The Civil War is fought after southern states secede amidst concerns over the preservation of slavery. Thousands of slaves who escaped during the conflict are declared "contraband of war" and serve the Union war effort; 250,000 African-Americans served as soldiers.

Slavery abolished in the District of Columbia.

The Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation took effect January 1, legally freeing slaves in areas of the South in rebellion.

The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Infantry , an all black unit of the Union Army distinguishes itself in the attempt to take Battery Wagner near Charleston, SC. The unit's William H. Carney becomes the first African-American to ear the Congressional Medal of Honor.

African American Union troops finally earn equal pay and equipment.

On October 4, the New Orleans Tribune began publication. The Tribune was one of the first daily newspapers produced by blacks.

Wisconsin, Minnesota and Connecticut vote to deny suffrage to blacks.

Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment. Slavery would be outlawed in the United States by the Thirteenth Amendment, which Congress approved and sent on to the states for ratification on January 31.

The Freedmen's Bureau. On March 3, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau to provide health care, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves.

On April 15, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery, was ratified on December 18.