Before we can understand who was right in the Civil War and the effects that it has had on America today, we first need to understand what caused it. If you ask the average American today what caused the Civil War, he would tell you it was because the North wanted to free the slaves. But that is not true. The idea that the war was fought over slavery is the biggest misconception about it today. The war was fought over whether or not states had the right to secede. Lincoln wrote this during the war:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.1However, as we will see through the next few weeks, Lincoln frequently lied. He did have a chance to save the Union and preserve slavery, but he rejected it. But most of the Northern soldiers were fighting to preserve the Union, not to end slavery.
If you look deeper and examine the causes of secession, then you will find slavery played a big role in causing the Southern states to attempt to leave the Union. But even that it is not as clear cut as most make it out to be. There were also economic and religious reasons that went into the decision to leave the Union.
There were four main causes of succession and the war which do overlap at some points. We will look at these as a progression, not in order of importance. First there were economic reasons that caused the South to believe that the North was robbing them. Second there were religious differences because of Unitarianism. These religious differences caused the third disagreement which was slavery, and lastly there is the idea of state sovereignty. In the coming days we will examine each of these causes and who was right in each instance.