The American Civil War Vocabulary

Causes and Events


There was no singular EVENT that led to the beginning of the CIVIL WAR in America. A fight between the Northern and Southern states dragged on for many years, causing HOSTILITY

to grow. There were DEBATES that created tensions and arguments to ESCALATE that CONTRIBUTED to the start of the war. These issues eventually caused a DIVIDE between the states.


The invention of the COTTON GIN in October 1793 by ELI WHITNEY was one of the contributing causes of the civil war. How did this happen? SLAVES were used to clean the cotton, this machine shortened the time it took to do this process. This made the need for more slaves to grow because the plantation owners doubled their production with the cotton gin, therefore, increasing their profits. The plantation owners did not want to RELINQUISH their rights to own slaves. Cotton was referred to as "WHITE GOLD".

The MISSOURI COMPROMISE happened in 1820, which made Missouri and Maine both slave states to even out power in congress. This caused more of a divide between the North and South. Slavery would continue after these were added to the slave side. The UNION got more states to join then, but the problem of slavery would remain an issue for a long time.


FEDERAL government authorities were seen as abusing their AUTHORITY while making decisions about states rights. The states wanted the freedom to exercise their own rules and not follow only federal rules. In South Carolina, the governor stated that laws ignoring the U,S, Constitution's rights, should not be followed. STATES RIGHTS were more important. This DOCTRINE OF NULLIFICATION became an avenue for more hostility between the states.

Soldiers at rest.

During war there is times of peace that helped the soldiers recover and continue to fight.


ABOLITIONISTS were people from the North, who were against slavery. A writer named WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON created a newspaper that helped the abolitionists communicate. Throughout America, they formed groups to end slavery, enraging those in the South. A revolt of slaves lead by NAT TURNER, caused the death of more than 50 white people causing more debates that lead to the civil war.


The FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT was written to keep the southerners happy after congress declared that California was a free state and slavery was illegal in the District of Columbia. This act forced those opposed to slavery to help or be charged $1000. This did not APPEASE the southerners and northerners for long.
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