"In the War Between the States, Southerners believed that they were fighting to defend the government as it was laid down at Philadelphia in 1787 and as recognized by various state ordinances of ratification.
This was a government of restricted power, commissioned to do certain things which the states could not do for themselves, but strictly defined as to its authority."
As long as each state was viewed as a sovereign entity, "the maximum amount of self-determination by the states" preserved, and states' rights rigorously upheld, any drift towards despotism was automatically nipped in the bud.
That, was ultimately the issue over which the South went to war since it held that the North… "was rebelling against this idea which had been accepted by the members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Or to put it another way, the North was staging a revolution, the purpose of which was to do away with this older concept of the American government." Richard M. Weaver
The South rejected this revolution and sought to defend what it insisted were its God-given rights. When the War Between the States is seen in these terms, the issue of slavery, firmly fixed in the minds of so many Americans as the true cause of the war, is understood rather to be merely the catchword of the War Party in the North, and a shallow excuse to wage war and impose a social revolution.