The shortest American Civil War summary you'll ever read

The issue of slavery divided the United States long before the election of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

After the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed in 1854, newly established states could use popular sovereignty to determine the status of slave legality within their borders. This led to violent conflict in Kansas and other undecided states, as well as the formation of the Republican Party, which opposed slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, according to

When Republican, anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election of 1860, the South was up in arms. According to the Library of Congress, South Carolina seceded from the U.S. in December 1860, before Lincoln even took office. By June of 1861, ten more states followed suit, forming the Confederate States of America.

When was the Civil War?

The Civil War started in April 1861 and raged for four years, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The war began to die down on April 9, 1865, when Confederate Gen. Robert E Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia. Other Confederate generals, such as Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, still had not negotiated surrenders at this time and continued fighting in the months after Lee's surrender, according to

President Andrew Johnson, formerly Vice President to the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, officially declared the end of the war on Aug. 20, 1866, as documented by the University of Virginia's Miller Center. This declaration followed the successful set-up of a new state government in Texas, the last Confederate holdout.

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When did the Civil War start?

The Confederate attack on South Carolina’s Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 was the first conflict of the Civil War, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. By April 14, federal troops surrendered and evacuated the fort, leaving it occupied by the Confederate army.

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When did the Civil War end?

It’s a common misconception that the Civil War ended when Gen. Robert E Lee surrendered his troops at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

Lee’s defeat and surrender were key contributors to the end of the Civil War, but the official end of the war did not come until 16 months later because Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered his other forces to continue fighting, according to

Between Lee’s surrender and the official end of the war, a number of bloody battles took place as the last fires of the Confederacy were stamped out, including the Battles of Morrisville Station, West Point, Columbus, Anderson and Palmito Ranch, as well as numerous naval raids, according to

As of April 2, 1866, President Andrew Johnson declared there no longer existed armed resistance in any state but Texas in a speech made available by the Miller Center.

President Johnson declared a formal end to the war on Aug. 20th, 1866, after the state of Texas successfully established a new, legitimate state government.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When was the Civil War? A basic summary of the beginning and end