This is really rather simple to answer, if you think about it. All the respondents to Loewen’s article were correct, no matter their view. Yes, but also wrong.
There was not “one thing” that caused the war. Even at its most simple, there were two direct causes:
• for the North, it was the secession of the Southern States;
• for the South, it was merely the invasion of the North – they had every right to protect their homes from invasion.
Loewen used a chain of causality argument in his article. Thus cause X came about because of pre-existing condition Y. Unfortunately, he is so stuck on what he considers to be the right answer that he stops his chain of causality in every argument at slavery.
Many respondents reiterated Loewen’s argument that the South seceded for states’ rights – “yeah, their right to own slaves” – but that does not stand if you apply the chain of causality method properly.
Let’s look at the chain of causality a little deeper.
There was still slavery in the North, several states where it was still legal. But the difference there was that the whole of their economy did not hinge on the practice. In the South, it was a completely different story. A majority of the large plantation owners used slaves to keep their economy going.
Getting rid of the slaves in the North might cause hardship for the few who actually depended on such but for the South it would have meant complete and total economic collapse.
So, the chain of causality has progressed from slavery. The root cause of requiring continuance of the practice was economic, staving off financial ruin.
And, of course, there is one further step in the chain: what lay behind their drive for a continuation of this economy? That would be greed. The plantation owners liked the perks of their lifestyles and refused to give it up.
Likewise, the North simply wanted the wealth of the South. They were motivated by their own greed.
Good, old-fashioned greed. And you know what? That has pretty much been the cause of every war since the beginnings of human history.
What else is new?