had, however, served in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812). The passage of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1,1863, repealed the earlier law, allowing blacks to serve as soldiers in the United States Army. At no time were black men drafted or paid bounties. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut were the first states to form "colored" regiments; New York did not form a colored regiment until 1864.

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"American Slavery Has No Foundation in the Scriptures," a sermon by Reverend William Boole, Jan. 13, 1861.