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President Abraham Lincoln brought the issue of freedom to the forefront of the Civil War when he delivered the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet on September 22, 1862, a few days after the bloody Battle of Antietam. The proclamation stated that slaves in any of the states in rebellion against the Union would be freed if the states had not returned to the Union by January 1, 1863. After that, nearly 180,000 black soldiers enlisted to fight the Confederates until the end of the war.