Encyclopedia Britannica

  • Entertainment & Pop Culture
  • Geography & Travel
  • Health & Medicine
  • Lifestyles & Social Issues
  • Philosophy & Religion
  • Politics, Law & Government
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Visual Arts
  • World History
  • On This Day in History
  • Biographies
  • Top Questions
  • Week In Review
  • Infographics
  • Demystified
  • Image Galleries
  • One Good Fact
  • Britannica Explains In these videos, Britannica explains a variety of topics and answers frequently asked questions.
  • Britannica Classics Check out these retro videos from Encyclopedia Britannica’s archives.
  • #WTFact Videos In #WTFact Britannica shares some of the most bizarre facts we can find.
  • This Time in History In these videos, find out what happened this month (or any month!) in history.
  • Demystified Videos In Demystified, Britannica has all the answers to your burning questions.
  • Student Portal Britannica is the ultimate student resource for key school subjects like history, government, literature, and more.
  • COVID-19 Portal While this global health crisis continues to evolve, it can be useful to look to past pandemics to better understand how to respond today.
  • 100 Women Britannica celebrates the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, highlighting suffragists and history-making politicians.
  • Britannica Beyond We’ve created a new place where questions are at the center of learning. Go ahead. Ask. We won’t mind.
  • Saving Earth Britannica Presents Earth’s To-Do List for the 21st Century. Learn about the major environmental problems facing our planet and what can be done about them!
  • SpaceNext50 Britannica presents SpaceNext50, From the race to the Moon to space stewardship, we explore a wide range of subjects that feed our curiosity about space!
  • Introduction & Top Questions

Prelude to war

What caused the American Civil War?

Who won the american civil war, who were the most important figures in the american civil war, why are confederate symbols controversial, should statues honoring the american civil war be taken down, should the federal government pay reparations to the descendants of slaves as intended after the american civil war.

American Civil War

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Battle of Gettysburg

Recent News

The American Civil War was the culmination of the struggle between the advocates and opponents of slavery that dated from the founding of the United States. This sectional conflict between Northern states and slaveholding Southern states had been tempered by a series of political compromises, but by the late 1850s the issue of the extension of slavery to the western states had reached a boiling point. The election of Abraham Lincoln , a member of the antislavery Republican Party , as president in 1860 precipitated the secession of 11 Southern states, leading to a civil war.

The Union won the American Civil War. The war effectively ended in April 1865 when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The final surrender of Confederate troops on the western periphery came in Galveston, Texas, on June 2.

How many people died during the Civil War?

It is estimated that from 752,000 to 851,000 soldiers died during the American Civil War. This figure represents approximately 2 percent of the American population in 1860. The Battle of Gettysburg , one of the bloodiest engagements during the Civil War, resulted in about 7,000 deaths and 51,000 total casualties.

Important people during the American Civil War included Abraham Lincoln , the 16th president of the United States, whose election prompted the secession of Southern states; Jefferson Davis , the president of the Confederacy ; Ulysses S. Grant , the most successful and prominent general of the Union; and Robert E. Lee , Grant’s counterpart in the Confederacy.

The modern usage of Confederate symbols, especially the Confederate Battle Flag and statues of Confederate leaders, is considered controversial because many associate such symbols with racism , slavery , and white supremacy . The flag was revived as a popular symbol in the 1940s and ’50s by the Dixiecrat Democratic splinter group and others who opposed the American civil rights movement .

Whether statues honoring the American Civil War or other controversial ideas should be taken down is widely debated. Some argue the statues misrepresent history and are a painful reminder of the past, while other statues would better represent the county. Others argue the statues are part of the country's history that do not cause racism but could educate people, and removal of one statue is a slippery slope to taking down any statue anyone disagrees with. For more on the debate on historical statue removal, visit ProCon.org .

Whether the federal government should pay reparations to the descendants of slaves as intended after the American Civil War is hotly debated. Some say the wealth and health disparities caused by slavery should be addressed and other groups have been paid reparations. Others say reparations would be too difficult to implement, and slavery is long over so reparations would further divide the country. For more on the reparations debate, visit ProCon.org .

American Civil War , also called War Between the States , four-year war (1861–65) between the United States and 11 Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.

