The United States Civil War - American History
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American Civil War

Slaves in Alabama
Men and women and kids working
as slaves in Alabama (1861)

May 2016 - In the 1850s AD, as cotton-growing became more and more important, white people in the southern part of the United States were getting more and more angry with rich people who lived in the North. One reason was that these northern rich people were getting richer from new factories they were building, and the southern rich people were not. Southerners were growing the cotton, but Northerners were spinning and weaving the cotton into cloth.

Poor people were coming from all over Europe to work in the northern factories, spinning and weaving, but in the South rich land-owners still forced African-American people to work as slaves in their big cotton and tobacco fields. People in the North wanted to make the southern land-owners free these people, because they thought slavery was unfair. The African-Americans wanted to be free too! But the Southern land-owners were afraid that ending slavery would just make the South even poorer, and the North would still be rich. That seemed unfair to them. Poor white people in the South also didn't like the idea that Northerners would tell them what to do.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

In 1860, the men who could vote elected Abraham Lincoln to be president (but no women, or people who had recently arrived in the United States, or Native Americans, or enslaved African-Americans were allowed to vote). Lincoln was a northerner, and he saw things in a Northern way. This made the southern people so angry and afraid that they decided to split off from the United States and form their own country, which they called the Confederacy.

Here's a good video explaining major issues of the Civil War

The states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee were in the Confederacy, and parts of Missouri and Kentucky. Mostly these were the states where it was legal to own slaves, but there were four states (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri) where slavery was legal that decided not to join the Confederacy.

Learn by doing: play this game to learn where the states are
The end of the Civil War

Bibliography and further reading about the Civil War:

The end of the Civil War Slavery
American History home

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 29 March, 2017