- from Lincoln
Lincoln’s victory in November of 1860 split the nation even more. The South was furious. Less than two months after the election, South Carolina announced that the union between it and the rest of the U.S. was “hereby dissolved.”
A few weeks later, another six Southern states seceded (officially left the United States).
Lincoln was sworn in on March 4, 1861. He tried to heal the wounds. He said: “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break, our bonds of affection.” But there was no affection left between North and South. At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina. The war was on.
The Civil War (also called the War Between the States) killed more Americans than any other war. Over 600,000 people died. It was a bitter, bloody conflict. Men fought face to face and hand to hand. Sometimes brother fought against brother.
In the beginning of the war, Lincoln had one goal: to keep the Union together. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it,” he said, “and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” As the war went on, his goals changed. He wanted to win the war for justice. He wanted to bring the United States to “a new birth of freedom.”
Few leaders have been so noble.