The American Civil War started in 1861, after years of growing tensions involving the northern and southern states around slavery, states’ sovereignty, and expansionism of the West. After Abraham Lincoln’s victory in 1860, seven southern states seceded to create the Confederate States of America; four additional states quickly followed.
As the Civil War was commonly called, the War Between the States concluded in 1865 with the submission of the Confederate States of America. The fight was the most expensive and bloodiest on American territory, with about 620,000 of 2.4 million men killed, millions more maimed, and most of the South devastated.
While the United States was enjoying remarkable expansion in the mid-nineteenth century, a basic economic divide persisted between the nation’s northern and southern areas.
The economy north was based on industry and manufacturing, with agriculture generally restricted to small-scale farms. In contrast, the economy of the South was comprised of large-scale farming that relied on the workforce of Black American enslaved individuals to cultivate particular crops, most notably cotton and tobacco.
After the 1830s, growing abolitionist agitation in the northern hostility to slavery’s expansion into the western territories caused several southern people to feel that slavery’s survival in America and hence the cornerstone of their economy was under threat.
Notably, the War was inevitable due to the economic imbalance of America during that period. Since slavery received constant rebuttals from activists, the Southerners could no longer reap from farming since they relied on enslaved people for their services. As a result, the ill feeling developed in the country unavoidably sparked the battle.
The American Civil War was a slow-progressing war fueled by tensions from different events in the nation. However, the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 proved to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Consequently, within months, seven southern states, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, had declared their independence from the United States due to the decision.
In March 1861, Confederate soldiers were threatening the federally controlled Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, even as Lincoln became the president. Following Lincoln’s command to send a navy to reinforce Fort Sumter, Confederate arsenals opened fire, marking the beginning of the American Civil War.
Confederate troops captured Fort Sumter under the direction of Pierre G.T. Beauregard only about two days after the assault, and its captain, Major Robert Anderson, conceded defeat less than two days after the attack.
Following the Battle of Fort Sumter, four additional southern states Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, joined the Confederacy. Although border slave states such as Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland did not separate, there was a great deal of Confederate sentiment among their populations.