The Civil War (1861-1865), fought largely over the future of slavery in the United States, marked a watershed in the nation's history, particularly for African Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, Union victory at War and the subsequent Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution promised a new dawn for the South's four million freed men, women and children.
But in the 1870s, as Reconstruction faltered and the Freedmen's Bureau retreated, the gains made by African Americans were pealed back, replaced by the discriminatory policies marking the "Jim Crow" era. Reconstruction had failed, and the long battle for Civil Rights in the United States had begun. It culminated, one hundred years after the Civil War, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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