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Civil War: A Defining Moment in U.S. History TOP: "The Battle of Antietam," by Kurz & Allison (1878), depicts the ghting at Burnside's Bridge. Courtesy of Wikipedia. BOTTOM: Scott's great snake. Cartoon map illustrating General Wineld Scott's plan to crush the Confederacy, economically. It is sometimes called the "Anaconda plan." J.B. Ellott, Courtesy of Wikipedia. The Civil War was fought between the Northern and Southern states over slavery. The war started in April 1861. The Southern states decided to leave the United States and form their own country. Four years of ghting followed, and over 620,000 people died. The war affected almost everyone in the United States. It also freed four million African-Americans who were living in slavery. The founding fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787. At the time, many African-Americans were owned as slaves. They were treated like animals and forced to work for no pay. The Constitution gave Americans many freedoms, but it also protected slavery. Northern and Southern states disagreed In the years that followed, there were many ghts over slavery. The Northern and Southern states did not agree about whether new states should allow it. Many Northerners thought slavery was wrong. By Gary W. Gallagher, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, adapted by Newsela staff on 12.01.16 Word Count 557

Civil War: A Defining Moment in U.S. History · The Civil War began in April 1861 when Confederates attacked U.S. soldiers at a fort in South Carolina. After this attack, more Southern

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  • Civil War: A Defining Moment in U.S.History

    TOP: "The Battle of Antietam," by Kurz & Allison (1878), depicts the fighting at Burnside's Bridge. Courtesy of Wikipedia.BOTTOM: Scott's great snake. Cartoon map illustrating General Winfield Scott's plan to crush the Confederacy,economically. It is sometimes called the "Anaconda plan." J.B. Ellott, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

    The Civil War was fought between the Northern and Southern states over slavery. The warstarted in April 1861. The Southern states decided to leave the United States and formtheir own country. Four years of fighting followed, and over 620,000 people died. The waraffected almost everyone in the United States. It also freed four million African-Americanswho were living in slavery.

    The founding fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787. At the time, many African-Americanswere owned as slaves. They were treated like animals and forced to work for no pay. TheConstitution gave Americans many freedoms, but it also protected slavery.

    Northern and Southern states disagreed

    In the years that followed, there were many fights over slavery. The Northern and Southernstates did not agree about whether new states should allow it. Many Northerners thoughtslavery was wrong.

    By Gary W. Gallagher, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, adapted byNewsela staff on 12.01.16 Word Count 557

    This article is available at 5 reading levels at https://newsela.com. 1

  • The road to war began with the election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln became president. Hepromised to leave slavery alone in states where it already existed. But he did not want tohave slavery in new states. Between December 1860 and February 1861, seven Southernstates left the United States. They made their own country called the Confederacy and setup their own government. The Civil War began in April 1861 when Confederates attackedU.S. soldiers at a fort in South Carolina. After this attack, more Southern states left theUnited States.

    More soldiers fought in the Civil War than ever before in American history. The South hadmore than 800,000 soldiers, while the North had over 2 million.

    The North attacked the Confederate states

    Beginning in 1861, the North blocked ships from delivering goods to the Confederacy.Northern soldiers took control of the Mississippi River and attacked the Confederatestates. The Confederate army tried to defend its territory. Occasionally, it attacked theNorth back. The most important attacks were at the Battle of Antietam and the Battle ofGettysburg.

    The Confederacy finally surrendered in the spring of 1865.

    The war touched the lives of almost every American. Before the war, most women stayedat home taking care of their families. But during the war, many of them became nurses,which used to be a job for men. Other women worked in the government and in factories.Thousands of women ran farms.

    Both sides used the latest technology. Railroads moved thousands of soldiers andsupplies. Both sides used new weapons like rifle guns and warships covered in iron.

    Slaves were the most affected

    The four million slaves were the most directly affected by the war. They officially won theirfreedom in 1865. That year the U.S. government passed the 13th Amendment to theConstitution. It made it against the law to own slaves.

    The cost of the war was huge. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed. The wardestroyed the Confederate states' businesses, which needed slave labor to grow crops.On the other hand, the North became more rich.

    Americans remembered the war in different ways. Most white Northerners saw it as a fightto hold the country together. For black Americans, the war was a fight for freedom. ManySoutherners celebrated the Confederacy and claimed that slavery was not the real causeof the war.

    Gary W. Gallagher teaches history at the University of Virginia. He has written severalbooks about the Civil War.

    This article is available at 5 reading levels at https://newsela.com. 2

  • Quiz

    1 Which sentence from the article is MOST important to include in the summary?

    (A) The Civil War was fought between the Northern and Southern states overslavery.

    (B) Between December 1860 and February 1861, seven Southern states left theUnited States.

    (C) Beginning in 1861, the North blocked ships from delivering goods to theConfederacy.

    (D) But during the war, many of them became nurses, which used to be a job formen.

    2 What is the main idea of the section “Northern and Southern states disagreed”?

    (A) The Civil War began because Southern states did not like the new president,Abraham Lincoln.

    (B) The Civil War began because Southern states wanted to keep slavery andLincoln was elected as president.

    (C) The Civil War began because the Northern states attacked the Southernstates in South Carolina.

    (D) The Civil War began because the Northern states didn’t want the Southernstates to be in the United States.

    3 Which section of the article explains how the Civil War ended?

    (A) Introduction [paragraphs 1-2]

    (B) “Northern and Southern states disagreed”

    (C) “The North attacked the Confederate states”

    (D) “Slaves were the most affected”

    4 Based on the section “The North attacked the Confederate states,” which of the following isTRUE?

    (A) Many women worked much harder than men during the Civil War.

    (B) The Northern soldiers were more powerful than the Confederate army.

    (C) Soldiers and supplies were moved on ships down the Mississippi River.

    (D) The Confederate army used newer technology in the war than the North.

    This article is available at 5 reading levels at https://newsela.com. 3