nearly every book i've read (and i've read lots and lots of them) has said that slavery was the impetus for the civil war. if slavery never existed the south would have not seceded from the union. you can talk all day long about tariffs and states' rights, but those were secondary issues. and the states' rights issue was only brought about because of slavery. yes, there were plenty of poor whites in the south that were against slavery, but the people in power, making the decisions for the confederacy, were slave holders.
from wikipedia (dont like the source? check the citations) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War
"The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories."
"he first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six."
"Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, a key fort held by Union troops in South Carolina."
"Slavery was the central source of escalating political tension in the 1850s."
"After Lincoln had won without carrying a single Southern state, many Southern whites felt that disunion had become their only option, because they felt as if they were losing representation, which hampered their ability to promote pro-slavery acts and policies."
"Lincoln's assessment of the political issue for the 1860 elections was that, "This question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present.""
"Meanwhile, Southern Vice President, Alexander Stephens, in the Cornerstone Speech, declared the new confederate "Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.""
"Considering the relative weight given to causes of the Civil War by contemporary actors, historians such as Chandra Manning argue that both Union and Confederate fighting soldiers believed that slavery caused the Civil War. Union men mainly believed the war was to emancipate the slaves. Confederates fought to protect southern society, and slavery as an integral part of it."
"Addressing the causes, Eric Foner would relate a historical context with multidimensional political, social and economic variables. The several causes united in the moment by a consolidating nationalism. A social movement that was individualist, egalitarian and perfectionist grew to a political democratic majority attacking slavery, and slavery's defense in the Southern pre-industrial traditional society brought the two sides to war."
and here's the states' rights bullshit:
"At the time, most Americans agreed that states had certain rights, however, they did not agree as to whether or not those rights carried over when a citizen left the boundaries of the state. The Southern position was that citizens of every state had the right to take their property anywhere in the U.S. and not have it taken away; specifically they could bring their slaves anywhere and they would remain slaves. Northerners rejected this "right" because it would violate the right of a free state to outlaw slavery within its borders."
"While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states'-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states' rights for what purpose? States' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle."
and here's a little tidbit on tariffs, which suggest that slavery was intimately connected:
"Historically, southern slave-holding states, because of their low cost manual labor, had little perceived need for mechanization, and supported having the right to sell cotton and purchase manufactured goods from any nation. Northern states, which had heavily invested in their still-nascent manufacturing, could not compete with the full-fledged industries of Europe in offering high prices for cotton imported from the South and low prices for manufactured exports in return. Thus, northern manufacturing interests supported tariffs and protectionism while southern planters demanded free trade."
go to your library and look up james mcpherson. he has written numerous books about the civil war. i've read a few and they are very informative and compelling. but any US history book of the last few decades will probably say the same thing.
Edited 4/10/2015 13:29:36