The secession of the Southern states (in chronological order, South Carolina , Mississippi , Florida , Alabama , Georgia , Louisiana , Texas , Virginia , Arkansas , Tennessee , and North Carolina ) in 1860–61 and the ensuing outbreak of armed hostilities were the culmination of decades of growing sectional friction over slavery . Between 1815 and 1861 the economy of the Northern states was rapidly modernizing and diversifying. Although agriculture—mostly smaller farms that relied on free labour—remained the dominant sector in the North, industrialization had taken root there. Moreover, Northerners had invested heavily in an expansive and varied transportation system that included canals, roads, steamboats, and railroads; in financial industries such as banking and insurance; and in a large communications network that featured inexpensive, widely available newspapers, magazines, and books, along with the telegraph.

Inspection and Sale of a Negro

By contrast, the Southern economy was based principally on large farms (plantations) that produced commercial crops such as cotton and that relied on slaves as the main labour force . Rather than invest in factories or railroads as Northerners had done, Southerners invested their money in slaves—even more than in land; by 1860, 84 percent of the capital invested in manufacturing was invested in the free (nonslaveholding) states. Yet, to Southerners, as late as 1860, this appeared to be a sound business decision. The price of cotton, the South’s defining crop, had skyrocketed in the 1850s, and the value of slaves—who were, after all, property—rose commensurately. By 1860 the per capita wealth of Southern whites was twice that of Northerners, and three-fifths of the wealthiest individuals in the country were Southerners.

1860 presidential campaign

The extension of slavery into new territories and states had been an issue as far back as the Northwest Ordinance of 1784. When the slave territory of Missouri sought statehood in 1818, Congress debated for two years before arriving upon the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This was the first of a series of political deals that resulted from arguments between pro-slavery and antislavery forces over the expansion of the “peculiar institution,” as it was known, into the West. The end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 and the roughly 500,000 square miles (1.3 million square km) of new territory that the United States gained as a result of it added a new sense of urgency to the dispute. More and more Northerners, driven by a sense of morality or an interest in protecting free labour, came to believe, in the 1850s, that bondage needed to be eradicated . White Southerners feared that limiting the expansion of slavery would consign the institution to certain death. Over the course of the decade, the two sides became increasingly polarized and politicians less able to contain the dispute through compromise. When Abraham Lincoln , the candidate of the explicitly antislavery Republican Party , won the 1860 presidential election , seven Southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) carried out their threat and seceded, organizing as the Confederate States of America .

Bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina April 12, 1861 as Confederate forces open fire on the nearly completed U.S. federal garrison on a man-made island in South Carolina's Charleston harbor. American Civil War initial engagement

In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, rebels opened fire on Fort Sumter, at the entrance to the harbour of Charleston , South Carolina. Curiously, this first encounter of what would be the bloodiest war in the history of the United States claimed no victims. After a 34-hour bombardment, Maj. Robert Anderson surrendered his command of about 85 soldiers to some 5,500 besieging Confederate troops under P.G.T. Beauregard . Within weeks, four more Southern states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) left the Union to join the Confederacy.

American Civil War: Union army volunteer

With war upon the land, President Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen to serve for three months. He proclaimed a naval blockade of the Confederate states, although he insisted that they did not legally constitute a sovereign country but were instead states in rebellion. He also directed the secretary of the treasury to advance $2 million to assist in the raising of troops, and he suspended the writ of habeas corpus , first along the East Coast and ultimately throughout the country. The Confederate government had previously authorized a call for 100,000 soldiers for at least six months’ service, and this figure was soon increased to 400,000.

What Were the Top 4 Causes of the Civil War?

The question “what caused the U.S. Civil War ?” has been debated since the horrific conflict ended in 1865. As with most wars, however, there was no single cause.

Pressing Issues That Led to the Civil War

The Civil War erupted from a variety of long-standing tensions and disagreements about American life and politics. For nearly a century, the people and politicians of the Northern and Southern states had been clashing over the issues that finally led to war: economic interests, cultural values, the power of the federal government to control the states, and, most importantly, slavery in American society.

While some of these differences might have been resolved peacefully through diplomacy, the institution of slavery was not among them.

With a way of life steeped in age-old traditions of white supremacy and a mainly agricultural economy that depended on the labor of enslaved people, the Southern states viewed enslavement as essential to their very survival.

Slavery in the Economy and Society

At the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the enslavement of people not only remained legal in all 13 British American colonies, but it also continued to play a significant role in their economies and societies.

Prior to the American Revolution, the institution of slavery in America had become firmly established as being limited to persons of African ancestry. In this atmosphere, the seeds of white supremacy were sown.

