- from Lincoln
Lincoln’s victory in the November 1860 presidential election further divided the nation. The South was outraged.
Less than two months after the election, South Carolina announced that the union between it and the rest of the country was “hereby dissolved.” Within weeks, six other Southern states also seceded (formally withdrew from the United States).
At his inauguration on March 4, 1861, Lincoln tried to heal the wounds, saying, “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 the North and the 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 Civil War was now a reality.
The Civil War (also called the War Between the States) killed more Americans than any other war in our history. Over 600,000 lives were lost. It was a bitter and bloody conflict in which men fought face to face, hand to hand, and sometimes brother against brother.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln had one goal. He wanted 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.” However, as the war progressed, his goals changed. He convinced himself that he wanted to win the war for justice—and to bring the United States to “a new birth of freedom.”
Few leaders have been so noble.