Lead: On July 17, 1862, during the Civil War, the U.S. Congress passed the Militia Act. African-Americans became an official part of the Federal military establishment.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Under a 1792 law, blacks officially were barred from army service, not permitted to enlist. Despite this prejudice blacks had served in both the American Revolution and would serve in the War of 1812. In mid-1862, the Lincoln Administration, sensing the need to expand strengthen the Union Army, took the first steps allowing blacks to enter service. The Militia Act permitted colored soldiers to serve in “any military or naval service for which they may be found competent.”