The abolitionists are screaming for Lincoln to free the slaves. But in his own inaugural address, Lincoln said that slavery would be left alone in the slave states. The issue is the expansion of slavery in the West . If there is to be a war, Lincoln knows he needs to hold onto the slave states that border the SouthMaryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Delaware. He says if he frees the slaves, loses the war, and destroys the Union, he won't help the slaves or anybody else. But there seems to be no way to stop a war. If the Union is to survive, and be true to its founding principlethat all men are created equalpeople will have to fight for it.
And this is how it begins: Southern guns fire on U.S. troops at a small fort in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina. Theodore Upson was a boy who was there. He wrote: "Father and I were husking our corn when William Corry came across the field. He was excited and said, 'Jonathan, the Rebels have fired upon Fort Sumter.' Father got white, and couldn't say a word."
Fort Sumter is a United States government fort, and those shots announce that South Carolina is serious about having left the United States. The South Carolinians do more than fire on the fort. They destroy it. A Charleston eyewitness describes it this way : "A perfect sheet of flame flashed out, a deafening roar, a rumbling, deadening sound, and the war was on."