In the mid-1800s, the economies of many northern states had moved away from farming to industry (factories). A lot of people in the North worked and lived in large cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The southern states, however, had maintained a large farming economy (plantations) and this economy was based on slave labour. While the North no longer needed slaves, the South relied heavily upon slaves for their way of life.
As the United States continued to expand westward, each new state added to the country shifted the power between the North and the South. Southern states began to fear they would lose so much power that they would lose all their rights. Each new state became a battleground between the two sides for power.
At the heart of much of the South's issues was slavery. The South relied on slavery for labor to work the fields. Many people in the North believed that slavery was wrong and evil. These people were called abolitionists. They wanted slavery made illegal throughout the United States. Abolitionists such as John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe began to convince more and more people of the evil of slavery. This made the South fearful that their way of life would come to an end.
The first fighting over the slavery issue took place in Kansas. In 1854, the government passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowing the residents of Kansas to vote on whether they would be a slave state or a free state. The region was flooded with supporters from both sides. They fought over the issue for years. Several people were killed in small skirmishes giving the confrontation the name Bleeding Kansas. Eventually Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861.
The final straw for the South was election of Abraham Lincoln to President of the United States. Abraham Lincoln was a member of the new anti-slavery Republican Party. He managed to get elected without even being on the ballot in ten of the southern states. The southern states felt that Lincoln was against slavery and also against the South.
Vote for Abraham Lincon
When Lincoln was elected, many of the southern states decided they no longer wanted to be a part of the United States. They felt that they had every right to leave. Starting with South Carolina, eleven states would eventually leave the United States and form a new country called the Confederate States of America. Abraham Lincoln said they did not have the right to leave the United States and sent in troops to stop the South from leaving. The Civil War had begun.