the Westward Expansion
Between 1861 and 1865, a brutal conflict unfolded on American soil, pitting the Northern States, known as the Union, against the Southern States, known as the Confederacy.
This devastating war stemmed primarily from profound differences in economic and societal structures. The North boasted a burgeoning industrial society, while the South's economy relied heavily on agriculture, centered around vast cotton plantations worked by enslaved labor.
The South not only sought to protect the institution of slavery in their region, which had been established post the American Revolutionary War but also advocated for its expansion into new territories within the United States.
The Northern states vehemently opposed this idea, advocating for these new areas to remain free of slavery. This profound disagreement culminated in the secession of several Southern states from the Union in 1860.
Simultaneously, Abraham Lincoln was elected President that same year, with his stance firmly against the extension of slavery into new states.
Consequently, in 1860-1861, the Confederacy withdrew from the Union in protest. The Northern states viewed this act as a rebellion against the entire United States.
The ensuing conflict would become the bloodiest in U.S. history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an uncounted number of civilians.
The Confederacy, initially enjoying some success under General Lee, saw a turning point in the war with their defeat at Gettysburg in 1863, at the hands of the Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant.
Subsequently, the Union gained dominance in the conflict, and by April 1865, the Confederacy had surrendered. With the South once again part of the Union, slavery was finally abolished.
Initially, the Union's goal had been to prevent the spread of slavery to new territories, but Abraham Lincoln altered the course of the war with his Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which abolished slavery nationwide.