What happened during the American Revolution

American Civil War

US independence

In 1773 riots broke out in the British colonies of North America. The population rebelled against taxes that were to be imposed on them by the government in London. The protest turned into a struggle for civil liberty.

On July 4, 1776, the 13 North American colonies declared themselves independent and founded the United States of America - the date is celebrated in the United States to this day as "Independence Day". The British sent troops to militarily end the uprising. The struggle for freedom raged for seven years, in which the British were finally defeated.

In 1788 the Constitution of the United States of America came into force. A nation emerged whose constitution granted the individual states sovereignty. The decision for or against slavery also rests with the states.

Lured by the dream of great happiness, numerous immigrants reached the USA. By the middle of the 19th century the United States had risen to become a world power, but a crisis began to develop within its borders.

Slavery - Yes or No?

In the northern states lived 20 million people, in the south almost seven million. The people in the north were progressive, in the south people thought conservatively. The north had developed into a booming industrial conurbation, the south was dominated by agriculture.

The rich landowners in the south earned their money primarily from the cultivation and export of cotton. However, they could only operate the huge farms profitably because they had cheap labor.

Almost four million black slaves had to work in the cotton fields. Slavery had been abolished in the north and followed the example of the modern world.

With great political pressure, the north wanted to get the south to abolish slavery as well. The renunciation of slave labor would have plunged the southern farmers into an economic fiasco.

Lincoln took office as President

There were heated debates over the slave question in the US Senate. Voices were raised in the south calling for a secession from the Union. The conflict was also fueled by the upcoming presidential elections. Abraham Lincoln was one of the most promising candidates and an opponent of slavery.

When Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States in November 1860, political consequences were immediately drawn in the South. In December, South Carolina announced its withdrawal from the federal government.

In February 1861 the representatives of six slave states met and decided to form the "Confederate States of America". A short time later, five other states joined this confederation.

The beginning of the war

Richmond (Virginia) became the capital of the Confederation, and Jefferson Davis was appointed President. The breakaway states drew up a constitution which in most respects coincided with that of the Union. However, property of slaves was expressly placed under protection.

In the south, the expropriation of federal property, including military facilities, began. The union-loyal occupation of Fort Sumter, a fortress in the port of Charleston, South Carolina, opposed the surrender to the south.

On April 12, 1861, troops from the south took the fort under artillery fire. This military action was the prelude to the bloodiest confrontation on American soil to date.

After the surrender of Fort Sumter, Abraham Lincoln raised an army of 75,000 volunteers and advanced south. He hoped to bring the rebels to their knees with a quick victory. But the south was prepared for a military confrontation.

In addition to having highly motivated troops, the Confederates also had better trained officers. Therefore, the Southern Army was able to win the first battles of the civil war. But the tide soon turned in favor of the north.

Technology as a decisive factor

After the first lost battles, Lincoln had set his war machine in motion. New recruits were constantly being trained and brought to the front.

In addition, the powerful armaments industry in the north supplied the troops with supplies and new weapons. The railroad proved to be extremely important as a means of transport for this.

The south soon had nothing to counter the technical lead of the north. In addition, the Confederates were cut off from supplies by a sea blockade.

After the Union troops had also brought another important supply artery of the south with the Mississippi under control, the defeat of the Confederates was inevitable. July 1863 brought a decisive victory for the north with the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The war of extermination

The longer the war raged, the harder and more relentless the fighting took place. The man-to-man fight had turned into an iron war in which the most modern technology was used.

In order to gain control of the Mississippi, both sides developed armored gunboats. Forerunners of submarines were also used. Civilian victims were also deliberately accepted.

Northern troops drew an almost 100 kilometer wide swath of devastation on their advance through southern territory. People and livestock were killed, farms set on fire, cities like Atlanta and Charleston destroyed.

The American Civil War had become a war of extermination, waged by all means.

The end and the consequences

The south was finally bled out. The final decisive battle was fought for the capital of the Confederation. The Commander-in-Chief of the Union Forces, General Ulysses S. Grant, had fought his way with his troops as far as Richmond and was besieging the city.

General Robert Edward Lee, Commander in Chief of the Southern Army, decided to surrender on April 9, 1865. That officially ended the war. In the end, 600,000 people lost their lives and tens of thousands were mutilated. The economic damage caused by the destruction was enormous.

Lincoln, re-elected President in 1864, had saved the Union. But he had not overcome the hatred between the northern and southern states. He died on April 15, 1865, from the bullets of a fanatical southerner.

Lincoln's goal of abolishing slavery in all states of the Union came about shortly after his death.

It took until well into the 1870s for the southern states to recover economically from the aftermath of the war and to be reintegrated socially and politically into the Union on an equal footing.

The Ku Klux Klan was formed shortly after the war. After the end of the war, members of this racist secret society took action against entrepreneurs from the north who were said to want to profit from the defeat in the south.

The clan also hunted down former slaves who had been given political offices in the south. There is still a noticeable gap between northern and southern states today.