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Civil War


Events leading to Civil War


  • Lincoln is elected (Nov. 6)

  • South Carolina secedes (Dec. 17)


  • Six other states secede (Jan)

  • Confederate States of America formed at Montgomery, AL (Feb. 8-9)

  • Jefferson Davis is appointed first president of Confederate States (Feb. 18)

  • Lincoln inaugurated as 16th president (Mar. 4)

  • Ft. Sumter, S.C., Union loses, Civil War begins (Apr. 12)

  • Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas), Union loses (July 21)


  • Battle of Shiloh, Union wins (Apr. 6-7)

  • Second Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas), Union loses (Aug. 30-31)

  • Battle of Antietam, Union victory (Sept. 17)


  • Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect (Jan. 1)

  • Battle of Vicksburg begins (May 18)

  • Battle of Gettysburg, PA, Union wins (July 1-3)

  • Vicksburg, Mississippi surrenders to Union (July 4)


  • Sherman's March to the Sea (Nov. 15 to Dec. 21)


  • Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee surrenders to Grant (Apr. 9)

  • Lincoln is assassinated at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth (Apr. 14)

  • Jefferson Davis is captured (May 10)

  • Civil War officially ends (May 26)

  • 13th Amendment adopted (Dec.)




  • Gag rule (1836-1840, repealed in 1844)

  • ​Prevented congress member from discussing slavery

  • Disagreements over expansion of slavery to Mexican Cession (see Wilmot Proviso)

  • Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854, "Bleeding Kansas," John Brown, Dred Scott Decision, Raid on Harper's Ferry

  • Although only 25% of Southerners owned slaves, most small farmers aspired to become large slave owners.

  • Southern arguments in favor of slavery:

  • Biblical reasons (slavery was accepted in the Old Testament of the Bible)

  • The idea that all white men were equally superior to black men,

  • The belief that slaves were biologically suited for a life of slavery and couldn't function without the paternalistic protection of slave owners

  • The South's economy depended on slavery to survive'

  • Cultural tradition of slavery.

  • Lincoln-Douglas Debate 1858

  • ​House Divided v. Freeport Doctrine

States Right v. Federal Rights

  • Southern states claimed to be exercising their right to secede from the Union

  • But didn't believe Northern states had the right to outlaw slavery or resist returning fugitive slaves to their owners in the South.

  • Other state's rights issues in American history

  • Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (after Alien and Sedition Act)

  • Nullification Crisis (after Tariff of Abominations)

  • Hartford Convention (Federalists, War of 1812)

  • McCulloch v. Maryland (regarding 2nd Bank of US)

Economic Sectionalism

  • Economic specialization

  • Northeast = industry

  • West = wheat, cattle

  • South = cash crops, especially cotton

  • North

  • ​Industry in North attracted immigrants (Irish, German etc.)

  • More cities

  • Laws (like protective tariffs) protected industry but hurt states that bought industril goods.

  • More railroads connecting customers and sellers of farmed goods and manufactured goods

  • South

  • 2/3 of world's cotton grown in South

  • Cotton plantations required a lot of labor (slaves)

  • Cotton was sold to England and to northern textile companies

  • When land was exhausted, planters had to move (some to the West)

Election of 1860

  • ​Election of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican (see below)




  • Lincoln (“Honest Abe”) ran for president on Republican ticket (see below)

  • Lincoln and slavery

  • Lincoln did not believe in racial equality

  • He opposed

  • Allowing blacks to vote

  • Sit on juries

  • Marry white people

  • Or be citizens

  • He didn’t even want to abolish slavery in the southern states where it already exists

  • He believed that the institution would eventually fade on its own.


  • Republican Party

  • Founded in 1854 by anti-slavery Whigs

  • Whigs had been formed to oppose "tyranny" of Andrew Jackson

  • But split and disintegrated after the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854

  • Their first candidate, John C. Fremont, won 114 electoral votes but lost the 1856 election to President Buchanan (a Democrat) who won 174.

