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Although the U.S. Civil War had multiple and complex causes, the question of slavery was a very important factor.

As slavery was part of most civilizations on all continents (especially before the last couple of centuries), and in many cases the slave class had a different ethnic makeup than the privileged class, it occurred to me that I know about many slave revolts from different eras and locations, but all of them involve the slave class fighting against the privileged class.

In the US Civil War the overwhelming majority of the fighters of the anti-slavery side were not members of the slave class. Was this unique in history? I never heard about an army of Ottomans or Mongols or Romans or Almohads etc. to fight for the freedom of the very ethnic groups who served them (or at least people from the same group as them) as slaves.

Members of a privileged group fighting (as in risking their lives in battle, not just making speeches) for the freedom of a group they are not part of. Was this thing unique for the US civil War? If not, was it the first case?

I wouldn't count a few sympathizers who join a slave revolt despite being of higher social standing. For an example to count, the anti-slavery fight has to be started and led mainly by people who are (or could be if they wanted) members of the slave-owning class.

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    This is an opinion question. I've been a part of too many discussions of this topic that degenerate into arguments and beyond. Each participant in the war will have come to that position through an unique mixture of influences. I also believe American chattel slavery is quite distinct from slavery practiced anywhere else on the planet. – Mark C. Wallace Apr 7 '16 at 19:33
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    @MarkC.Wallace : Both the title and the text contain the word "slavery", so it should be obvious that it's about slavery as an institution, the question even explains what type of slavery I was referring to, and that I refer to slavery literally (people treated as property) and not figuratively. But if you still feel that it's not clear enough, I'm open to suggestions how to improve the answer to make it more obvious. There are many questions about slavery on this site, many of them high-voted, and seemingly all of them use the word literally, not figuratively. – vsz Apr 7 '16 at 20:08
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    Many colonial endeavours were ostensibly about ending slavery (or some other practice deemed unacceptable). I am guessing that it's not what you are looking for however. – Relaxed Apr 7 '16 at 20:22
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    Would you count the liberation of France from Nazi Germany as "people fighting for the freedom of a group they were not a part of?" – Αδριανός Apr 8 '16 at 22:59
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    @vsz In fact I did read the whole question-- And nowhere in the question do you specify "slavery in the classical sense." But at any rate, Nazi Germany is in fact a very good example of a totalitarian state which employed slave labor to the benefit of, if not the direct employ, of the general population. Many business conglomerates, across the nation, employed knowingly forced Jewish labor. These were not, necessarily, government owned businesses. And in fact, Allied forces did know about the holocaust, as early as 1942 (continued). – Αδριανός Apr 8 '16 at 23:09
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Depends on how narrowly you define 'freedom'. Certainly many nations have fought to remove districts and states from other nation's rule. For example, the French intervention in the American Revolution helped the Colonists be "free" in their minds, even though they were not chattel slaves originally.

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    And the Spanish Civil War drew many non-Spaniards to fight Fascism. – TheHonRose Apr 8 '16 at 10:58

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