The key to understanding how Lincoln kept the nation together after his election is by examining two aspects of his presidency during that time. First, Lincoln's rhetoric during the war remained consistent in the fact that, above all else, the Union should remain intact. Northern abolitionists were calling for Southern blood, while Southern confederates demanded Lincoln gone. It is imperative to give appreciation to Lincoln's behavior, as he aimed to placate both sides. He acknowledged the evils of slavery but reassured the South by stating that his focus was to save the Union and not to necessarily destroy slavery:
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
—Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, 1862
Another critical element to consider is the way he crafted the Emancipation Proclamation. Obviously from the quote above, in a letter written to Horace Greeley, abolitionists in the North were upset by the way Lincoln seemed to take a light approach toward slavery in the South. However, the Emancipation Proclamation eased that crowd's minds when it freed slaves in the rebellious states. Moreover, Lincoln was strategic in not freeing the slaves in the border states, out of the fear that they would join the confederacy. Once again, the rhetoric of Lincoln and the determination to preserve the Union allowed the nation to stay together in its darkest of times.