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A nation divided

Constitutional: National government and states' rights

View of Washington with the Capitol still under construction.
The Northern and Southern states also disagreed on the power of the national government.

Mississippi Constitution
Northerner's believed the national government's power was supreme over the states. The South felt, however, that each of the states had certain rights that outweighed the power of the federal government in Washington D.C. Southern states believed they had the right to declare any national law illegal.

Having fought a war against the English government during the American Revolution, the Southern states thought they had the right to belong to the union or leave at any time.

This idea that states could break away from the Union and become an independent country was called secession. The North felt that if any state seceded, or broke away, it would have to be brought back to preserve the Union established by the United States Constitution.

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The story

1. A Nation Divided

2. Events and Battles

3. Leaders

4. Daily Life

5. Aftermath


North or South?

Match the abolitionist

What would you do?

Name that leader

Study the artifact

Be a columnist

Interactive map


SOL Civil War key word index