Thank You for your interest in my opinion and your kind invitation. However, as you can see from the delay of my reply to your request, which I apoligize for, I feel that a lenghty exchange of correspondence would not be practical.
My opinion on secession being "the cause" stems from a simple objective examination of Lincoln's election as President in 1860. I really don't belive that it had anything really to do with a power struggle between the democrat and republican parties, althouth it would appear that why to most observers, as it did simply the politics of determining the nature of public opinion in the northern states and capitalizing upon that.
The simple question to be asked is, 'How did Lincoln win the election of 1860'?
Lincoln, an ex-congressman from Illnois, was a relative political unknown, outside of Illinois, going up against two well known national political figures, Ex-Vice President John Breckenridge and Senator Steven Douglas. The popular opinion is that Breckenridge and Douglas split the Democrat vote in the Northern states and allowed Lincoln to capture the presidency by winning the larger portion of a vote split 3 ways. This is incorrect. In examining the vote totals Lincoln recieved over 50% of the total vote in almost every State where he was on the ballot against Breckenridge and Douglas. So it would not have mattered if it had only been a head to head battle between either Lincoln and Breckenridge, or Lincoln and Douglas, Lincoln would have won against either of them individually.
Even had the southern states been united behind one of the two or three democrat candidates they still would not have mustered the necessary electorial college votes to have won the election. So the election was not over personalities, but over party politics.
Why was the republican party so popular in the Northern states?
Since elections where not so much a cult of personalities then, as they are today with the advent of T.V. the elections of that day were centered around party politics than the individuals involved. Certainly Breckenridge and Douglas' positions were well known and where framed by that of the Democrat party, and that they favored the Status Quo. And that the Southern Democrat favored secession IF the abolishionist pressed their demands for anti-constitutaional action.
Lincoln's position, on the other hand, on slavery was much the same as Douglas, as stated in the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates, and Lincoln's speeches of the time, prior to 1862. So the stances on slavery between the three candidates was not a deciding factor. And while the republican party was stronger on manumission and emancipation than was the Democrat party, harboring the abolishionist movement as it did, that issue alone was not strong enough, even within the "New" republican party, to carry the election on it own merits alone. Lincoln, even within the republican party, was a moderate "middle-of-the-road" candidate. And in his speeches promise to keep the Union together while not promising to free the slave.
Lincoln stated that if he could keep the Union Together by freeing the slaves, he would do it, if he could do that by keeping the slaves in bondage he would do that, and if he could accomplish the same by keeping some slaves in bondage while freeing others he would do that also. Clearly not an anti-slavery stance, but a strong pro-union stance.
Mainatining "National Unity" was an issue, which was of serious concern to the Northern states. The Republican party favored maintaining the "National Unity". While the Southern Democrats, particulary South Carolina, threaten secession from that National Union should the republican candidate win, because of the abolisonist movement.
Now you can twist that around and say that it was the abolishion of slavery that caused the war. Because the republican party was the party of choice of the radical abolishionist. And the rancor cause by their anti-constitutional retoric, was the reason that Southern democrat threaten secession. But, that is being somewhat intellectually dishonest, because the issue of slavery just was not a strong enough "national concern" that men would die for it in the coming American Civil War, even within the republican partys own base. And certainly not enough to have given Lincoln the election by over 50% of the northern voters.
To me that is the only two issues which were of importance enough for men to have give their life blood for. National Unity vs Self Determination. And that was the importance, and the issues, of the election of 1860. That is the saddness of the American Civil War is that BOTH of those position were larger HONORABLE overiding national concepts, over and above the limited idea of whether or not a group of people should be held in slavery or be set free..
That is just my perspective.