Add to this the fact that of about $261 million in U.S. exports in 1860, the South was responsible for about $214 million vs. about $47 million from the North. Since the South had to pay the retaliatory tariffs at foreign ports of entry, they were experiencing a double whammy. There were other unfairly levied taxes as well. And with the North ruling in Congress, the tariffs were being increased. Abraham Lincoln raised the tariff to 40% by the beginning of the war and almost 50% by the war's end. The federal government was also heavily subsidizing northern industries and westward expansion which the South knew would lead to more and higher tariffs. Remember, there was NO income tax at the time and the bulk of government revenue was coming from the tariffs which, as Adams shows, were economically raping the Southern states primarily for the benefit of the North.
Still not convinced that tariffs played a major role? Read some of the articles and editorials from the newspapers of the time. Primary sources from the time always give a more accurate picture than later articles and historians worth their salt focus on them.
On December 10, 1860 the Chicago Daily Times warned of the economic impact of Southern secession:
In one single blow our [Northern] foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue [a small tariff] and these results would likely follow.The day after South Carolina seceded the Philadelphia Press wrote:
The government cannot well avoid collecting the federal revenues at all Southern ports, even after the passage of secession ordinances; and if this duty is discharged, any State which assumes a rebellious attitude will still be obliged to contribute revenue to support the Federal Government or have her foreign commerce entirely destroyed.When some of the Southern states declared slavery among the compelling issues leading to secession, the North American Review in Boston wrote:
Slavery is not the cause of the rebellion...Slavery is the pretext on which the leaders of the rebellion rely 'to fire the Southern heart,' and through which the greatest degree of unanimity can be produced...Mr. Calhoun, after finding that the South could not be brought to sufficient unanimity by a clamor about the tariff, selected slavery as the better subject for agitation.Southern papers too identified economic issues as the major bone of contention. The New Orleans Daily Crescent wrote in January 1861:
They (the South) know that it is their import trade that draws from the people's pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interests. These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the Union. They (the North) are enraged at the prospect of being despoiled of the rich feast upon which they have so long fed and fattened, and which they were just getting ready to enjoy with still greater gout and gusto. They are as mad as hornets because the prize slips them just as they are ready to grasp it.Texas Congressman John H. Reagan said this on January 15, 1861:
You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you on account of the balance of exchange which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers of northern capitalists. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institution.Lincoln himself, a man who had little interest in slavery, who publicly stated his main concern was keeping the Union together, made his motivation clear. When a Virginia delegation met with him the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, urging patience and the evacuation of Northern troops from the Fort in order to prevent war, assuring him that in time the Union would be preserved, his response was telling:
If I do that what will become of my [tariff] revenue? I might as well shut up housekeeping at once.Robert L. Dabney, a Presbyterian minister, Confederate chaplain, and later biographer of Stonewall Jackson, wrote of Lincoln:
He was shrewd enough to see that the just and liberal free trade policy proposed by the Montgomery (first Confederate) government would speedily build up, by the help of the magnificent Southern staples, a beneficent foreign commerce through Confederate ports; that the Northern people...could never be restrained from smuggling across the long open frontier of the Confederacy; that thus the whole country would become habituated to the benefits of free trade, so that when the schism was healed (as he knew it would be healed in a few years by the policy of Virginia), it would be too late to restore the iniquitous system of sectional plunder by tariffs, which his section so much craved. Hence when Virginia offered him a safe way to preserve the Union, he preferred to destroy the Union and preserve his tariffs. The war was conceived in duplicity, and brought forth in iniquity.In March 1861 Congress passed the Morrill Tariff taxing most foreign goods an average of 40% on the dollar, iron goods at over 50%. If the South was allowed to leave the Union and practice free trade the North faced an economic catastrophe. As August Belmont, Northern financier, diplomat, horse breeder and racer (The Belmont Stakes is named for him) wrote after South Carolina seceded, it was "now a question of national existence and commercial prosperity."
In other words, the South must be forced to remain in the Union so the North could continue its economic rape. Slavery was never a major issue with Northern capitalists and their politicians; it was always about the money! And for the South it was primarily about free trade and the same issues that led the thirteen colonies to declare independence from England -- unfair taxation.