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Webisode 6: A War to End Slavery
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Young Soldier Boy
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A Civil War engagement Americans Against Americans

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It was the worst war in American history. It was called the Civil War, or the War Between the States, and sometimes brother fought brother and father fought son See It Now - Young Soldier Boy. More than 620,000 Americans died. Cities were destroyed, farms burned, homes leveled See It Now - Ruins at Hampton, Virginia. On one bloody day at a place called Antietam, more men were killed than on any other day in all our history See It Now - Dead at Antietam.

What was it all about? Why were Americans fighting Americans? When the war began, people on both sides claimed they weren't fighting over slavery. But they were fooling themselves. Most white Southerners wanted to keep slavery because they thought their way of life depended on it See It Now - Woman With Her Black Servant. The Southerners—they were also called Rebels—believed in states' rights. They thought any state should have the right to pull out of the United States. They said they were doing the same thing that George Washington and John Adams and the other revolutionaries had done against King George: fighting for their freedom. President Abraham Lincoln did not agree See It Now - Abraham Lincoln. He said, Hear It Now - Abraham Lincoln "We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not mean the same thing. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted."

What the South did was form its own nation. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union Check The Source - South Carolina Secedes. They created the Confederate States of America and elected their own president and congress See It Now - Jefferson Davis's Inauguration Check The Source - Jefferson Davis to the Confederate Congress. They said all they wished was to go peacefully from the Union. But the Union wouldn't let them do it. Northerners said that when the states joined the Union they all agreed to uphold the Constitution, and they couldn't just pull out any time they wanted. If that were allowed, soon there would be no Union at all. Abraham Lincoln put it this way: Hear It Now - Abraham Lincoln "We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose Check The Source - Abraham Lincoln's Message to Congress, July 4, 1861."


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Did You Know?
The northern generals thought they would take Manassas and then march south, to Richmond, Virginia. The Confederate states of America had earlier made Richmond their capital city.


Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?



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