  • A number of Southern states threatened to secede (break away) from the United States if a Republican won the election in 1860. (Lincoln, a Republican, won)

  • Republicans' goals:

  • Higher protective tariffs

  • Homestead law (free land for settlers)

  • More internal improvements (RR to Pacific)

  • To maintain Union at all costs

  • And supported 1846 Wilmot Proviso

  • Prohibiting expansion of slavery into any regions acquired from Mexico




  • The Northern and Western States had a majority of the electoral votes

  • And could therefore outvote the South in any election


  • Lincoln (Republican)

  • Stephen Douglas (Northern Democrat)

  • Pro-Union, pro-Freeport Doctrine, for popular sovereignty

  • John c. Breckinridge (Southern Democrat)

  • Strong supporter of slavery

  • Pro Dred Scott decision

  • John Bell (Constitutional Union)

  • Constitutional Union party

  • Breakaway group formed from American Party and Southern Whig

  • Pro-Union (didn't want to secede from the U.S)

  • But didn't take a stand on slavery (either for or against)

  • John Crittenden (see below) was a leading member

  • Appealed mostly to border states (Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee)


  • None of the slave states put Lincoln’s name on the ballot

  • So two sectional elections

  • Lincoln v. Douglas in the North

  • Breckinridge v. Bell in the South

  • Lincoln won the presidency

  • With only 39% of the popular vote

  • And all 18 free states

  • Clear majority (180 votes) in the Electoral College



  • Immediately after election of Lincoln, S.C. legislature convened special convention

  • Voted unanimously to secede from the Union

  • S.C. issued “A Declaration of the Causes of Secession”

  • Asserting that a sectional party (only in the northern "section" of the U.S.) had elected a president hostile to slavery

  • Believed secession would “liberate” south

  • And save them from any federal attempts to emancipate slaves

  • Ultimately a states rights move

  • Other historical threats to secede

  • New England Federalists during War of 1812 (Hartford Convention)

  • In 1832 South Carolina threatened to secede over the 1828 Tariff of Abominations

  • Created "Nullification crisis"



  • Hoping to prevent war Senator John Crittenden (Kentucky) proposed a compromise

  • ​Adding an amendment to the Constitution

  1. Popular sovereignty

  • Would determine whether new territories would enter Union as free or slave states

  1. All territories north of 36' 30" would remain free, south of 36' 30" would remain slave.

  2. Promise that no future amendment would tamper with institution of slavery in slave states.

  • Many southerners contemplated the compromise

  • But Lincoln rejected it

  • Belief that the people had elected him to prevent westward expansion of slavery

  • Said “I am inflexible


SECESSION (Feb. 1861)

  • Feb. 1861 – 6 other slave states followed South Carolina

  • Mississippi

  • Florida

  • Alabama

  • Georgia

  • Louisiana

  • Texas

  • Black Belt, Cotton Belt, Bible Belt

  • Delegates met in Montgomery, Alabama

  • Where they formed the Confederate States of America (Confederacy or CSA)

  • Drew up a constitution

  • Similar to U.S. Constitution except it "protected and recognized" slavery in new territories.

  • Jefferson Davis was chosen as provisional president




  • 22 million free citizens

  • 5.5 million could fight

  • 90% of factories in North

  • Railroad network twice as large as South

  • Shipping, mining in north

  • More arms

  • 80% of banking


  • 10 million people (7 ½ free, rest slaves)

  • South had very few factories (had to import arms/munitions)

  • South focused only growing cotton and tobacco

  • Fewer railroads

  • Advantages:

  • Didn’t have to conquer, subdue and pacify enemy’s territory.

  • Was defensive war

  • Southern generals familiar with ground (maps were useless for North)

  • Southern generals and soldiers superior

  • South had accorded higher status to military education

  • All but 1 had gone to military college in south

  • But disadvantages outweighed advantages

  • South needed to find an ally

  • French and British both looked favorably on the Confederacy




  • Ambivalence toward Civil War

  • In favor of South

  • South was chief source of fiber for Br. textile industry

  • English lords looked on southern planters as kinsmen because they imitated English manners.

