The Confederacy comprised the eleven southern states that seceded from the Union between 1861 and 1865. The move to establish a separate government was quickened by a network of tensions that polarized the North and South. The most prominent issue, though, was that of slavery. Lincoln’s stand against the spread of this ‘peculiar institution’ in his presidential campaign had caused outrage in the Southern slave states. When he secured the presidency, they declared that the Constitution represented an agreement which individual states were free to leave at any time. The U.S. government, or what became known as the Union, pronounced secession illegal. The ensuing struggles between the two factions escalated until, on April 12th 1861, the Civil War broke out. Battle raged for four years until Confederate forces, hard hit by a series of painful defeats, were left with no option but to surrender.
In the wake of its defeat, the South underwent a seismic change. The war had wreaked destruction on homes and businesses, leaving many in poverty; slavery, on which plantation life was founded, was made illegal; the triumphant Unionists were able to impose Reconstruction measures and economic policies on a population who felt them to be a direct attack. The aftershocks of this humiliation, which continued to be felt for many decades, ripple ceaselessly beneath the surface of The Sound and the Fury.