What Is an Internal Conflict in American History?

An internal conflict is a struggle within a country or society that arises due to differences in beliefs, values, or interests. In American history, there have been several instances of internal conflicts that have shaped the nation’s identity and history. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major internal conflicts in American history.

The Civil War

The Civil War was one of the most significant internal conflicts in American history. It was fought between 1861 and 1865 and was a result of several factors, including disagreements over slavery, states’ rights, and economic policies.

The war pitted the Northern states (known as the Union) against the Southern states (known as the Confederacy). The war resulted in over 600,000 deaths and ultimately led to the abolition of slavery.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement

The Women’s Suffrage Movement was another internal conflict that had far-reaching implications for American society. The movement aimed to secure voting rights for women and began in earnest during the late 19th century.

Women activists faced significant opposition from politicians, religious leaders, and other groups who believed that women did not have the intellectual capacity or moral fiber to vote. The movement gained momentum during World War I when women contributed significantly to the war effort. Finally, in 1920, women were granted voting rights through the 19th Amendment to the U.S constitution.

The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle for racial equality that took place primarily during the 1950s and 1960s. African Americans faced widespread discrimination and segregation in public places such as schools and restaurants.

Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X led peaceful protests and civil disobedience campaigns to bring attention to these issues. The movement culminated in landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a divisive conflict that took place during the Cold War. The United States supported South Vietnam against communist North Vietnam and its allies.

However, the war faced significant opposition from the American public who believed that it was unnecessary and unjustified. The anti-war movement gained momentum during the late 1960s and early 1970s with massive protests and demonstrations taking place across the country. The war ended in 1975 with a North Vietnamese victory.

The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement

The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement is an ongoing internal conflict in American society. The movement aims to secure equal rights for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.

Significant progress has been made in recent years with landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. However, discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals continue to persist in many areas of American society.


Internal conflicts have played a significant role in shaping American history and society. These conflicts reflect the diverse beliefs, values, and interests of Americans and highlight the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. By understanding these conflicts, we can gain insight into our nation’s past as well as our present challenges and opportunities for growth.