Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.7a - Events and Differences Leading to the Civil War

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by

a) explaining the major events and the differences between northern and southern states that divided Virginians and led to secession, war, and the creation of West Virginia.

Adopted: 2015


  • War is a major conflict between groups of people, nations, or states.
  • One person can affect the outcome of important events.
  • Economics can create differences between people of different regions.


Because of economic differences, the North and the South were unable to resolve their conflicts, and the South seceded from the United States.

Virginians were divided about secession from the Union, which led to the creation of West Virginia.


Differences between northern and southern states

  • The economy in the northern part of the United States was more industrialized, while the economy in the southern part was agricultural and relied more on slave labor.
  • Northern states wanted the new states created out of the western territories to be “free states,” while the southern states wanted the new states to be “slave states.”

Events leading to secession and war

  • Nat Turner led a revolt against slavery in Virginia.
  • Abolitionists campaigned to end slavery.
  • Harriet Tubman supported secret routes that enslaved African Americans used. These routes became known as the “Underground Railroad.”
  • John Brown led a raid on the United States Armory (Arsenal) at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (present-day West Virginia). He was trying to start a slave rebellion. He was captured and hanged.
  • After Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States in 1860, some southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Later, Virginia seceded and joined them.

Creation of West Virginia

  • Conflict grew between the eastern counties of Virginia that relied on slavery and the western counties that did not favor slavery.
  • Many disagreements between the two regions of the state led to the creation of West Virginia.


Updated: May 18, 2018