The Declaration of Independence stated that “all men are created equal,” but it did not deal with the difficult issue of slavery in the United States. The differences between the North and the South on slavery eventually led to the Civil War (1861-1865).

President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, as the Nation was in the middle of the Civil War. The final proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states during the Civil War "are, and henceforth shall be free." The slaves in Confederate states that were rebelling against the Union—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, sections of Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and sections of Virginia—would now be free.