Even when the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, very few Black people and no enslaved people were allowed to vote or own property.

However, a growing movement to abolish slavery had led many Northern states to enact abolitionist laws and abandon enslavement. With an economy based more on industry than agriculture, the North enjoyed a steady flow of European immigrants. As impoverished refugees from the potato famine of the 1840s and 1850s, many of these new immigrants could be hired as factory workers at low wages, thus reducing the need for enslaved people in the North.

In the Southern states, longer growing seasons and fertile soils had established an economy based on agriculture fueled by sprawling plantations owned by White people that depended on enslaved people to perform a wide range of duties.

When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became very profitable. This machine was able to reduce the time it took to separate seeds from the cotton. At the same time, the increase in the number of plantations willing to move from other crops to cotton created an even greater need for enslaved people. The Southern economy became a one-crop economy, depending on cotton and, therefore, on enslaved people.

Though it was often supported throughout the social and economic classes, not every White Southerner enslaved people. The population of the pro-slavery states was around 9.6 million in 1850   and only about 350,000 were enslavers.   This included many of the wealthiest families, a number of whom owned large plantations. At the start of the Civil War, at least 4 million enslaved people   were forced to live and work on the Southern plantations.

In contrast, industry ruled the economy of the North and less emphasis was on agriculture, though even that was more diverse. Many Northern industries were purchasing the South's raw cotton and turning it into finished goods.

This economic disparity also led to irreconcilable differences in societal and political views.

In the North, the influx of immigrants—many from countries that had long since abolished slavery—contributed to a society in which people of different cultures and classes lived and worked together.

The South, however, continued to hold onto a social order based on white supremacy in both private and political life, not unlike that under the rule of racial apartheid that persisted in South Africa for decades .

In both the North and South, these differences influenced views on the powers of the federal government to control the economies and cultures of the states.

States and Federal Rights

Since the time of the American Revolution , two camps emerged when it came to the role of government. Some people argued for greater rights for the states and others argued that the federal government needed to have more control.

The first organized government in the U.S. after the Revolution was under the Articles of Confederation. The 13 states formed a loose Confederation with a very weak federal government. However, when problems arose, the weaknesses of the Articles caused the leaders of the time to come together at the Constitutional Convention and create, in secret, the U.S. Constitution .

Strong proponents of states rights like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were not present at this meeting. Many felt that the new Constitution ignored the rights of states to continue to act independently. They felt that the states should still have the right to decide if they were willing to accept certain federal acts.

This resulted in the idea of nullification , whereby the states would have the right to rule federal acts unconstitutional. The federal government denied states this right. However, proponents such as John C. Calhoun —who resigned as vice president to represent South Carolina in the Senate—fought vehemently for nullification. When nullification would not work and many of the Southern states felt that they were no longer respected, they moved toward thoughts of secession.

Pro-slavery States and Free States

As America began to expand—first with the lands gained from the Louisiana Purchase and later with the Mexican War —the question arose of whether new states would be pro-slavery states or free states. An attempt was made to ensure that equal numbers of free states and pro-slavery states were admitted to the Union, but over time this proved difficult.

The Missouri Compromise passed in 1820. This established a rule that prohibited enslavement in states from the former Louisiana Purchase north of the latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes, with the exception of Missouri.

During the Mexican War, the debate began about what would happen with the new territories the U.S. expected to gain upon victory. David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso in 1846, which would ban enslavement in the new lands. This was shot down amid much debate.

The Compromise of 1850 was created by Henry Clay and others to deal with the balance between pro-slavery states and free states. It was designed to protect both Northern and Southern interests. When California was admitted as a free state, one of the provisions was the Fugitive Slave Act . This held individuals responsible for harboring freedom-seeking enslaved people, even if they were located in free states.

The  Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was another issue that further increased tensions. It created two new territories that would allow the states to use popular sovereignty to determine whether they would be free states or pro-slavery states. The real issue occurred in Kansas where pro-slavery Missourians, called "Border Ruffians," began to pour into the state in an attempt to force it toward slavery.

Problems came to a head with a violent clash at Lawrence, Kansas. This caused it to become known as " Bleeding Kansas ." The fight even erupted on the floor of the Senate when anti-slavery proponent Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was beaten on the head by South Carolina Sen. Preston Brooks.

The Abolitionist Movement

Increasingly, Northerners became more polarized against enslavement. Sympathies began to grow for abolitionists and against enslavement and enslavers. Many in the North came to view enslavement as not just socially unjust, but morally wrong.

