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Initially, the Civil War wasn't about slavery; it was about states rights. Slavery didn't enter into the equation until the end of the war, when Lincoln made his Emancipation Proclamation, which did technically free the slaves--sort of.
However, racism was still embedded deeply in american culture, and one war couldn't possibly change peoples minds about slavery, a practice that had been around for hundreds of years and was an important part of the southern economy. So while the slaves were 'free', and were now able to get off the plantations and make lives for themselves, the whites didn't want that. Think of all the jobs they'd be losing, all the new competition. Not to mention, most of the slaves were uneducated, and society had always seen blacks as a lower race not able to compete intellectually with the whites (just a misconception back then.). So when blacks got away from their old lives of slavery and settled down, even up north, they were still on the bottom of the social hierarchy, but were technically "free". They just weren't free in the sense that everyone viewed them as equal to the white man.
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by Lincoln which freed all slaves in the Confederate States. There is some doubt as to Lincoln’s authority to issue such an order. In theory, as the military Commander in Chief, Lincoln could suspend civil law in rebellious states. However, Lincoln used the Proclamation in an effort to leverage Confederate states to return to the Union. Using the Proclamation as a threat is an unanswered legal issue as it was never tested in court.
In reality, the Emancipation Proclamation did very little. It did not make slavery illegal, didn’t apply to those slave-holding states that did not secede, and did not confer citizenship on the newly freed slaves. Lacking citizenship meant the freed slaves had no rights: the could not buy, hold or sell property, vote, sign any legal document, or have freedom of movement. By not extending citizenship to the freed slaves, Lincoln made them legally non-entities.
The above is factual. What follows is my opinion and only that!
The Proclamation did change the terms of the Civil War. Nearly every civilization or nation since Sumeria onwards has had a North – South war: the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, French, English, Germans, Irish, Bolivians, Spanish, etc. all experienced at least one such war. None were about slavery. Though why this North – South split occurs is often discussed, nobody has been able to explain it.
Other than adding slavery to the issues at stake in the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation did nothing but throw more fuel on the fire.
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