"Obviously, Mississippi and the other Southern states seceded and fought the Civil War to protect their 'peculiar institution' — as they plainly stated in their documents of secession. When South Carolina seceded, three weeks before Mississippi, its declaration focused on the North’s attacks on slavery and the 'election of a man to the high office of president of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.'
...Yet it should be almost equally obvious that the vast majority of those who fought on the Confederate side but owned no slaves were not fighting to defend slavery. Rather, they were duped by the planter aristocracy into fighting to protect the slave “property” of the rich.
Slaveholders riled the region’s less affluent whites by talk of a struggle to maintain their freedom from the federal government that, the planters told them, wanted to take away their liberty.
The slaveholders were able to persuade other white Southerners to fight, kill and die for a cause that was, in fact, against their own interests. Slavery worked against whites who owned no slaves. They had to compete with those who had this cheap source of labor. Protecting slavery also made the South hostile to other reforms, including industrialization, that could have benefited less affluent whites."
--Submitted by Pat Henson