When the Civil War finally exploded in Charleston Harbor, it was the result of a half-century of growing sectionalism. Escalating crises over property rights, human rights, states rights and constitutional rights divided the country as it expanded westward. Underlying all the economic, social and political rhetoric was the volatile question of slavery. Because its economic life had long depended on enslaved labor, South Carolina was the first state to secede when this way of life was threatened. Confederate forces fired the first shot in South Carolina, and the federal government responded with force. Decades of compromise were over, and the very nature of the Union was at stake. Please take time to read the text of the exhibit that appears at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square for more information on the events leading up to the first shots at Fort Sumter.
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