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A Nation Divided: The American Civil War

February 7th, 2012 · Judith · Staff Recommendations

The American Civil War began over 150 years ago when Confederate Troops under the command of General Pierre Beauregard attacked Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina in April of 1861. No soldiers were killed, but at the end of the American Civil War in April of 1865 the United States had lost more soliders and sailors than any other war in American history. The main reasons for the American Civil War were slavery and the right of slavery to spread in new American States and the right of a state to leave the United States. At the end of the American Civil War, slavery was prohibited and no state could legally leave the Union.

When the United States became independent from Great Britain in 1783, most American states allowed slavery such as New York. However, New York ended slavery in 1828 but still an important American abolitionist (one who wished to end slavery) such as Sojourner Truth was born a slave in New York State in 1797 and did not become free until 1828. During the War of 1812, several New England states considered leaving the Union and actually met at Hartford, Connecticut to discuss that possibility. Therefore, to be fair, slavery and secession were not a uniquely Southern concept.

Both the Harrison Public Library and the West Harrison Branch have several excellent books on the American Civil War, such as:

  1. 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
  2. America Aflame: How The Civil War Created a Nation by David Goldfield
  3. A World on Fire: Britain’s Critical Role In The American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
  4. The American Civil War: A Military History by John Keegan
  5. Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln As Commander In Chief by James McPherson

Recent fiction books on the American Civil War include:

  1. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
  2. Homeland by Barbara Hambly

The PBS documentary The Civil War by Ken Burns is available in DVD format at the West Harrison Branch. It is considered one of the best documentaries on the American Civil War.

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