  • Believed war was the last opportunity to arrest growing economic power of US

  • Against South

  • British had outlawed slavery in 1833 and didn't like the institution in the South

  • Lord Palmerston (Britain's PM) was unwilling to risk the wrath of antislavery voters unless Confederacy showed chance of winning.

  • South blunders, bad luck and Union victories showed losses in South

  • Diminishing the chance of British help

  • Before war, Great Britain had accumulated a huge inventory of cotton

  • ​At the time of the war, Britain was more interested in Northern wheat and corn than cotton.

  • Jefferson Davis

  • Believing Britain was completely dependent on Southern cotton

  • Tried to blackmail Britain

  • By withholding cotton if British didn't support South

  • Tactic failed

  • English mill owners had seen war coming and stockpiled reserves.

  • Farmers in Egypt, Middle East and India devoted more land to cotton.

  • Union captured enough cotton in Tennessee to keep mills of New England humming and even sell to Britain

  • Br. Discovered Union wheat more valuable than "King Cotton."



  • If the North had such an advantage - why did war take four years?

  • North

  • Considered south as part of themselves

  • “House Divided” should be reunited as soon as possible

  • Lincoln didn’t want to destroy South

  • South

  • Fought with passion

  • Believed livelihood at stake



  • North ("United States")

  • Names: Unionists

  • “Yankees” to the Southerners

  • Capital: Washington, DC

  • Generals: Ulysses S. Grant, George McClellan

  • President: Abraham Lincoln

  • South (Confederate States of America, CSA)

  • ​Names: Confederates

  • "Secessionists," "Rebels" to Northerners

  • Capital: Richmond, Virginia

  • Generals: Joseph Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

  • President: Jefferson Davis

Political groups

  • Republicans: Lincoln's Party (see above)

  • Radical Republicans: Believed Lincoln was too slow freeing slaves

  • Union Party: Name of Republican Party in Election of 1864 (see below)

  • War Democrats: Supporters of Lincoln in North, wanted aggressive policy toward South

  • Copperheads: Democrats in North who opposed Civil War and wanted immediate peace



  • Only 10 of 14 slave states followed South Carolina and seceded

  • Other four slave states:

  • Maryland

  • Delaware

  • Kentucky

  • Missouri

  • Remained loyal to North

  • West Virginia

  • Seceded from VA in 1863

  • And joined the Union as a free state

  • Border states were crucial to the north:

  • Discredited Confederacy’s claim

  • That the Union would emancipate all slaves

  • Deprived South of potential fighters and factories

  • Maryland and Delaware had many factories which could have doubled the South's industrial capabilities

  • Maryland’s secession would have isolated DC from the rest of the North

  • Border states provided access to Rivers: Missouri, Mississippi River



FORT SUMTER (First Battle, Apr. 1861, Union loses)

  • Ten days after Lincoln was sworn in as America’s 16th president

  • S. Carolina demanded that US troops withdraw from Ft. Sumter

  • A small island in Charleston Harbor

  • When Lincoln didn’t comply

  • S.C. militiamen shelled the fort

  • Until the garrison’s commander surrendered

  • Significance:

  • The easy defeat of the Fort

  • Led may Southerners to conclude that Northerners lacked the will to fight

  • Also convinced Arkansas, N.C., Tennessee and Virginia to secede

  • The Civil War had begun.


  • 1st significant battle at Manassas Junction (30 mi. southwest of DC)

  • Union soldiers fled

  • Left several 1000 dead and wounded

  • Southern General: Thomas J. Jackson, earned name "Stonewall" Jackson

  • Because he stood firm like a "stone wall."

