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The American Civil War: Before the Us Became a Nation

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20 07 2018

The American Civil War: Before the US Became a Nation

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States of America, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. It involved the “Confederate States”, which were Southern states that wanted to secede from the US, and the “Union”, which was made up of the United States Government and the states that remained loyal to it. Underlying causes of the war, include the growing tension over Northern and Southern states over sectional differences on slavery; and the assertion of state freedoms against the power of the national governemnt to ban slavery. (Etcheson; Hassler & Weber).

Before the resolution of the Civil War, the United States was divided as a country. There was little to tie the country together, other than a shared history of the Founding Fathers, a loose allegiance to the national government, and a few national institutions such as churches and political parties. The loosely tied structure of the United States allowed major functions of government to operate at the state/local level, and gave more freedom for states, localities and groups more freedom to operate their own ways. However, with advances in technology and the economy, different elements of the country started to be brought into closer contact. Transportation and communicated facilitated travel to other places; allowed faster spreading of information; and made more people aware of what was going on in other states (Hassler & Weber).

During the years leading to the Civil War, the anti-slavery movement had been gaining more and more traction among Northerners. This may have been driven by a sense of morality, or an interest in protecting free labor. The anti-slavery campaign had threatened Southerners, as their economy heavily relied on of slaves as a main labor force, for the mass production of commercial cotton and tobacco. Moreover, the ownership of slaves in the Southern states, equated to political and social status. By contrast, the economy of the Northern states had been rapidly shifting to industrialization from 1815 to 1861, and slavery, as an institution, had become less relevant (Etcheson; Hassler & Weber).

In the 1860 presidential elections, the Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, supported the banning of slavery in the United States. The election of Abraham Lincoln thus triggered seven Southern states to secede and form the Confederate States of America. In a few more weeks, four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy. On the other hand, the Union was mostly composed of Northern states where slavery was illegal, and border states where slavery was legal. The War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces



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