North vs. South
The American Civil War was a military conflict between the Northern States of the United States of America (the Union) and the Southern States of the United States of America (the Confederacy). The main cause of the war was slavery and states rights. It began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and lasted until May 26, 1865, when the last Confederate army surrendered. The war took more than 600,000 lives, destroyed property valued at $5 billion, brought freedom to 4 million black slaves, and opened wounds that have not yet completely healed more than 125 years later.
Economy in the South was heavily based on agriculture and growing cotton. Growing and harvesting cotton required large numbers of workers. This work force was made up of about 4 million slaves. By the 1800's, the African slave trade had become illegal. But existing slaves were not freed. Men and women of the North pushed to completely abolish slavery. The South feared that losing the slaves would have a severe economic impact on cotton plantations. The North was heavily industrialized with factories and manufacturing being central to the economy. The main debate between the North and the South on the eve of the war was whether slavery should be permitted in the Western territories recently acquired during the Mexican War (1846-1848). Opponents of slavery were concerned about its expansion, in part because they did not want to compete against slave labor.