  • Significance:

  • Revealed weakness of North (none of the officers had experience)

  • Gave South a false sense of invincibility

  • North buckled down for long, bitter war



  • After defeat at Bull Run, the North developed a battle strategy

  • Defend Washington DC, the North's capital

  • By Army of Potomac (fortified and surrounded by full platoon)

  • Take rivers and tributaries

  • If North won complete control of Mississippi they would cut Confederacy in two

  • Isolating Texas, Ark, and LA from heart of Confederacy east

  • Leaving them at mercy of small Union armies

  • (Accomplished July 1863 at Battle of Vicksburg)

  • Naval blockade (Anaconda Plan)

  • Stop Confederate from selling cotton abroad or buying manufactures (munitions)

  • Anaconda Plan

  • Called for a blockade of southern ports

  • Like a constricting snake

  • To strangle Confederacy

  • Not successful

  • Union Navy had too few ships to patrol 3,550 coastline

  • Never completely stopped commerce

  • In part because Northern manufacturers needed southern markets.

  • And products could be shipped up/down Mississippi R.

  • Northerners feared if Britain couldn’t get Southern cotton, they would invade U.S. to open ports

  • South produced ¾ of world’s cotton



FORT HENRY AND DONELSON (Feb. 1862, Union Victory)

  • Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured Fort Henry and Donelson in Tennesee

  • First significant Union victory

BATTLE OF SHILOH (April 6-7, 1862, narrow Union victory)

  • Union General U.S. Grant

  • Engaged Confederate forces at Shiloh, Tenn.

  • Battle killed 25,000 men

  • Narrow Union Victory

  • Significance:

  • Shattered Southerner’s hope for a quick and easy victory

  • Showed Lincoln’s resolve to save Union

BATTLE OF ANTIETAM (Sept. 1862, Union victory)

  • Strategy:

  • Confederate general Robert E. Lee trying to move war to North

  • If successful

  • Confederacy could capture Washington DC

  • And/or British and French intervention on the side of the Confederacy

  • Either of which would mean Confederate victory and independence

  • Battle:

  • Lee crossed Potomac with 40,000 men

  • George McClellan (Union general) moved troops to meet Lee in western Maryland

  • McClellan notoriously slow, overestimated size of enemy forces and repeatedly called for reinforcement

  • He also ignored Lincoln’s direction to advance because he had no intention of disrupting slavery

  • Lincoln needed military victories to end war quickly

  • He knew American people wouldn't support a long, drawn out war

  • McClellan found Lee’s battle plan before the battle (on papers wrapped around cigars)

  • But moved slowly.

  • And didn't pursue Lee's forces as they retreated across Potomac to VA

  • Lincoln fired McClellan and hired Ulysses S. Grant.

  • 10s of 1000s of soldiers died = . more Americans died on Sept. 17, 1862 than any other day in American history.

  • Significance:

  • One of turning points in the war

  • Although no significant victory, Lee’s withdrawal was enough of a defeat

  • To allow Lincoln to portray it as Union victory (Despite McClellan's failures)

  • And convince Europeans not to get involved.

  • Lincoln used this “victory” to issue Emancipation Proclamation

  • Which completely altered the aim of the war

  • From preserving the Union

  • To ending slavery



(proclaimed Sept. 22, 1862, went into effect Jan. 1, 1863)

  • Lincoln waiting for a Union victory before announcing Emancipation Proclamation.

  • Antietam provided opportunity

  • Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (Sept. 22, 1862)

  • ​Warned that unless South laid down arms by end of 1862, Lincoln would decree abolition of slavery.

  • Democrats objected.

  • Purpose of Proclamation:

  • Hurt South economically

  • Confederacy depended on slave labor

  • Turn war into moral cause

  • Boosting support for the war in the North

  • Convince Britain (which outlawed slavery in 1833) not to support South

  • Get more soldiers for Union army

  • Proclaimed Sept 2, 1862

  • To take effect Jan. 1, 1863

  • Border state slaves not free

  • ​Lincoln didn’t want border states to secede in anger

  • Also allowed free blacks to join U.S. Army and Navy.

  • See transcript here.

  • On Jan. 1, 1863 "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States...will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons..."

