See, as you both stated, it is about property and property rights, and the valuation and compensation (if deprived of the property) thereof. Slaves were the property involved, but it is not about slavery, per se, but the monetary value involved.
Slavery was dying in the south by the time of the civil war. It was becoming uneconomical, and wasn’t a real popular institution anywhere. If some sort of agreement had been able to be reached concerning some sort of compensation to relinquish slaves, I think it would have been a moot issue in less than 10 years. Lincoln actually looked into doing something like this, but was unable to get anywhere with it, as the abolitionists would have nothing to do with it; and the south was beyond listening to anything the north said at this point. (Remember that Lincoln was of the school of thought that wanted to remove all the blacks, just not slaves, back to Africa. He wasn’t the “great emanicipator” that is taught in schools.)
It is a LOT more complicated than a war over slavery. Education does this great struggle a grave injustice by simplifying it to the good north and the bad south. But, the winners get to write history... Moral is: don’t lose.
It was a very complicated argument, that got more complicated over thirty years or so. But in the end it was not about property rights as such, but over a particular sort of property right.
Simply put -
- The South was concerned about certain Constitutional property rights - constitutional as in explicitly called for in the Constitution; the second amendment was vague in comparison to the wording in Article IV
- The North refused (unconstitutionally) to honor these rights, arguing that they were intrinsically evil.
This conflict was THE cause of secession, and quite simply explains why the South fought. They fought for slaves.
The confusion arises over the reasons why the NORTH fought. The North didn’t fight to free the slaves, true. They fought, most simply put, because the South fought.
On other matters -
Unlike most other slave-owning countries, in the US slaves were broadly owned. In places like Brazil and the Caribbean slaves tended to be owned by a relatively small class of landowners. The end of slavery in the US was bound to be messier and more traumatic.
The argument proceeded during periods where the value of slaves waxed and waned. In 1860 slave values were in fact rather high and slaves were both widely owned and constituted a major portion of Southerners real property. This is a separate matter than whether slavery was an economically sound system. A threat to slavery was a broad-based bread and butter issue. Note that a general emancipation and relocation at government expense was out of the question by then (like James Monroe’s Liberia experiment) because slave values had risen so much.