Why did America Have a Civil War?

Great question, Jay!  A long, long time ago, I was in a class that was all about this question.  Today, I’ll try and share two main reasons for the Civil War.

pick cotton

A Civil War is when two parts of the same country fight against each other.  In America in 1861, the South started fighting with the North.  The South had a lot of big farms called plantations (plan – tay – shun).  They grew a lot of cotton on these plantations.  Cotton is white, and people make clothes with it.  The problem with cotton, is that it takes a lot of people to grow it and pick it.  Too many people.  So farmers in the South had slaves.  Slaves are people that work for somebody for no money, but they don’t want to.  Most of the slaves were from Africa.

CW map north south

The South said they needed slaves to work on the plantations, and the North thought that having slaves was wrong.  The people who had plantations and slaves were called masters.  The masters in the South thought the North would try to free the slaves.  Free the slaves means to let them go away from the plantations.  Then, the South started the Civil War.  11 states left the United States of America (USA) and started the Confederate States of America (CSA).  A whole new country!

not slave not master lincoln quote

After 4 years of fighting, it was the North that was the winner of the Civil War.  The South was part of the USA again.  Abraham Lincoln was the president (He’s on the penny!) and he ended slavery. (slay – ver – ee)  But remember, I said there were two reasons!  The first one, the North thought that people like slaves should be free.  And two, the South thought each state should be free to make their own rules.


  • The North wanted people like slaves to be free.
  • The South thought that the USA can’t tell each state what to do.
  • The South left the USA and started the CSA.
  • The North won the war, and brought the South back to the USA.
  • The end.

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