- from Underground Railroad
By the 1850s, Americans were sharply divided over the issue of slavery. In the North, many worked to end slavery.
Northerners joined antislavery groups, giving out leaflets on streets and holding fairs and concerts to raise money to help slaves escape. The Underground Railroad and attempts by Northerners to disobey the Fugitive Slave Laws made Southerners angry. By 1860, many of them felt that the only way to protect slavery and the rights of southern states was to secede from (leave) the Union. They planned to form a separate country. President Abraham Lincoln said their actions were illegal. He sent the Union Army to stop them. This decision led to a bloody fight between the North and South. The Civil War started in 1861 and lasted four years. When the Union Army finally won, African Americans throughout the United States were free at last.