War and Conflict

American Civil War

How did the Civil War begin and end?

Unhappy with the outcome of the 1860 presidential election, in which Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was elected, and fearing a loss of their agrarian way of life, the Southern states began to make good on their promise to secede if Lincoln won the presidency: South Carolina was the first (in December of that year). In January 1861 five more states followed: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. When representatives from the six states met the next month in Montgomery, Alabama, they established the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis (1808–1889) president. Two days before Lincoln’s inauguration, Texas joined the Confederacy. (Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee joined in April, shortly after the Civil War had already begun.)

The Civil War, also called the War of Secession and the War between the States, began on April 12, 1861, when Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter, a U.S. military post in Charleston, South Carolina. Brutal fighting continued for four years. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) surrendered his ragged Confederate troops to General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) of the Union at old Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The war had not only been between the states, it had also been between brothers: the conflict divided the nation. The Civil War took more American lives than any other war in history.

The 1863 Battle of Gettysburg is considered the turning point in the American Civil War.

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