As a slaveowner who depended on the continued existence of the slave trade to add to his fortune, Forrest opposed all Northern efforts to restrict or abolish (completely do away with) slavery in the United States. His support of slavery and his background as a Southerner made it easy for him to side with the Confederacy when the American Civil War erupted in the spring of 1861.
The Civil War came about as a result of long-time disagreements between the Northern United States and the Southern United States over a variety of issues. The most important issue dividing these regions was slavery. Many Northerners believed that slavery was wrong and wanted to take steps to end it. But slavery played a vital role in the Southern economy and culture, and Southerners resented Northern efforts to halt or contain the practice. Fearful that the national government might pass laws that would interfere with their traditional way of life, white Southerners argued that each state should decide for itself whether to allow slavery. Finally, America's westward expansion worsened these disputes because both sides wanted to spread their way of life—and their political ideas—into the new territories and states.
By the spring of 1861, several Southern states had seceded from (left) the United States to form a new country that allowed slavery, called the Confederate States of America. But the Federal government declared that it would use force if necessary to make the Confederate states return to the Union. When it became clear that neither side was going to back down, America's North and South began the process of building their armies for war.
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