The abolitionists came with a variety of viewpoints. People such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass wanted immediate freedom for all enslaved people. A group that included Theodore Weld and Arthur Tappan advocated for emancipating enslaved people slowly. Still others, including Abraham Lincoln, simply hoped to keep slavery from expanding.

A number of events helped fuel the cause for abolition in the 1850s.  Harriet Beecher Stowe  wrote " Uncle Tom's Cabin ," a popular novel that opened many eyes to the reality of enslavement. The Dred Scott Case  brought the issues of enslaved peoples' rights, freedom, and citizenship to the Supreme Court.

Additionally, some abolitionists took a less peaceful route to fighting against slavery. John Brown and his family fought on the anti-slavery side of "Bleeding Kansas." They were responsible for the Pottawatomie Massacre, in which they killed five settlers who were pro-slavery. Yet, Brown's best-known fight would be his last when the group attacked Harper's Ferry in 1859, a crime for which he would hang.

The Election of Abraham Lincoln

The politics of the day were as stormy as the anti-slavery campaigns. All of the issues of the young nation were dividing the political parties and reshaping the established two-party system of Whigs and Democrats.

The Democratic party was divided between factions in the North and South. At the same time, the conflicts surrounding Kansas and the Compromise of 1850 transformed the Whig party into the Republican party (established in 1854). In the North, this new party was seen as both anti-slavery and for the advancement of the American economy. This included the support of industry and encouraging homesteading while advancing educational opportunities. In the South, Republicans were seen as little more than divisive.

The presidential election of 1860 would be the deciding point for the Union. Abraham Lincoln represented the new Republican Party and Stephen Douglas , the Northern Democrat, was seen as his biggest rival. The Southern Democrats put John C. Breckenridge on the ballot. John C. Bell represented the Constitutional Union Party, a group of conservative Whigs hoping to avoid secession.

The country's divisions were clear on Election Day. Lincoln won the North, Breckenridge the South, and Bell the border states. Douglas won only Missouri and a portion of New Jersey. It was enough for Lincoln to win the popular vote, as well as 180 electoral votes .

Even though things were already near a boiling point after Lincoln was elected, South Carolina issued its "Declaration of the Causes of Secession " on December 24, 1860. They believed that Lincoln was anti-slavery and in favor of Northern interests.

President James Buchanan's administration did little to quell the tension or stop what would become known as " Secession Winter ." Between Election Day and Lincoln's inauguration in March, seven states seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

In the process, the South took control of federal installations, including forts in the region, which would give them a foundation for war. One of the most shocking events occurred when one-quarter of the nation's army surrendered in Texas under the command of General David E. Twigg. Not a single shot was fired in that exchange, but the stage was set for the bloodiest war in American history.

Edited by Robert Longley

DeBow, J.D.B. "Part II: Population." Statistical View of the United States, Compendium of the Seventh Census . Washington: Beverley Tucker, 1854. 

De Bow, J.D.B. " Statistical view of the United States in 1850 ." Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson. 

Kennedy, Joseph C.G. Population of the United States 1860: Compiled from the Original Returns of the 8th Census . Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1864.

why did the civil war happen essay

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

A Brief Overview of the American Civil War

This painting portrays Union soldiers waving the American flag, high above the violent battle going on beneath.

The Civil War is the central event in America's historical consciousness. While the Revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States, the Civil War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation it would be. The war resolved two fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slaveholding country in the world.

Northern victory in the war preserved the United States as one nation and ended the institution of slavery that had divided the country from its beginning. But these achievements came at the cost of 625,000 lives--nearly as many American soldiers as died in all the other wars in which this country has fought combined. The American Civil War was the largest and most destructive conflict in the Western world between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the onset of World War I in 1914.

Portrait photograph of Abraham Lincoln

The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries.

The event that triggered war came at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay on April 12, 1861. Claiming this United States fort as their own, the Confederate army on that day opened fire on the federal garrison and forced it to lower the American flag in surrender. Lincoln called out the militia to suppress this "insurrection." Four more slave states seceded and joined the Confederacy. By the end of 1861 nearly a million armed men confronted each other along a line stretching 1200 miles from Virginia to Missouri. Several battles had already taken place--near Manassas Junction in Virginia, in the mountains of western Virginia where Union victories paved the way for creation of the new state of West Virginia, at Wilson's Creek in Missouri, at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and at Port Royal in South Carolina where the Union navy established a base for a blockade to shut off the Confederacy's access to the outside world.

