The Civil War divided the United States in two, left more than 750,000 dead and resulted in the release of four million people from bondage. One hundred and fifty years later, it remains the crucible in which the challenges and struggles of modern America were made.
The carnage of the Civil War accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union. The victorious North became synonymous with America as a land of innovation and industrialization. Religion was supplanted by science and a gospel of progress, and the South was left behind for nearly a century.
David Goldfield is Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the author of "America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation."
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