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U.S. History Part One:  Civil War

The Civil war unit will be our final unit of the course.  We will test on Friday, May 8. Then we begin review for our post test on Friday, May 15 which functions similarly to an SOL test.

While there is a lot of content on the Civil War in the SOL, I know I have lot of students who are very interested and want to go deeper.  With our limited class time, I cannot go much deeper, but encourage students to use the resources below to learn much more.


Issues that divided the nation

– While there were several differences between the North and the South, the issues related to slavery increasingly divided the nation and led to the Civil War.
Cultural issues
– The North was mainly an urban society in which people held jobs in cities.
– The South was primarily an agricultural society in which people lived in small villages and on farms and plantations.
– Because of their cultural differences, people of the North and South found it difficult to agree on social and political issues.
Economic issues
– The North was a manufacturing region, and its people favored tariffs that protected factory owners and workers from foreign competition.
– The South was largely agricultural. Southerners opposed tariffs that would cause prices of manufactured goods to increase. Planters were also concerned that Great Britain might stop buying cotton from the South if tariffs were added.
Constitutional issues
– A major conflict was states’ rights versus strong central government.

An important issue separating the country related to the power of the federal government. Southerners believed that they had the power to declare any national law illegal. Northerners believed that the national government’s power was supreme over that of the states. Southerners felt that the abolition of slavery would destroy their region’s economy. Northerners believed that slavery should be abolished for moral reasons.

Compromises attempting to resolve differences
Missouri Compromise (1820): Missouri entered the Union as a slave state; Maine entered the Union as a free state.
Compromise of l850: California entered the Union as a free state. Southwest territories would decide the slavery issue for themselves.
Kansas-Nebraska Act: People in each state would decide the slavery issue (―popular sovereignty).

Southern secession
Following Lincoln’s election, the southern states seceded from the Union. Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, marking the beginning of the Civil War. Lincoln and many Northerners believed that the United States was one nation that could not be separated or divided. Most Southerners believed that the states had freely created and joined the union and could freely leave it.

States that seceded from the Union
Alabama North Carolina Arkansas South Carolina Florida Tennessee Georgia Texas Louisiana Virginia Mississippi

States that remained in the Union Border states (slave states)
– Delaware – Maryland
– Kentucky – Missouri

 Free states
– California – New Hampshire
– Connecticut – New Jersey
– Illinois – New York
– Indiana – Ohio
– Iowa – Oregon
– Kansas – Pennsylvania
– Maine – Rhode Island
– Massachusetts – Vermont
– Michigan – West Virginia*
– Minnesota – Wisconsin
*Note: Western counties of Virginia that refused to seceed from the Union

Roles of Civil War leaders

 Abraham Lincoln
– Was president of the United States
– Opposed the spread of slavery
– Issued the Emancipation Proclamation
– Determined to preserve the Union, by force if necessary
– Believed the United States was one nation, not a collection of independent states
– Wrote the Gettysburg Address that said the Civil War was to preserve a government ―of the people, by the people, and for the people.‖

Jefferson Davis
– Was president of the Confederate States of America

Ulysses S. Grant
– Was general of the Union army that defeated Lee

Robert E. Lee
– Was leader of the Army of Northern Virginia
– Was offered command of the Union forces at the beginning of the war, but chose not to fight against Virginia
– Opposed secession, but did not believe the Union should be held together by force
– Urged Southerners to accept defeat at the end of the war and reunite as Americans when some wanted to fight on

 Thomas ―Stonewall‖ Jackson
– Was a skilled Confederate general from Virginia

Frederick Douglass
– Was an enslaved African American who escaped to the North and became an abolitionist

Major battles and events
The firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., began the war.
The first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was the first major battle.
The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation made ―freeing the slaves‖ the new focus of the war. Many freed African Americans joined the Union army.
The Battle of Vicksburg divided the South; the North controlled the Mississippi River. The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the war; the North repelled Lee’s invasion.
 Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House in 1865 ended the war.

Influence of location and topography on critical developments in the war
The Union blockade of southern ports (e.g., Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans)
Control of the Mississippi River (e.g., Vicksburg)
Battle locations influenced by the struggle to capture capital cities (e.g., Richmond; Washington, D.C.)
Control of the high ground (e.g., Gettysburg)

General effects of the war
 Family members were often pitted against one another, as were friends against friends.
As the war went on, Southern troops became increasingly younger and more poorly equipped and clothed.
Much of the South was devastated at the end of the war (e.g., burning of Atlanta and Richmond).
Disease was a major killer. Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse, created the American Red Cross.
Combat was brutal and often man-to-man.
Women were left to run businesses in the North and farms and plantations in the South.
The collapse of the Confederacy made Confederate money worthless.

Effects of the war on African Americans
African Americans fought in the Union army.
Some African Americans accompanied Confederate units in the field.
The Confederacy used enslaved African Americans as ship workers, laborers, cooks, and camp workers.
The Union moved to enlist African American sailors and soldiers during the war.
African American soldiers were paid less than white soldiers.
African American soldiers were discriminated against and served in segregated units under the command of white officers.
Robert Smalls, an African American sailor and later a Union naval captain, was highly honored for his feats of bravery and heroism. He became a Congressman after the war.

Visit Fort Sumter National Monument

Visit Manassass National Battlefield Park

Visit Vicksburg National Military Park

Visit Gettysburg National Military Park

Visit Appomattox Court House National Park

Online Exhibits and Galleries

Remembering Lincoln at Gettysburg --- Google Cultural Institutite

Inspired by the Gettysburg Address -- Google Cultural Instutute

The Conspirators -- Google Cultural Institute

Videos!  You know you love them!

Intro to the Civil War:  Ken Burns' PBS documentary on the Civil War is one of the finest ever.  Unfortunately, it is not available at the Fluvanna County Library, but is on Netflix and at Amazon  Here is a preview:

The Virginia Historical Society has also produced a video on the causes of the Civil War:





























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