Frederick Douglass, April 6, 1863
The Emancipation Proclamation triggered the formation of the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war, more than 186,000 African Americans joined the U.S. armed forces. Of these, an estimated 93,542 black soldiers were former slaves who understood firsthand the nation’s fight for freedom. Even as black soldiers fought and died, their citizenship status remained uncertain. Racist policies limited opportunities for black soldiers to become line officers and paid them lower wages than whites.