But the real fighting began in 1862. Huge battles like Shiloh in Tennessee, Gaines' Mill , Second Manassas , and Fredericksburg in Virginia, and Antietam in Maryland foreshadowed even bigger campaigns and battles in subsequent years, from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania to Vicksburg on the Mississippi to Chickamauga and Atlanta in Georgia. By 1864 the original Northern goal of a limited war to restore the Union had given way to a new strategy of "total war" to destroy the Old South and its basic institution of slavery and to give the restored Union a "new birth of freedom," as President Lincoln put it in his address at Gettysburg to dedicate a cemetery for Union soldiers killed in the battle there.

Alexander Gardner's famous photo of Confederate dead before the Dunker Church on the Antietam Battlefield

For three long years, from 1862 to 1865, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia staved off invasions and attacks by the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by a series of ineffective generals until Ulysses S. Grant came to Virginia from the Western theater to become general in chief of all Union armies in 1864. After bloody battles at places with names like The Wilderness , Spotsylvania , Cold Harbor , and Petersburg , Grant finally brought Lee to bay at Appomattox in April 1865. In the meantime Union armies and river fleets in the theater of war comprising the slave states west of the Appalachian Mountain chain won a long series of victories over Confederate armies commanded by hapless or unlucky Confederate generals. In 1864-1865 General William Tecumseh Sherman led his army deep into the Confederate heartland of Georgia and South Carolina, destroying their economic infrastructure while General George Thomas virtually destroyed the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee at the battle of Nashville . By the spring of 1865 all the principal Confederate armies surrendered, and when Union cavalry captured the fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia on May 10, 1865, resistance collapsed and the war ended. The long, painful process of rebuilding a united nation free of slavery began.

Learn More:  This Day in the Civil War

why did the civil war happen essay

"Through Storm and Sunshine": Valorous Vivandières in the Civil War

why did the civil war happen essay

From Snowballs to Cannonballs 

Morgan's Raiders

John H. Morgan’s Christmas Raid

Explore the american civil war.


Why Did The Civil War Start? Essay

Essay souths seccesion and start of civil war.

If asking an average person on what started the Civil War, one would probably answer with slavery. However, there were several other reasons for why the Civil War took place. The South wanted to succeed mainly for the same reason the Colonies succeeded from British Powers. The South wanted their independence. The South wanted to escape the tariffs that were being placed on them by Andrew Jackson, just as the British were putting tariffs on the colonies. The tariffs created a very hostile atmosphere that was pushing the states’ decisions to secede from the Union. These tariffs would reduce the amount of money the South could take in, because foreign countries could not afford to buy much cotton because lack of their exported income from the tariffs. Vice President, John Calhoun proposed that the states have the right to nullify a federal law that not only can protect the welfare of the states but it also violated the Constitution. Once Calhoun proposed this nullification, to the South it became clear that the North could wield power that could damage the South’s economy. The South believed that they were fighting against a tyrannical government that the North were subjugating and enslaving them. The South really disliked the high taxes, which isn’t it one of the main reasons that our previous generations fought against in the Revolutionary

The Battle of Fort Sumter Essay

“On March 4, 1861 Lincoln was inaugurated, promising the seceding states that he would use force only “to hold, occupy, and possess the

Slavery as the Cause of the American Civil War Essay example

The Civil War was caused by many several pressures, principles, and prejudices, fueled by sectional differences, and was finally set into motion by a most unlikely set of political events. From economic differences to political differences all the way up to cultural differences, the North and the South opposed each other. These tensions were further increased after the western expansion of the United States. By the early 1850’s a civil war was known to be likely coming soon.

The First Battle Of Bull Run Essay

On July 21, 1861, two armies, one confederate and the other Union, prepared for the first major land battle of the Civil War. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President.

What Are The Causes Of The Civil War Dbq

The Civil War was caused by the economics of slavery and the political control of that system, specifically being states’ rights on the federal powers of the government, the territorial expansion of the united states that led to the division of the two sides, and the election of President Abraham Lincoln which was the final event that sent the nation to war.

The First Battle of Bull Run Essay examples

The causes of the civil war.

In 1861, a Civil War broke out in the United States when the South declared their independence from the Union. There is a great amount of reasons that people can argue how the Civil War was started. However, what most people don’t understand, is that most of the events leading up to the Civil War were related to slavery. Slavery was the core of the North and South’s conflict, which led to a very vicious feud.

