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Study notes

Impact of the American Civil War

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: Edexcel

The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. It was fought between the northern states of America, known as the Union, and the Southern states of America, known as the Confederates. The Union wanted to stop slavery in the USA, whereas the Confederates wanted to keep slavery as it formed the basis of their economy.  Over 600,000 people died in the war, and another 400,000 were wounded. The majority of the fighting had taken place in the south, meaning many of the southern states were left devastated. 

The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. It was fought between the northern states of America, known as the Union, and the Southern states of America, known as the Confederates. The Union wanted to stop slavery in the USA, whereas the Confederates wanted to keep slavery as it formed the basis of their economy.  Over 600,000 people died in the war, and another 400,000 were wounded. The majority of the fighting had taken place in the south, meaning many of the southern states were left devastated.

 

The war is significant to the settlement of the west as it allowed the government to pass two important acts. Before the war, the southern states and northern states disagreed over how the American West should be settled. The northern states wanted ordinary, free individuals and families to be able to create their own farms. However, the southern states wanted slavery to be legal in the west. This made it difficult to pass any formal acts regarding the American West as the vote was always split.

 

However, in 1861, the southern states withdrew from the USA to create their own Confederacy.  This meant the northern states were now able to pass any acts they wanted.  In 1862, two important acts were passed which had huge impact on the settlement of the west – The Homestead Act (May 1862) and the Pacific Railroad Act (July 1862). 

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