From 1861-1865 a civil war was fought in the United Stated of America, and 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of that war. In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against expanding slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republicans strongly advocated nationalism, and in their 1860 platform they denounced threats of disunion as avowals of treason.
After a Republican victory, but before the new administration took office on March 4, 1861, seven cotton states declared their secession and joined to form the Confederate States of America. Both the outgoing administration of President James Buchanan and the incoming administration rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion. The other eight slave states rejected calls for secession at this point. Hostilities began on April 12, 1861 when blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah…
Did I already lose you? Oh forget it, just visit history.com for a beautifully designed interactive infographic that could probably explain things better than I could while making it fun in the process.