Main Causes Of The Civil War Essay

The civil war is an important event in the history of the United States. It began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General opened fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and lasted until May 26,1865, when the last Confederate army surrendered . All aspects of the war have been a topic of concern to the academic community, especially in the United States. In my opinion, the civil war not only important for American, but also important for the world. Here I will show you the main causes of the Civil War.

As President of The United States, Lincoln wanted to keep these seceding Southern states to remain a part of America. He felt that the union was not just an arrangement to govern over the states, but it indeed symbolized the future of American freedom where slavery would be abolished for good and protected the rights of every human being. When the Confederates decided to attack Fort Sumter, a Union fort, in April of 1861, the peace broke. This attack was known to have started the American Civil

The causes of the Civil War were complex and have been controversial since the country began. Some causes include; states’ rights, economics, and slavery. The most recognizable and popular cause is slavery. The freeing of the slaves was an important moral issue at the time and one of the greatest causes of the civil war. "It was only by carefully avoiding the moral issue involved in slavery that Northerners and Southerners could meet on any common ground." (Goldston, 79). The time came in which our great country would finally address the moral issue of slavery. Although there are many different causes to the American Civil War, the main cause was slavery because other causes are rooted in the issue of slavery.

Civil War Essay: The Major Contributing Factors to the Civil War

If asked, most people would blame as the cause of the civil war the issue of slavery. This is understandable; many people in the U.S. at the time were against slavery, going to far as to help runaway slaves escape to the free north. But, while slavery at face value was a major factor, international politics and economics played a major role. Several factors, including the election of Lincoln, the raid on Harper 's Ferry, the Dred Scott decision, and, most importantly, the fugitive slave law, contributed to the growing rift between the North and South and, eventually, the Civil War.

Why Did George Mclellan Win The Civil War

Taking after the withdrawal of seven states from the Union in 1861, various government fortifications were seized by the leaving states. In Charleston harbor, one of the remaining Union fortifications was Fort Sumter. Exactly when President Lincoln taught South Carolina that the Union was sending courses of action to the fortress, Southerners deciphered it as strongholds. The Southerners ambushed Fort Sumter with firearms on April 12, 1861. This strike on Sumters left the Union vanquished, yet impelled an engaging soul in the North. Exactly when Lincoln requested seventy-five militiamen from the state's, locals enthusiastically volunteered. It allowed the North to gather troops that would win the Civil War for the Union. (435, 436)

The Impact Of The Emancipation Proclamation

Washington D.C., summer 1862. The Civil War had been going on for over a year, and it was not going well for Abraham Lincoln. 11 of the 15 southern states where slavery was legal had formed the Confederate States of America (CSA) and were waging a war to break free from the United States. Lincoln was determined that the nation was not going to fall apart on his watch. During the first year of the civil war, the Confederate Army had won the majority of important battles. When Lincoln became president, he had had no intention of abolishing slavery. Though he personally despised slavery and had won the presidency on an anti-slavery platform, he would gladly have given up any chance of ending slavery in the South if it meant that the Confederate states would rejoin the United States.

Freed African Americans During The Civil War

The southern states of the United States of America were outraged when Abraham Lincoln was elected the President. South Carolina was the first state to secede and six more states – Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana - followed shortly afterwards, creating the Confederate States. In one of Lincoln’s addresses, which outlined that his main priority was to maintain the Union, did not impress the Confederacy and on April 12, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold in Charleston, South Carolina. The Federal troops returned the fire, thus starting the Civil War. As the Civil War continued on, African Americans were biding their time, waiting for the perfect moment to flee their masters. Many did, making

The American civil war: causes and conflicts Essay

The American Civil War, which began in 1861 to 1865, has gone down in history as the one of the most significant events to have ever occurred in the United States of America, thus far. At that time, questions had arose wondering how the United States ever got so close to hitting rock bottom, especially being that it was a conflict within the country itself. Hostility steadily grew through the years dividing the nation further and further, and finally leading to the twelfth day in April 1861 in Fort Sumter, North Carolina. The American Civil War was an irrepressible battle and aside from the obvious physical effects of the war, the disagreement over states rights, the act of slavery, and the raising of tariffs played crucial roles in the

