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

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

Cotton and factories

In the 1850s ADcotton-growing was getting more and more important. And white people in the southern part of the United States were getting more and more angry with rich people who lived in the North.

Slavery and the cotton gin
New textile factories
American clothing in the 1800s
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One reason was that these northern rich people were getting richer from new factories they were building. But the southern rich people were not. Southerners were growing the cotton, but Northerners were spinning and weaving the cotton into cloth.

Immigration and slavery

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.

African-American slavery
History of tobacco
Where did cotton come from?

Why did the Civil War start?

People in the North wanted to make the southern land-owners free these people. They knew that slavery was unfair. The African-Americans wanted to be free too!

Why did the South fight?

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.

Why did poor white Southerners fight?

Poor white people in the South also didn’t like the idea that Northerners would tell them what to do. And poor white people didn’t like the idea that black people would be the same as them.

Abraham Lincoln

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).

The Cherokee Trail of Tears

Southern states try to leave the Union

Lincoln was a northerner, and he saw things in a Northern way. His election made the southern people so angry and afraid that they decided to split off from the United States. They formed their own country, which they called the Confederacy.

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

Which states joined the Confederacy?

The states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee were in the Confederacy. Parts of Missouri and Kentucky joined too.

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

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