" It was on account of encroachments upon the institution of slavery by the sectional majority of the old Union, that South Carolina seceded from that Union. It is not at this late day, after the loss of thirty thousand of her best and bravest men in battle, that she will suffer it to be bartered away; or ground between the upper and nether mill stones, by the madness of Congress, or the counsels of shallow men elsewhere. "
Now I realize this is only just one editorial, but I think you know it is fairly typical of the language in the press, on the streets, and in the congress. It is certainly reflective of their own understandings of the issues of their own times, as seen by the politicians and newpapers of that time and place. This fellow was not talking to a minority. He says without question that slavery was THE central issue of this bitter contention. Now, if anyone can show me where his readers wrote in and proclaimed, "what are you talking about, this war is over the tariffs?" I really think we need to take what he says seriously.
And when you join it with the rejection of the "draft, arm and emancipate" issue, that prompted this same editorial, you must give his thought very heavy weight indeed. This argument won the day. The CSA congress almost completely rejected Lee and clearly leaned much more heavily toward this editorialst's sentiment.
Notice also the final description, calling men who have propsed or support this legislation under discussion. After all the vile names he called supporters of the notion of arming slaves, which I quoted to you elsewhere, his last barb seems tame. But since it was Lee himself who was the instigator of the bill and who was actively trying to garner support for this plan, this last remark about "shallow men" seems to me, pointed directly at Lee himself.