ALERT: Dome Restoration Project Necessitates Rotunda Closure April 12 through April 28.
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Though African Americans fought in previous wars, they were not legally allowed to fight for the U.S. until 1862. With growing resistance to the draft and a demand for additional troops, Congress recognized the need for black soldiers and sailors. The Militia Act of 1862 allowed President Abraham Lincoln to recruit African-American men for military service. Some 198,000 African Americans fought in the Civil War—for the Union, for freedom, and for their right to full citizenship.