Q:

What started the Civil War?

A:

Quick Answer

The American Civil War was primarily fought over differences of opinion about the right of the federal government to determine whether slavery was legal in individual states; the hostile action that started the actual war was the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, which occurred on April 12, 1861. The secession of seven Southern states after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president triggered the war.

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Full Answer

Lincoln had pledged to limit the legal institution of slavery to the existing states that allowed it. By the time of the Civil War, most of the Northern states had already outlawed slavery while most of the Southern states protected it. The major debate was whether the practice would be allowed to expand into the new western territories, which were beginning to become states. Lincoln planned to forbid that, but the Southern states that would become the Confederacy thought it should be up to each individual territory. Many Northerners also supported complete abolition, believing that the federal government should outlaw slavery in all the country's states and territories.

While slavery was the major contentious issue, there were also more complex issues at play. The two regions were at odds economically. The Northern region was primarily industrial while the South was mostly agricultural. There were disagreements about trade agreements, tariffs and other economic issues.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When did the Civil War begin and end?

    A:

    The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked the Union-controlled Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, S.C. The war officially ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Va.

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  • Q:

    Who started the Civil War?

    A:

    The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries shelled Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The Confederate commander at the scene was Pierre Gustave T. Beauregard, though his authority to fire on the fort had been granted by Jefferson Davis.

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  • Q:

    What year did the Civil War start?

    A:

    The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when the first shot was fired upon Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, S.C. The state was the first to secede from the United States just a few months prior.

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  • Q:

    How did the American Civil War end?

    A:

    The American Civil War essentially ended in the spring of 1865, with the surrender of Robert E. Lee and his troops, the last major Confederate army, to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va., on April 9, 1865. However, the last battle was fought at Palmito Ranch, Texas, on May 13, and the last confederate army ceased to exist when General Kirby Smith surrendered and signed the treaty on June 2.

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