11 Plus

Reading Comprehension Week 2 Q9


The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a civil war in the United States of America. It was fought when 11 Southern states left the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (also called the Confederacy). The US government and the states that remained loyal to it were called the Union.

The main cause of the war was slavery, which was allowed in the South, including all 11 Confederate States, while slavery was illegal in most of the North. The Confederate States tried to leave the Union after Abraham Lincoln, who disliked slavery, was elected US president. The Union believed that it was illegal for the states to break away. There were five states that allowed slavery which stayed in the Union.

The war began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, a fort in South Carolina that was held by Union soldiers. The war lasted four years and caused much damage in the South. Most battles were in northern states until 1862 and in southern states after 1862.

After four years of fighting, the Union won the war, and soon, slavery was made illegal everywhere in the United States.
When the United States of America was founded in 1776, most states allowed slavery. However, over the next 84 years, the Northern states decided that slavery was a bad thing and banned it. The Southern states kept slavery legal. Slave ownersgrew tobacco, cotton and other cash crops in those states, which made a lot of money for businesses in the North and in the South.

The United States became divided into slave and free states. By 1860, those groups were angry with each other. Few people wanted to end slavery in the south and so Americans argued on whether slavery should be allowed to spread to the territories and new states in the west. In the late 1850s, there was fighting in Kansas over whether the territory should allow slavery.

Abraham Lincoln from the Republican Party won the 1860 United States presidential election. He then did not want to ban slavery in the states. Like nearly everyone else, he believed that the US Constitution did not allow the federal government to ban slavery (the amendment to ban slavery was passed only in 1865). He also thought that banning it suddenly would anger the South.

Instead, Lincoln and his Republican Party thought that slavery should be banned in US territories. They thought that slavery would die out if it couldn’t go to new places.

Lincoln became president on March 4, 1861.In the four months between the election and the day that Lincoln became president, seven Southern states declared their independence from the Union. The outgoing US president, James Buchanan, said that was against the law but he could do nothing to stop them.


Text adapted from WikiKidz, which is in the public domain.

Question: In line 24, ‘1850s’ is written. A lot of people would put in an apostrophe. Why do we not use it?