A Lesson before Dying Historical Context

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Black Civil Rights in the Late 19th Century

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, was the first step towards freeing slaves. With the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln declared that slaves would be freed in any Confederate states that did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863. While the Emancipation Proclamation didn't set slaves free immediately, it did commit the Union to ending slavery. Congressional Acts after that date granted blacks various civil rights. In 1866 and 1870, blacks received the rights to sue, be sued, and own property. With these rights, blacks gained the "privileges" of white citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in 1868, further extended black privileges, making former slaves eligible for citizenship. The Fifteenth Amendment gave blacks the right to vote and prevented state or federal governments from denying any citizen of this right on the basis of race. Blacks received further acceptance through the Civil Rights Act of...

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