The American Civil War was a major conflict fought in the United States between 1861 and 1865. Fought between the northern Union and southern [[Confederates]], the Civil War was primarily a dispute over whether [[slavery]] would be permitted to expand into the western territories of America. The Confederates seceded in their fear that The North would successfully bar slavery's expansion, which would put it on a path of ultimate political extinction in the United States. The primary causes of the Civil War were rooted in the deep-seated political, economic, and social differences between the North and the South. Central to these differences was the issue of slavery, with the North increasingly opposing its expansion into new territories and advocating for its eventual abolition, while the South defended it as essential to their agrarian-based economy and way of life. ## Abraham Lincoln and secession The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860 was seen by many Southerners as a direct threat to their interests, as he was a member of the anti-slavery Republican Party. In response, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union in December 1860, followed by six other Southern states. These states formed the Confederate States of America, with [[Jefferson Davis]] as their president. The war officially began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The Union, led by President [[Abraham Lincoln]], sought to preserve the United States and bring the seceded states back into the Union, while the Confederacy aimed to establish itself as an independent nation. The Civil War was marked by numerous significant battles, including Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg, among others. The war was characterized by its large-scale loss of life, with an estimated 620,000 to 750,000 soldiers killed and many more injured. New military technologies, such as rifled muskets and ironclad warships, contributed to the high casualties and devastation experienced by both sides. ## Emancipation Proclamation The [[Emancipation Proclamation]], issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declared that all enslaved people in the Confederate states were to be set free. This shifted the focus of the war to include not only the preservation of the Union but also the abolition of slavery as a central objective. The tide of the war began to turn in favor of the Union in 1863, and by 1865, Confederate forces were weakened and demoralized. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. The consequences of the Civil War were far-reaching and transformative for the United States. The war resulted in the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery, with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the [[Constitution]] in 1865. However, the war also left the nation deeply divided, with the South devastated economically and politically. The post-war period, known as [[Reconstruction]], aimed to reintegrate the Southern states into the Union and secure [[civil rights]] for newly freed African Americans but was marked by continued racial tensions and conflict -- many of which arguably continue to this day. See also: [[Reconstruction Timeline]], [[Jim Crow]], [[Civil Rights Act]], [[Great Society]], [[Brown v. Board of Education]], [[Conservative Resurgence]], [[✳️ Events Home]], [[Political Violence in the U.S. Timeline]]