The southern States threatened to secede many times before over high import duties, which benefited the northern merchants and manufacturers at the expense of the agrarian south. The south was deeply in debt to England for the purchase of slaves. That debt could be mitigated by purchasing manufactured goods from England rather than pay the high prices for poorer quality goods manufactured in the northern States. (See The Democratization of America regarding the inability of American businesses to attract skilled labor from Europe, which led to automation in the U.S.A.) . High duties forced southern farmers to buy from northern merchants.
To further infuriate its southern constituents, federal government surpluses were largely spent on northern infrastructure improvements.
According to Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution for the united States of America:
"The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."
If the northern States could sometimes increase import duties over the objections of the Southern States, then they should also have had the power to tax slavery out of existence throughout the nation prior to 1808, and prohibited slavery after 1808. Unfortunately, some northern States were pro-slavery or ambivalent about it. Unfortunately, the unconstitutional acquisition of land from France and Spain led to a Free/Slave State competition for Congressional dominance over the slavery and import duty issues (duties on slaves and manufactured goods).
While slavery was certainly an issue, and may have been the proverbial "straw", it clearly was not the primary cause of the Civil War.
When import duties again became unbearable in the late 1850's, the southern States once again threatened to secede. This time they threatened to declare all their ports duty free, which would have destroyed the ports of New York and Boston if they did not follow suit.
Rather than advocating the reduction of import duties to avoid secession, Abraham Lincoln declared he would collect the import duties from the southern States even if they seceded. That is why Ft. Sumter was targeted by the South. It was not a State. It was a federal facility that enforced duties on the Port of Charleston.
Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia (Infopedia):
"After it became clear that Abraham Lincoln had won the presidential election of 1860, South Carolina passed an order of secession on December 20. Six days later Maj. Robert Anderson, commander of the Union forces at Charleston, moved his small garrison from Fort Moultrie, also in the Charleston Harbor, to the unfinished, ungarrisoned Fort Sumter, farther from shore and less vulnerable to land attack. Gov. Francis Pickens (1805-69) of South Carolina demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter; Anderson refused. On Jan. 9, 1861, the Union merchant vessel Star of the West attempted to land supplies and reinforcements, but was fired on and withdrew.
"By the time Lincoln took office on March 4, six more states had seceded, and Fort Sumter was one of the two Southern forts remaining under Union control. Lincoln was faced with either recalling Anderson or risking war by providing him with supplies and reinforcements. After much agonizing, Lincoln notified Pickens on April 8 that an attempt would be made to send provisions, but no troops or ammunition, to Fort Sumter, then in danger of being starved out. Three days later Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard, under orders from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, demanded evacuation of the fort. Anderson stated that he would evacuate only if he received neither provisions nor instructions from the federal government by noon on April 15. This answer proved unsatisfactory, and at 4:30 am on April 12, Fort Johnson in Charleston fired the first shot of a 34-hour bombardment, ending all negotiations and marking the beginning of the Civil War. Lincoln's relieving fleet arrived the same day but could not enter the harbor because of cannon fire from the shore. Anderson surrendered the fort on April 14; neither side suffered any casualties. The following day the U.S. declared war on the Confederacy."
"Without congressional authorization, Lincoln increased the armed forces beyond the limits established by law, expended millions of dollars for which no appropriations had been made, emancipated the slaves in the rebellious, southern states, established the political basis for the reconstruction of those states by presidential proclamation, and suspended the right of habeas corpus. He justified many of his actions as a legitimate exercise of his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and declared that he was motivated by the necessity of preserving the Constitution he had sworn to uphold. He said: "I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution through the preservation of the nation." Following Lincoln's assassination, Andrew Johnson attempted to continue presidential leadership over Congress but was defeated and impeached, although not removed from office."
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