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The United States became polarized over the issue of slavery, represented by the slave and free states, in effect divided by the Mason–Dixon line which delineated (free) Pennsylvania from (slave) Maryland and Delaware.
More than one million slaves were sold from the Upper South, which had a surplus of labor, and taken to the Deep South in a forced migration, splitting up many families.For slavery among Native Americans, see Slavery among Native Americans in the United States.For slavery in the colonial period, see Slavery in the colonial United States.However, the rapid expansion of the cotton industry in the Deep South after the invention of the cotton gin greatly increased demand for slave labor, and the Southern states continued as slave societies.Those states attempted to extend slavery into the new Western territories to keep their share of political power in the nation; Southern leaders also wanted to annex Cuba to be used as a slave territory.When Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election on a platform of halting the expansion of slavery, seven states broke away to form the Confederacy.
The first six states to secede held the greatest number of slaves in the South.
The historian Ira Berlin noted that what he called the "charter generation" in the colonies was sometimes made up of mixed-race men (Atlantic Creoles) who were indentured servants, and whose ancestry was African and Iberian.
They were descendants of African women and Portuguese or Spanish men who worked in African ports as traders or facilitators in the slave trade.
Many white Southern Christians, including church ministers, attempted to justify their support for slavery as modified by Christian paternalism.
The largest denominations, the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, split over the slavery issue into regional organizations of the North and South.
There were no laws regarding slavery early in Virginia's history.