When the American Civil War finally erupted in Charleston Harbor, it was the result of a half-century of growing sectionalism. Underlying all the economic, social, and political crises was the volatile issue of slavery. Because South Carolina’s economic life had long depended on enslaved labor, the state was the first to secede from the Union.
Early on April 12, 1861, a mortar shell fired by Confederate forces from nearby Fort Johnson burst over Fort Sumter, igniting the Civil War. Two years later, Fort Sumter, then in Confederate hands, became the focus of a gallant defense in which Confederate soldiers kept Federals at bay for 587 days.
Today Fort Sumter is a symbol of the war that remade the nation and a monument to the soldiers, both North and South, who defended it.
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