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In 1861, a war broke out over what seemed to be whether or not slavery should be legal.

Actually, it wasn’t that simple. The Confederacy started the Civil War because of slavery, but the
fighting wasn’t necessarily about slavery for the Union. A thorough explanation of this
somewhat complicated idea will follow in a few paragraphs.
Pre-existing tensions already existed before the Civil War, such as the ‘The Tariff of
Abominations’. “The tariff sought to protect northern and western agricultural products from
competition with foreign imports; however, the resulting tax on foreign goods would raise the
cost of living in the South…”​1​ Southerners were outraged at this tariff because it heavily raised
taxes and prices. They felt it only benefited the North and they were specifically left out of the
benefits. They also felt that they could do nothing about their political disagreements, which in a
sense could’ve made them feel like they were being taken advantage of. “The Southern states
wanted to assert their authority over the federal government so they could abolish federal laws
they didn’t support, especially laws interfering with the South’s right to keep slaves…”​2
Finally, after some time, they felt that enough is enough. “When Abraham Lincoln won
election [sic] in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out
of [newly acquired] territories, seven slave states… seceded.”​3​ A president who had an
anti-slavery agenda felt like a punch to the South’s guts. While President Lincoln didn’t formally
plan to remove slavery from the slave states, he did want to prevent slavery from spreading to
new land. If he is able to do that, where would he stop? “America’s southern states became the
economic engine of a burgeoning nation. Their fuel of choice? Human slavery.”​4​ If he continued
to eradicate slavery, the Southern economy would collapse, as it is built off of slavery. This
could essentially be seen as an attack on the South. Seven states decided it would be best, for
them, to leave the Union and form the Confederacy.
President Lincoln was not happy that America was divided. “In his inaugural address…
Lincoln proclaimed that it was his duty to maintain the Union. He also declared that he had no
intention of ending slavery where it existed.”​5​ The Confederacy was not formally recognized as a
new country by the Union, this of course led to disputes. “... the seven Southern states that had
already seceded… claimed possession of all U.S. forts and arsenals within their territory. Only
two forts remained under federal jurisdiction: Fort Pickens, Florida, and Fort Sumter…
Confederate authorities demanded Fort Sumter’s immediate evacuation. When this was refused,
the South’s batteries opened fire…”​6​ Fort Sumter was the first battle in the Civil War. The
Confederacy attacked and the Union went in defense. “President Lincoln insisted that the war
was not about slavery or black rights; it was a war to preserve the Union.”​5
As you can see, the Confederates started the war because of a land dispute, which
originated from a separation from the Union, which was done in an effort to preserve slavery in
the South; however, the Union fought back to save the Union. They had no formal intention to
get rid of slavery. It was only later on that they realized this war would determine the legality of
slavery. “... by 1862, Lincoln was considering emancipation as a necessary step to win the war.”​5
“... the purpose of the Civil War had now changed. The North… was [now] fighting to end
slavery.”​5​ Thus, the big factor that the Civil War determined was that slavery was to be
abolished, but the idea behind the beginning of the war was to save slavery in the South.
Americans hated each other enough to fight a Civil War because many Southerners did not
appreciate the steps taken to quarantine slavery by the North.

1​
history.house.gov
2​
pbs.org
3​
battlefields.org
4​
history.com
5​
pbs.org
6​
britannica.com