37¢ Executive Order 9981
To Form a More Perfect Union
Issue Date: August 27, 2005
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10.75 x 10.5
Early American laws barred blacks from the military, but in times of war, white leaders recruited both slave and free blacks. The Continental Army had 5,000 African-Americans, and at least 216,000 black men served in the Union forces during the Civil War.
In that war, blacks suffered unequal pay, promotion, supplies, and services. “Jim Crow” discrimination in the military continued for decades after the Civil War.
Even so, large numbers of African-Americans still volunteered to fight for their country. One million African-Americans served in the military during World War II. Many black servicemen hoped their military service would earn them equal status in U.S. society. When they returned home, they were impatient with continuing anti-Negro discrimination and violence.
Black leaders pressed President Harry Truman to end military segregation. Truman was aware how important the black vote was to his Democratic Party. He knew that integration would also help America win Cold War allies among Third World countries.
On July 26, 1948, Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ordering “...equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”