One interesting sidebar that I have not often heard discussed is a "What If". I know that Historians do not like to deal with "What If's", but in scientific evaluation you sometime have to prove what is true, by eliminating what is not true.
What if either John Breckinridge or Steven Douglas been elected as President in 1860 would there have been a Civil War? Would South Carolina have Seceeded? Would there have been a Crisis at Fort Sumter?
Now if the reasonable answer to these questions were anything other than what occurred in history, where would that leave us in our determination of what really caused that war?