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What caused the American Civil War?

Union soldiers capture Vicksburg during the Civil WarThe American Civil War was fought between northern and southern states of the United States of America between 1861 and 1865. The main reason for the fighting was slavery. The South was strongly in favour of slavery, but the North wanted to end it. The southern states withdrew from the United States (Union), and formed their own union called the Confederacy. The Confederate army fought the Civil War to win its independence. But the Union army defeated them.



Abraham Lincoln, US president 1861–65

Union v. Confederacy

In November 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He was known for his opposition to slavery. Almost immediately, seven southern states whose economies depended on slavery (African American slaves worked on the cotton plantations) declared their secession (withdrawal) from the United States. They were followed shortly by four more. These 11 states formed the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. The other 24 states, known as the Union, supported the US government. 

The Civil War resulted in the deaths of at least 365,000 soldiers on the Union side and 260,000 soldiers on the Confederate side. Around 50,000 civilians also perished. This was a higher number of American deaths than in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War combined.

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