History provides us with defining moments from which we judge where we are with where we have been. The Civil War provides the United States with one of its critical defining moments that continues to play a vital role in defining ourselves as a Nation. Fort Sumter is the place where it began. America's most tragic conflict ignited at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, when a chain reaction of social, economic and political events exploded into civil war. At the heart of these events was the issue of states rights versus federal authority flowing over the underlying issue of slavery.
Fueled by decades of disagreement and confrontation, South Carolina seceded in protest of Lincoln's election and the social and economic changes sure to follow. With Fort Sumter as an unyielding bastion of Federal authority, the war became inevitable.
A powerful symbol to both the South and the North, Fort Sumter remains a memorial to all that fought to hold it.