I am yet another student of that historical period who sees the integral cause as racial, not money or states' rights. Yes, most wars have ties to money and rights. But no nation fights a long, bloody war over money. Think about it. The poorer entity would quickly lose. Cartels and gangsters go to battle over money.
It is a huge mistake to believe that the Civil War was not fomented by slavery. The Founding Fathers actually tabled the issue of slavery to keep the Constitutional Convention from collapsing, so eager were they to have all states sign the Constitution.
Furthermore, in their private writings, Washington, Jefferson and Adams despaired that their efforts to create a democratic nation might not last even 100 years due to the evil of slavery, a contradiction to the principles they were establishing. At that point they hoped for a miracle -- perhaps an Abraham Lincoln.
Eugene Robinson was right, in my educated opinion, that this nation could never have succeeded as a purveyor of slavery. While slaves were essential to the South's economy (money?), far too many citizens, in both South and North, harbored deep-seated loathing for slavery -- owning other human beings. I myself would have fought for this principle.
How can Mr. Loper say, "President Lincoln was not that concerned about slavery"? History does not support that statement. Americans should know that a deal-breaker (slavery) was challenged and abrogated, demonstrating our capability to self-correct. Jefferson wrote, "We can tolerate error in judgment as long as we have the freedom to choose our path."