History of the United States (1849–65)
Industrialization went forward in the Northwest and a rail network (and a telegraph network) linked the nation economically, opening up new markets. Immigration brought millions of European workers and farmers to the North. In the South planters shifted operations (and slaves) from the poor soils of the Southeast to the rich cotton lands of the Southwest.Issues of slavery in the new territories acquired in the War with Mexico (which ended in 1848) were temporarily resolved by the Compromise of 1850. One provision, the Fugitive Slave Law, sparked intense controversy, as revealed in the enormous interest in the plight of the escaped slave in Uncle Tom's Cabin, an anti-slavery novel and play.In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act reversed long-standing compromises by providing that each new state of the Union would decide its posture on slavery. The newly formed Republican party stood against the expansion of slavery and won control of most northern states (with enough electoral votes to win the presidency in 1860). The invasion of Bloody Kansas by pro- and anti-slavery factions intent on voting slavery up or down, with resulting bloodshed, angered both North and South. The Supreme Court tried to resolve the issue of slavery in the territories with a pro-slavery Dred Scott Decision that angered the North.After the 1860 election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, seven Southern states declared their secession from the United States between late 1860 and 1861, establishing a rebel government, the Confederate States of America on February 9, 1861. The Civil War began when Confederate General Pierre Beauregard opened fire upon Union troops at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Four more states seceded as Lincoln called for troops to fight an insurrection.The next four years were the darkest in American history as the nation tore at itself using the latest military technology and highly motivated soldiers. The urban, industrialized Northern states (the Union) eventually defeated the mainly rural, agricultural Southern states (the Confederacy), but between 600,000 and 700,000 American soldiers (on both sides combined) were killed, and much of the infrastructure of the South was devastated. About 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and an extraordinary 18% in the South. In the end, slavery was abolished, and the Union was restored, richer and more powerful than ever, while the South was embittered and impoverished.