TO THE EDITOR:
Brenda Rochelle (Letter to the Editor, May 10, 2019) believes that the American Civil War was fought over state's rights and not over slavery. A question you have to ask yourself is, "Why was state's rights an issue?" In a word, slavery.
Anyone who doesn't believe that the American Civil War was fought to keep the institution of slavery alive need only to look at the Confederate States of America Constitution. Article 1, Section 9 (4) states that "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed." Article IV Section 2 states "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired." Article IV Section 3, Clause 3 states that any new territory obtained by the Confederate States shall be recognized as slave holding states.
I don't doubt that your uncles and great grandfather didn't own any slaves. But slavery had been an issue since before the country was founded. Many fought in the war who stood to gain nothing from slavery. The American Civil War was probably one of the worst-case examples of "a poor man fighting a rich man's war". The plantation owners who financed the Confederacy stood to gain the most by separating from the Union. Lincoln and the Republican Party's platform of 1860 was to keep slavery where it existed but spread no further. But the Southern states saw this as a slippery slope toward abolition. The firing on Fort Sumter touched off an awful war that tore the country apart but ultimately brought it whole again.
State's rights were an issue no doubt. However, it all came down to the "peculiar institution of slavery" and whether one man had the right to enslave another man. Over half a million men died to answer that question.