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The Roots and the Rise of the Civil War

The war spanned four years – but it was decades in the making.

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The U.S. Civil War was fought between the North and the South of the U.S., from 1861 to 1865. Many people think the Civil War was about slavery, but there were many reasons for the conflict. Eleven states in the South tried to leave the United States and form their own country – called the Confederacy – but the North did not accept this. The Confederacy believed each state had the right to leave, and those who stayed did not. So, why did the South decide to leave the Union?

Society

The first European colonies were based on farming. By the late 1700s, the Industrial Revolution had begun. New machines were invented, and factories were built. People in the North moved to cities to work in factories and other jobs like trade and finance. Meanwhile, farming was still the main occupation in the South. Big cities grew in the North, while the South stayed rural.

As life in the two areas changed, their cultures grew more different.

Money

Cotton was the main crop grown in the South. As the saying went, “cotton is king.” If the crops didn’t do well, farmers had to borrow money from the North – or even overseas. Success in the South was mostly tied to farming cotton, while the North was more stable.

State’s Rights

The cities of the North wanted a stronger federal government with less power for the states. Rural people who lived farther from the nation’s capital city wanted more power for states.

Slavery

As the North did less farming, it didn’t need slavery to make money. In the South, cotton farmers still relied on slaves.

The North wanted to abolish slavery across the U.S., but the South didn’t think the federal government should have the power to tell it what to do.

As the nation grew, each new state had to join the Union as free or slave. This caused conflict to grow between the two sides.

Two Nations Grown Apart

The North and the South had different cultural beliefs and ways of making money. They had different views on whether slavery was okay and who should have the power to decide. The Confederates felt the government that ruled them did not represent them, so they decided to break away and form a new nation. President Lincoln refused to allow secession, and the Union fought to make the former states rejoin. It was called the Second Revolution – but this time, the new nation lost.

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