The American Journey © 2007

Chapter 16: The Civil War

Chapter Overviews

From 1861 to 1865 the United States was torn apart by a great civil war. The North held advantages in miles of railroad, food production, banking, and manufacturing. The South had brilliant military leaders, a knowledge of the land, and a fierce desire to preserve the Southern way of life. The First Battle of Bull Run showed both sides that this would be a long, difficult conflict.

On the home front both Northerners and Southerners faced deprivations and hardships. The South, however, saw homes, fields, and livelihoods destroyed. Many Northern and Southern women took on new responsibilities. Some people were opposed to the war, and riots over draft laws broke out in several Northern cities. Overall, the North's industrial economy boomed during the war, while the South's agricultural economy suffered terribly.

From the start, the Northerners' main goal was to preserve the Union rather than to destroy slavery. As the war went on, however, Northern attitudes began to change. Many believed that slavery was helping the war effort in the South. On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people in the Confederacy. This action convinced antislavery Britain and France not to support the Confederacy. In July of that year battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg marked a turning point in the war. By the spring of 1865, Union forces were able to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The long, terrible conflict had ended.

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