  • Truth – not a single slave left the plantation that day

  • Because Lincoln had no control in the South



BATTLE OF VICKSBURG (May-Jun. 1863, Union victory)

  • Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863

  • Significance:

  • Strategically the most significant battle for the North

  • Gave Union forces control of the entire Mississippi River.

  • Effectively cutting the Confederacy in half

  • While Vicksburg taking place, Union forces were repelling Robert E. Lee's invasion in PA at Battle of Gettysburg

BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (July 1-3, 1863, Union victory)

  • Civil War at a stalemate

  • Most battles took place in South

  • Fredericksburg, VA in Dec. 1862 (Confederate win)

  • Chancellorsville, VA in May 1863 (Confederate win)

  • End of June 1863 Robert E. Lee decided to move northward to Penn. (Union soil)

  • Plan:

  • To destroy as many military posts as possible in PA and MD while Union defended D

  • Hoped North would lose faith in the war

  • Lee sent all troops to Gettysburg and battled Union

  • After three days of fighting (deaths: 23,000 Union, 28,000 Confederate)

  • Lee retreated back to Confederate territory

  • Significance:

  • This was the most decisive battle

  • It broke the "charm of Lee's invincibility"

  • Southerners became more critical of their government

  • Lincoln gave "Gettysburg Address" at funeral dedicated to soldiers who died at Gettysburg



  • Lincoln gave the speech at the funeral dedicated to those who died at Gettysburg

  • After a 2 hour speech by Edward Everett

  • Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes (272 words)

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal"

...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

  • One of Lincoln's best speeches

  • Honored those who gave lives

  • ​But was more about preserving self-government and healing the country

  • "four score and seven years ago" (87 years ago, that is, 1776)

  • A reference to the Biblical passage Psalms 90:10 which says "The days of our years are threescore years and ten..." that is, 70 years, the average length a human life. Implied that the Union had lasted longer than a typical lifespan.

  • Emphasized the unity of the country by referring to the Declaration of Independence.

  • Turned Civil War into a moral war to protect fundamental American principle (all men equal, government by the people")

See transcript here.




  • Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg and the loss of the Mississippi River

  • Crushed the South

  • Meanwhile

  • Union victories

  • Boosted morale and support for the war in the North

  • And increased Lincoln’s popularity

  • Blockade (Anaconda) starting to kick in

  • Preventing the South from trading cotton for war supplies or food

  • Jefferson Davis continued to wage war for 2 more years

  • Still hoping that GB would help him


  • Led by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

  • Marched through Georgia and South Carolina

  • Destroyed transportation, stole food, burned houses.

  • Purpose

  • To break morale

  • And deprive South of resources

  • Sherman's Special Field Orders

  • No. 120 (Nov. 9, 1864)

  • Army will forage liberally (stealing turnips, apples, vegetables etc.) but not hurt the people

  • No. 15 ("40 acres and a mule" promise) (Jan. 16, 1865)

  • Confiscated 400,000 acres of land along Atlantic coast (S.C., GA, FL)

  • Land to be divided into parcels of 40 acres

  • 18,000 freed slave families settled there

  • Purpose: To deal with 10s of 1000s of balck refugee who had joined Sherman's march in search of protection and food

  • Supposed to be temporary (not permanent ownership)

  • Later revoked by Andrew Jonson

  • Significance

  • ​Sherman victories convinced voters to reelect Lincoln



  • Lincoln didn't want to postpone elections (see quote)

  • Republicans ran as Union Party.

  • Candidates

  • Union Party (Republicans) - Abraham Lincoln

  • VP Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from Tennessee

  • Voters encouraged by Sherman victories

  • 80% of soldiers voted for Lincoln (wanted "peace with honor")

  • Democrats - George McClellan

  • McClellan was the former Union general (fired by Lincoln)

  • Had support from those who were tired of war and casualties.

  • Said only asking for Union to be restored

  • Planned to restore slavery

  • Outcome

  • Lincoln won 55% popular votes and 212 electoral votes (McClellan won 21)



  • In order to ensure that future presidents would not bring back slavery.

