One of my more attractive readers sounds emails:
I may be arguing out of ignorance here, so maybe you can set me straight if I'm wrong.
It seems to me that the people of the South had to know that slavery was wrong. That morally and ethically you should not own another human being. I realize that it was a very profitable enterprise, but after the war it didn't matter anyway. Would it have not made more sense to willingly abolish slavery? I believe that Lincoln's issue was with power, not slavery, but abolishing it would have made his reasoning for the war illegitimate. It would have saved thousands of lives (they killed their own family members for Pete's sake), and dollars in the long run. I don't know how far Lincoln's quest would have gone if he couldn't use slavery as his driving force.
You're looking at the past through today-colored glasses. But lets start at the begining. Did the Yankee traders who sold the slaves to southerners know that slavery was immoral? Every single slave boat sailed out of New York Harbor. Virtually every slave that came to America came here via New York City. The traders were without quesiton the worst of the worst. They didn't see blacks as humans at all. They saw them as sophisticated monkies. Darwin wrote a book to that effect.
Now, the folks in the South were around these folks every day. They grew to know them, and grew to respect them a great deal. 80% of the abolishonist organizations were based in the South and run by Southerners. The trouble is the differing viewpoints of how to solve the problem.
The yankees didn't know crap about the problem itself. They just thought, "Slavery bad. Must stop". They didn't care about the repercussions of ending a practice like that so suddenly. They didn't think at all. Which is typical of them then, and today. They didn't think about the fact that you'd be turning thousands of people loose into society who had no means of supporting themselves, and no way of even knowing how to go about it. They wouldn't care anyway. Wasn't their problem.
The Yankees looked down and saw a wounded leg. Southerners wanted to treat the leg and let it heal. The yankees didn't want to wait. They cut the leg off, and in typical yankee fashion, they then blamed the bleeding on everyone else.
Today it seems impossible to own a slave, and to really care about that slave as a human being. It was demonstrated that this was in fact the norm in the South. Slaves were taught to read and write. And think of this... If you saw something as an animal... Why would you teach that animal about Christ? Yet that is exactly what the Southrons did. One of the great shocks the Yankee soldiers had to come to grips with, was the fact that blacks were a moral race. The average yankee thought blacks were animals. That's what they were told to expect. This shock explains why so many slaves ended up raped when they turned down the yankee advances.
Slavery was dying in the South because of basic economics. Machines were doing the work cheaper and faster than men could, and it was cheaper to pay a man wages than it was to give him shelter and healthcare and food 24 hours per day.
When the newly "Freed" slaves went North they found they had to live in far worse conditions, and work far greater hours, and they weren't fed or cared for nearly as well.
In short, their standard of living dropped considerably. Ahhh... You were 18 hours a day and live in a shack with 20 other people. I live in a house with my family, and work 12 hours a day. You work in a factor... I work in a field. Who's more free?
As for abolishing slavery out-right... Virginia was the first state in the Union to out-law the slave trade. They did it well before the war. After the war, Jeff Davis is quoted as saying, "We should've freed them all before the war started." He meant it in terms of the PR battle though. The English wanted to side with us, but didn't want to be seen as supporting slavery, and they knew thats how it would be painted. Same with France, who agreed to break the yankee blockades, then backed out at the last minute. Pricks.
If we'd abolished slavery out-right it would've exposed Lincoln for the fraud he was and taken away the biggest propaganda tool in the history of the world.