What caused the Civil War, or, as some letter writers prefer, the War Between the States? Certainly secession was the immediate cause. But what caused secession? Could it have been slavery? The evidence strongly supports that conclusion.
When South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas seceded, each wrote a Declaration of Causes, not unlike the Declaration of Independence, that listed grievances. Mississippi, home state of Confederacy president Jefferson Davis, gets straight to the point: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world ... a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."
South Carolina historian David Duncan Wallace states on page 527 of "South Carolina, A Short History": "It is hardly conceivable that secession would have occurred if slavery had not existed."
And in "The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina," co-authored by professor emeritus and Beaufortonian Larry Rowland, we find on page 425 the statement, "When the secession crisis arrived, the Beaufort planters put aside social resentments and personal rivalries and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of slavery and their way of life ... ."
Finally, we have these lines from Lincoln's second inaugural address, referring to the time when the Civil War began: "One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."