The Civil War had very little to do with abolitionists. It was much
more about the South?s secession.
Throughout the early 19th century, the South had the nagging feeling
that the Federal government was against them. High taxes hurt their
livelihoods (particularly the Tariff of Abominations, which taxed
imports from foreign countries; the South was buying most of it?s
goods from Europe, because this was cheaper than buying Northern
Restrictions had been put on slavery?-an institution the South felt
was essential if they were going to feed their families. This is
difficult for modern minds to understand, but the "Declaration of the
Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State
of Mississippi from the Federal Union" gives the Southern perspective:
?Our...products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical
regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race
can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become
necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce
(American Civil War Portal:
The last straw was when Lincoln was elected into office. The South
felt he was a serious threat and would end slavery. From their point
of view, their rights were seriously being trampled on; they no longer
mattered to the Federal government; Lincoln was probably going to end
slavery and therefore ruin the Southern economy; the Federal
government was acting as their enemy; the Federal government no longer
protected the South, it threatened it; the Federal government seemed
intent on destroying Southern life and liberty. And the only way the
South knew to re-assert those rights was to secede.
The Declaration of Independence states: ?Whenever any form of
government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the
own people to alter or abolish it.? This is exactly what the South
felt they were doing.
So why didn?t the North just allow the South to have their own way?
Well, they felt the South had no right to secede and form the
Confederate States of America. They pointed to Article 6, section 3 of
the Constitution, where it says "the states shall be bound by oath or
affirmation to support this Constitution." In other words, the North
said, by agreeing to be part of the U.S., the South had vowed to be
part of it forever.
In addition, Article 1, section 10 of the Constitution says "No state
shall, without the consent of Congress, keep troops, or ships of war
in times of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another
state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war unless actually
invaded, or in such imminent danger." But the South *was* keeping
troops. Worse, they attacked Fort Sumter--an act of war against the
Also, the North argued, Lincoln wasn?t going to end slavery. That was
just paranoia on the part of the South.
Given these legal arguments, and given the fact that the South had, in
essence, made an act of war against the Federal government, the North
generally agreed that a response must be made.
And the Civil War began.
For more on this subject, I recommend the following sources:
?Causes of the Civil War? http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/why.html
?Southern Secession is Illegal!?
? Secession of the Southern States?
?The Tariff of Abominations?