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The American Civil War for Kids

Overview Major Events Civil War Life People Battles

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The American Civil War was fought between southern and northern states of the United States. The southern states didn't want to be part of the United States any more and decided to make their own country. However, the northern states wanted to stay one country.

American Civil War soldiers

The South (Confederacy)

When the southern states decided to break away, or secede, they made their own country called the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. They wrote their own Constitution and even had their own president, Jefferson Davis. The Confederacy was made up of 11 southern states including South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

The North (Union)

The North consisted of the remaining 25 states which were located in the north. The North was also called the Union to symbolize that they wanted the United States to remain a single country and union. The North was bigger and had more industry than the South. They had a lot more people, resources, and wealth giving them an advantage in the civil war.

Why did the Southern states want to leave?

The Southern states were worried that as the United States expanded, they would gain less power. They wanted the states to have more power and be able to make their own laws. One of the laws they were worried about losing was the right to enslave people. Many northern states had outlawed slavery and they were worried that the United States would outlaw slavery in all the states.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States during the Civil War. He wanted a stronger federal government and was against slavery. It was his election that triggered the southern states leaving and the Civil War. He was determined that the country remain united.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

The Fighting

The Civil War was the deadliest war in American history. Over 600,000 soldiers died in the war. The fighting started at Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Recommended books and references:

  • The American Civil War : An Overview by Carin T. Ford. 2004.
  • Civil War by Kathlyn Gay, Martin Gay. 1995.
  • Civil War Days : Discover the past with exciting projects, games, activities, and recipes by David C. King. 1999.
  • Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Civil War by Catherine Clinton. 1999.

  • Go here to test your knowledge with a Civil War crossword puzzle or word search.

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