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      The American Civil War was a war lasting from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern states and the Southern states of the United States of America. The main issue contributing to the outbreak of war was states' fights: whether or not individual state governments had the right to make their own decisions about their own matters. The South feared that the U.S. government would take too much control over state governments, listening to the more powerful Northern states and then forcing changes that would be harmful to the Southern states' economies and freedoms. They were afraid of this control because it reminded them of the British king's rule, which they had escaped 100 years ago. When Abraham Lincoln (18091865), who was very anti-states' rights, was elected president in late 1860 by an election that was swung by Northern states' votes, the Southern states all left the Union and formed a new government called the Confederate States of America. The North tried to force the South to join the Union again, declaring war on the Southern states. After the war began, Lincoln made slavery one of the turning points of the fight. There were many slaves in the United States, both in the North and the South, but the citizens of the Southern states greatly depended on slaves to work on their large plantations, which were the basis of the South's economy. Over the next four years, much of the South's economy, cities and countryside were destroyed, until finally the South surrendered to the North. Since the war, however, the same basic question of states' rights has continued to trouble American society.

 

美国南北战争是在1861年到1865年之间,发生在美国北方联邦政府与南部同盟政府之间长达四年之久的内战。美国独立战争后,南方和北方逐渐形成完全不同的社会政治经济制度。南方以种植园为其主要经济形式,而种植园中的主要劳动力是种植园主的黑人奴隶;北方的主要经济形式则是大工业生产,工厂中的主要劳动力是自由劳工。到19世纪60年代,南北两方经济利益的冲突集中表现在究竟是把自由劳工制还是蓄奴制引入美国扩张中的西部领土上去。1860年亚伯拉罕·林肯当选总统,在许多南方的白人农场主看来,这是一个长期的和不可挽回的政治失败,这个失败将导致南方蓄奴制度的瓦解和社会动乱。1861年,南部11州纷纷脱离联邦政府,并宣布成立“南部联盟”,另立政府。1861412,南方军队向联邦设在南卡罗来纳州的萨姆特要塞开火,美国内战爆发。186549,南军部队陷入北方军队的重围之中,被迫投降,美国内战终止,美国恢复统一。北方在战争中的胜利确立了大资产阶级在全国的统治地位。内战取消了奴隶制,加速了美国经济的发展。

 

(本文选自人民教育出版社《中学英语文化背景知识手册》,2008年8月第1版)

 

 

    
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