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Sectional Controversy, Civil War and Reconstruction

The period before, during, and after the Civil War was a time of great upheaval in the course of the fledgling country.

Leading up to the Civil War, starting with the drafting of the Constitution, the question of slavery had to be continually negotiated in government, especially with the addition of new states to the union. The election of Abraham Lincoln, who was perceived by southern states as hostile to the institution of slavery, was the tipping point for the U.S. entering into Civil War.

The South wanted independence in order to maintain slavery, while the North fought to keep the union together and eventually, emancipate slaves. The North finally emerged victorious after four years of bloody and deadly battles, but shortly after the Confederate South surrendered, Lincoln was assassinated and the country struggled to “reconstruct” the South.


  • History of the American Civil War - The American Civil War, also known as the War between the States and the War of the Rebellion, was fought primarily over the issue of slavery.... Continue Reading
  • Lincoln - Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in rural Hardin (now Larue) County, Kentucky, the son of an illiterate carpenter and farmer.... Continue Reading

  • Slavery in America - Negro slavery in America was introduced in the 17th century. The number of black slaves in America did not immediately expand after the Dutch Mann o Warre brought the first boatload to Jamestown in 16... Continue Reading
  • Underground Railroad - In 1834, the National Antislavery Society organized the Underground Railroad, which comprised the combined efforts of both white and black abolitionists to aid some 100,000 enslaved persons to find th... Continue Reading

  • Abolitionism - The abolitionist movement called for the end of the institution of slavery and had existed in one form or another since colonial times; the early case had been stated most consistently by the Quakers.... Continue Reading
  • Sectional Controversy - For a few years following the Compromise of 1850 it appeared that the issue of the expansion of slavery had been effectively addressed.... Continue Reading
  • Fugitive Slave Act - In recognition of Southern support for California's admission to the Union as a free state and ending the slave trade in the District of Columbia, as part of the Compromise of 1850, Congress enacted t... Continue Reading
  • Bleeding Kansas - “Bleeding Kansas” was a term used by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune to describe the violent hostilities between pro and antislavery forces in the Kansas territory during the mid and late 1850s... Continue Reading
  • Tariff of 1857 - The Panic of 1857 yielded a major depression in the United States and later in many other parts of the globe.... Continue Reading
  • Slavery - The causes of the American Civil War are found in a complex blend of political, economic, social and psychological factors — all overshadowed by the massive specter of slavery.... Continue Reading
  • Election of 1860 - The Democratic Party was in disarray in 1860 when they convened in Charleston, South Carolina to choose their presidential candidate.... Continue Reading
  • Secession Crisis - Following the election of 1860, some prominent Southern leaders, Jefferson Davis among them, wanted to give the Lincoln administration a chance to sooth the sectional strife.... Continue Reading

  • Radical Republicans - The Radicals, a faction of the regular Republican Party, came into prominence on the national level after 1860.... Continue Reading
  • Civil War Strategy - Stated in simple terms, the aim of the Confederacy was to sustain its independence while the Union was intent upon restoring the Union.... Continue Reading
  • Civil War Time Table - ... Continue Reading
  • Antietam - Following the Confederate victory at Second Bull Run in late August, 1862, Lee moved his forces across the Potomac into Maryland.... Continue Reading
  • Gettysburg - Following the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, Lee decided to invade the North.... Continue Reading
  • Emancipation Proclamation - Early in the war President Lincoln was careful to stress he was fighting to preserve the Union, not for the abolition of slavery.... Continue Reading
  • 13th Amendment - Section 1.... Continue Reading
  • End of the Civil War - The numerical superiority of the North was prominent during the Wilderness Campaign in the spring of 1864.... Continue Reading

  • Reconstruction Acts - Nearly two years following the end of the Civil War, Congress finally forged a complete plan for reconstruction.... Continue Reading
  • Reconstruction - Reconstruction was the period in American history immediately following the Civil War during which the South was, at least in theory, put back together.... Continue Reading
  • Disputed Election of 1876 - Both major political parties were influenced by the Grant-era corruption and sought to nominate candidates who could win the public trust.... Continue Reading
  • End of Reconstruction - In 1874, the Democratic Party returned to power in the House of Representatives, providing an indication of public discontent with the Grant Scandals and the seemingly endless Reconstruction process. ... Continue Reading