End of the War

In 1864, Lincoln ran for re-election and won. He made sure his party platform called on Congress to secure the final, formal abolition of slavery (which would lead to ratification of the 13th Amendment in late 1865). The war dragged on until April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. Six days later, President Lincoln was assassinated.

As the country mourned the loss of the president, as well as the 750,000 Americans who died during the fighting, a formal process to deal with the aftermath of the war and emancipation began. Soon blacks across the South made their intentions known as they organized mass meetings demanding equality before the law, the right to vote, and equal access to schools, transportation, and other public accommodations. Since few in the South or North accepted black equality, the subsequent years were turbulent.

Freedom — The 13th Amendment

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially made slavery illegal, except as punishment for a crime. Many newly freed people celebrated President Lincoln as a savior and posted his picture in their homes. While there was much to celebrate, many challenges and obstacles to full equality remained unresolved.