What the Hell *WAS* the Cause of the Civil War?
I don't want to differ with Coates, who is clearly my better in this matter, but I was doing some research about a year ago, and ended up reading transcripts of a lot of letters written by New England Union soldiers and their families. Having been raised in MI, I was basically under the impression that the Civil War was about abolishing slavery, and that whole "state's rights" line was Revisionist white-supremacist hogwash. So, I was surprised to see in those letters basically the same debate you see today: Plenty of contemporary Union soldiers and citizens argued that the war was over sovereignty and state's rights vs. federal stability, and plenty of their wives and brothers and husbands and pals shot back that they were being idiots, and the war was clearly over the fate of American slaves (and whether or not the bondage of those men, women, and children was worth the blood of their friends and neighbors).
All of which is to say: It seems a little absurd to expect us, as a nation 145 years removed from the blood and sweat and shouts and murmurs of the moment, to agree on what that war was *really* about, seeing as how the men (and a few ladies) who pulled the triggers at the time couldn't seem to agree what they were fighting over.