One of the great tragedies of American history was the treatment of African-Americans. African slaves arrived with some of the earliest European settlers, and slavery had been a centuries-old institution in America by the 1850s.
Civil War, American
The chief and immediate cause of the war was slavery. Southern states, including the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, depended on slavery to support their economy. Southerners used slave labor to produce crops, especially cotton. Although slavery was illegal in the Northern states, only a small proportion of Northerners actively opposed it.
—Source: “Civil War, American.” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000
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