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In the decades leading up to the Civil War, the United States became increasingly split along geographical lines. The North and the South developed very different economies and cultures. Loyalty to region often seemed to triumph over loyalty to the nation as a whole. This regional split is called sectionalism. With the addition of each new state to the union, the balance of power between Southern and Northern states came under threat. This threat intensified sectionalist divisions, thereby creating a crisis that the nation’s leaders struggled to address.