  • Lincoln put all his effort into creating an Amendment that would permanently end slavery.

  • 13th Amendment

  • Passed in Senate April 8, 1864

  • Passed House on Jan. 31, 1865

  • Ratified by states Dec. 6, 1865

  • 4 million people freed (3.5 million in CSA, 500,000 in border states)

Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United states, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.




  • Union troops had conquered Richmond, VA (Confederate capital)

  • Southerners had abandoned the city on April 2.

  • Lee is cut off from supplies

  • In town called Appomattox Court House, Virginia

  • Southern General Robert E. Lee Northern General U.S. Grant met

  • Lee was offered generous terms by Lincoln

  • Lee's soldiers were sent home with three days rations

  • Officers were allowed to keep their arms.

  • The war was over.



Draft Riots in NYC (July 1863)

  • Union's Conscription Act (Marc. 1863)

  • All men 20-45 could be drafted to serve in the military

  • Draftee could avoid service if they found substitute or paid $300

  • Provoked four days of rioting in New York City.

  • The rioters: mostly Democrats, Irish immigrants

  • Resented the fact that wealthy individuals could pay substitutes to fight for them

  • And feared that freed slaves would flood to the north and compete for jobs.

  • Attacked blacks and wealthy whites

  • More than 100 died in the riots

  • Portrayed in the 2002 film "Gangs of New York"


  • Democrats in the north who opposed the Civil War

Financing the War

  • Innovations by Secretry of the Tresury, Salmon P Chase

  • Union borrowed $2.6 billion through sale of government bonds.

  • Morrill Tariff of 1861 -- to raise revenue and protect U.S. manufacturers

  • First income tax (Aug. 5, 1861)

  • Temporary flat tax : 3% for income above $800

  • Revenue Act of 1862 replaced flat rate with progressive tax: 3% on $600+, 5% above $10,000, and created IRS

  • Temporary - to 1866

  • Steep excise tax (including on whiskey)

  • Legal Tender Act, 1862 -

  • Authorized the use of paper notes (rather than gold or silver/specie which were in short supply) to pay the government's bills.

  • Allowed government to print $150 million in paper money (greenbacks) not backed by specie - caused inflation prices up 80%

  • By end of war, 1/2 billion dollars in greenbacks issued - became a permanent currency

Morrill Land Grant College Act (July 2, 1862)

  • To spur agricultural development

  • The government provided grants of land to states to establish colleges specializing in agriculture.

Transcontinental Railroad (1862)

  • Pacific Railway Act (Jul. 1, 1862)

  • Congress granted 100 million acres of land Union Pacific and Central Pacific companies

  • The companies had received charters to build a railroad from the Missouri River to the Pacific coast.

  • The resulting transcontinental railroad (largely built with Chinese immigrant labor) was completed in 1869.

  • It ran from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco

  • At the expense of the Plains Indians, since bison were killed almost to extinction to make way for the railroad tracks and destroy the Native Americans' livelihood

Homestead Act (Passed May 20, 1862)

  • To encourage settlement in the west

  • The government offered 160 acres of land to settlers willing to cultivate the land and live in the homesteads for five years.

Suspension of Habeas Corpus (Passed Mar. 3, 1863)

  • In order to silence critics of the war, a number of newspaper editors, Democratic politicians and people who tried to discourage enlistment were imprisoned.

  • Twice Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus (the law that prevents illegal detention of accused people)

  • Lincoln argued in a letter to a Democrat Congressman, Erastus Corning, that he was not in violation of the Constitution

  • Article One, Section 9, clause 2: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

West Virginia

  • After Wheeling Conventions of 1861

  • Admitted as a state Dec. 31, 1862

  • Became key border state

Ex parte Milligan (1866)

  • After the Civil War had ended the Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional to try people in military tribunals when civil courts are still operating.

Battle of Sand Creek (See Native American Wars)


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