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Causes of the Civil War

Causes of the Civil War

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1. How did the shots fired at Fort Sumter begin the Civil War?
2. Why did eleven southern states ultimately secede from the Union?
3. What was Lincoln's position on slavery before the outbreak of the war?
4. What was Abraham Lincoln's foremost goal in the Civil War?
5. What were the main consequences of the Civil War?


1. The Confederate attack on Union-controlled Fort Sumter in South Carolina provoked President Abraham Lincoln to order thousands of troops to crush the insurrection. For Lincoln, war had finally become necessary to preserve the Union.
2. South Carolina's secession in 1860 was largely a response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. His goals posed a significant threat to the economic and political interests of the slaveholding south. South Carolina's action immediately triggered the secession of six states in the Deep South, which became eleven states total by the end of the war.
3. Lincoln never vowed to abolish slavery, and was originally willing to compromise with southern issues on the issue. However, he did promise to oppose the expansion of slavery, a commitment that was a new development in United States politics and that threatened the existing slaveholding power structure.
4. Lincoln's goal in the Civil War was not to abolish slavery, but to preserve the Union. His actions against the Confederate States were driven by a desire to recover the seceded territories.
5. 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and the battlefields left much of the American landscape destroyed. In the wake of its loss, the South faced exponential inflation, a crippled economy, and the demise of its political power. However, the war also solidified the Union, strengthened the federal government, and eliminated the institution of slavery forever.