The practice of people owning other people is called slavery. Slavery officially ended in the United States on December 18, 1865 after 27 of the 36 states ratified the 13th amendment of the Constitution. The 13th amendment states "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States". Today nearly all societies consider slavery to be wrong. Most consider personal freedom to be a basic human right. The first slaves came to North America from Africa arriving in the English colony of Virginia in 1619. All British colonies permitted slavery, but the largest farms that used the most slaves were in the South.Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 when the United States was in its third year of the bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free". Unfortunately slavery continued for a few more years until the war ended.

The Civil War lasted from 1861- 1865 and was often called the "War Between the States". The war was fought because 11 southern states wanted to leave the United States of America forming the Confederate states of America also called the "Confederacy". The loyalists of the United States government were called the "Union". The main cause of the Civil War in America was slavery. Slavery was very common in the southern states, including all 11 that joined the Confederates, and it was illegal in most of the northern states. After Abraham Lincoln, who disliked slavery, was elected president of the United States the Confederate states tried to leave the Union. The war began on April 12, 1861 when Confederate soldiers attacked Fort Sumter. Many soldiers on both sides died during the war. The union eventually won the war in 1865.The majority of the war was fought in the South and many railroads, farms and houses were destroyed during the war. Most people in the south became very poor after the war. After the war ended the president pardoned all of the Confederate soldiers in the southern states and allowed them to rejoin the United States again. 620,000 people died in the  American Civil War.

The Underground Railroad was a network of both African-American as well as whites offering shelter to escape being enslaved people from the South. The majority of slaves escaped through border states like Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland. The fugitive slave act of 1793 made capturing escaped slaves of big business and there were very few places to hide.people called conductors guided slaves to private homes, churches and school houses. The safe places were called stations or depots. The people operating them were called stationmaster's.

Canada was the final decimation for many slaves traveling through the Underground Railroad. An estimated 30,000-40,000 former slaves settled in Canada, most between 1850 and 1860. Estimates of the number of slaves who reached freedom varies greatly as many setteled in the north and did not want to bring attention to themselves. Some estimate at least 100,000 slaves were helped towards freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Only a small minority of Northerners participated in the Underground Railroad but its very existence proved northern sympathy for the lot of the slaves in the antebellum. At the same time it convinced many Southerners that the North as a whole would not allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.

Quilt codes of the Underground Railroad

Codewords of the Underground Railroad classroom activity and lesson plan

Underground Railroad clues and coded secrets

Plantation games 1850 for children

The Underground Railroad

Pathways to Freedom

The Chosen One: Story of Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

American Civil War

American History Games

Video: History of Slavery in the US for kids

"I will be heard!"

Antebellum Slavery - Life of a Slave

African-American slave trade & the middle passage

Build your own plantation in colonial Maryland

British abolition

The Civil Rights Movement

American History Games

Brain pop Civil War movie for kids, free, 5 minutes

History Channel Civil War games for kids

Civil War quiz game

Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad

Events Leading Up to the Civil War

Slavery and Industry

Map of the Civil War

Uniforms of the Civil War

Video: Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg for Kids


Civil War Ends - A Child's Diary (primary document)

Eyewitness to History

Civil War Timeline

Abraham Lincoln

Dr. Toer's Amazing Magic Lantern Show: A Different View of Emancipation

Civil war themed field day outdoor games

Civil war themed party games

The Civil War, US History, Free iPad & iPhone apps