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 (1809—1865), 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.