Related Topics

Home — Essay Samples — History — History of the United States — Civil War

why did the civil war happen essay

Essays on Civil War

The 1861 to 1865 civil war between the northern and southern states of america, the civil war between the northern and southern states of america, the issues of state rights in the civil war, the civil war in america, the civil war – a sectional fight between north and south, civil war reconstruction, reconstruction's disappointment after the civil war, african americans during the civil war, an analysis of the reason for participating in the american civil war, the factors of civil war according to oates, the battle in gettysburg during the american civil war, in fact, the problem of slavery in america was not the cause of the civil war, how elite's efforts to maintain their social status has influenced the civil war, the north won the deadliest american civil war, civil war causes: westward expansion, compromise failure & south’s fear, the role of women spies in the civil war, the aftermath after american civil war: the result of reconstruction, historical memory and historical narrative in spain, free compare and contrast the two poetry sets portraying war, a research of harriet tubman – a heronie in the struggle against slavery, world war i as a turning factor in african history, the role of systemic oppression in shaping civil wars, killer angels and the cultural civil war, plot summary and review of liberty's fire, the story of first lieutenant thomas jonathan jackson, the civil war and what it meant for arkansas, cotton and the civil war, an alternative side of the civil war in cold mountain by charles frazier, the human body as a site of traumatic narrative in ambrose bierce and stephen crane’s civil war stories, depiction of the civil war in cold mountain by charles frazier, feeling stressed about your essay.

Get professional help in 5 minutes


April 12, 1861 - April 26, 1865

United States

Confederate States of America, United States

Battle of Antietam, Fort Pillow Massacre, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack, Battle of Monocacy

James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Richard S. Ewell

American Civil War, also called War Between the States, was a four-year civil war fought between the United States and the Confederate States of America. The conflict was the costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American land.

The central cause of the war was the extension of slavery into new territories and states as a result of the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican–American War. When Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election, seven Southern states (South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas) have been organized as the Confederate States of America.

Fort Sumter became the site of the first shots of the Civil War. Four more southern states – Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee – joined the Confederacy after Fort Sumter. President Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen to serve for three months. Lincoln insisted that the Confederate states was not legally a sovereign country, but were instead states in rebellion.

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” after January 1, 1863. In fact, it made ending slavery a war goal.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle marked the turning point of the Civil War. After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863.

The war ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. By the end of the war, much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed, especially its railroads.

After the Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, and four million enslaved black people were freed. The triumph of the North was partly due to the statesmanship of Lincoln. Following the American Civil War began the Reconstruction era.

Top 10 Similar Topics

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

why did the civil war happen essay


  1. Why did the American civil war happen?

    why did the civil war happen essay

  2. Civil War Essay

    why did the civil war happen essay

  3. Scholarly Series 'America's Civil War' Set to Begin

    why did the civil war happen essay

  4. The English Civil War

    why did the civil war happen essay

  5. Why the Civil War Actually Ended 16 Months After Lee Surrendered

    why did the civil war happen essay

  6. Civil War Essay

    why did the civil war happen essay


  1. what if the USA was in the civil war? #capcut ((it's for learning process))

  2. Patreon Request: What if Civil War Happen In The DC Universe?

  3. #shorts Unsling Carbine

  4. How Many Dresses did Civil War Women Own?

  5. Causes of Civil War

  6. History Student Reacts to Why did the English Civil War Happen? by Kings and Generals


  1. American Civil War

    What caused the American Civil War? The American Civil War was the culmination of the struggle between the advocates and opponents... Who won the American Civil War? The Union won the American Civil War. The war effectively ended in April 1865 when Confederate... Who were the most important figures in the American Civil War?

  2. What Were the Top 4 Causes of the Civil War?

    What Were the Top 4 Causes of the Civil War? While there were many causes of the U.S. Civil War, slavery was the common thread tying them together and ultimately leading to succession and war. While there were many causes of the U.S. Civil War, slavery was the common thread tying them together and ultimately leading to succession and war. Menu Home

  3. A Brief Overview of the American Civil War

    The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states.

  4. Why Did The Civil War Start? Essay

    The causes of most wars are often very complex, but in the America civil war it came down to two major issues, slavery and the protection of the Union. In the North, they were growing richer all the time as industry developed fast. The workers were mostly immigrants with low wages.

  5. Essays on Civil War

    The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern and Southern states of America. The forces fighting were the Union in the North and the Confederacy in the South. The main reason for war was the controversy involving slavery. The North fighting... Civil War American Civil War American History Topics: