Why did the southern states want to leave the Union? And why did the northern states refuse to let them go? Just because slavery is the answer to the first, it does not necessarily follow that it answers the second. These two questions are often conflated because so many Americans approach the Civil War with an implicit and unchallenged prejudice in favor of national unity.
Yet secession and war are distinct issues. For secession to lead to war, northerners had to be determined to hold the Union together with violence. And scholarly research has demonstrated that slavery had very little, if anything, to do with that determination, either on the part of President Abraham Lincoln or of the northern public generally.-The Question of Slavery
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