Who created slavery

End of the American Civil WarSlavery will be abolished

(Abraham Lincoln) "Eighty-seven years ago our fathers founded a new nation on this continent, begotten freely and consecrated to the principle that all human beings are created equal."

In the middle of the American Civil War, in November 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln gave a short, legendary speech on the inauguration of a military cemetery in Gettysburg. In a few words he summed up the democratic self-image of the United States. Four months earlier, a major battle of the Civil War had taken place in Gettysburg, north of Washington, with 30,000 soldiers killed or wounded in the process.

The civil war broke out, as Abraham Lincoln put it, "somehow in the dispute over slavery". While the north had abolished slavery and emphasized the cohesion of the nation, the rural south defended the autonomy of individual states and the right to subjugate people. "When the Constitution was written, the queue of slavery lay dormant under the table," later wrote the American author John J. Chapman.

After US citizens elected Abraham Lincoln, a declared opponent of slavery, as their president in November 1860, a total of eleven southern states split off at the beginning of the following year, including Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida. They named Jefferson Davis president of their confederation and affirmed the right to slavery.

On April 12, 1861, southerners fired at US troops stationed in South Carolina, unleashing the Civil War. Both sides fought countless small skirmishes with high casualties. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln declared all southern slaves to be free. However, the fighting continued unabated, even after the north's victory at the Battle of Gettysburg. North America expert Ekkehart Krippendorff: "This has actually been the bloodiest civil war ever, because it was fought for the first time with modern technology. The machine gun was used for the first time, submarines were built for the first time. Ironclad ships were built, barbed wire invented, trenches. All this modern warfare was tried out here for the first time. "

The civil war became increasingly bitter as it lasted. General William T. Sherman, North Commander in Chief, pursued a scorched earth policy. In the summer of 1864 he gave the motto: "We are not only fighting enemy armies, but a hostile people, and must therefore ensure that old and young, poor and rich feel the hard hand of war as much as their armies."

The northern troops killed people and cattle as they marched through the south, they set farms on fire and destroyed cities like Atlanta and Charleston, until after the defeat at Richmond the southern army surrendered on April 9, 1865. "The war is over, the rebels are our compatriots again," declared Northern General Ulysses Grant after the surrender. Nevertheless, five days later a fanatical southerner shot Abraham Lincoln, an attack on the unity of the nation and the fight against slavery.

Despite the decisive defeat of Richmond, individual Confederate troops continued to fight until General Stand Watie, a member of the Cherokee Indians, signed the last ceasefire agreement on June 23, 1865 at Fort Towson in what is now Oklahoma.

Around 600,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, far more than the Americans lost in World War II, as well as countless civilians. After that, slavery was finally banned by an amendment to the constitution, all people born in the USA - with the exception of the Indians - were now equal before the law. But legal action alone could not remove racial barriers and social discrimination, until today.