Colonial Williamsburg explores origins of Civil War

The Civil War did not erupt until April 1861 — when rebel guns began firing on the federal garrison at Fort Sumter.

But the struggle that ultimately cost 600,000 lives reaches back much further in time, with the first signs of disunion appearing not long after the Revolution.

As early as the 1790s, Thomas Jefferson began thinking about states’ rights, said Jim Horn, vice president for research and programming at Colonial Williamsburg. George Washington watched the shadow of sectionalism more warily, condemning any attempt to “enfeeble” the Union in his 1796 farewell address.

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