Abraham Lincoln did indeed have very complicated views on slavery and race, but the fact that Haney charges he did not want to make slavery an issue at all, and did it only to keep the British out of the war. This is simply untrue.
In James McPhereson?s much acclaimed book Battle Cry of Freedom, it is plainly shown that Lincoln was absolutely against slavery. On page 54-55, McPhereson states, ?Free soil sentiment in 1847 can be visualized in three concentric circles. At the center was a core of abolitionists who considered slavery a sinful violation of human rights that should be immediately expiated. Surrounding and drawing ideological nourishment from them was a larger group of antislavery people who looked upon bondage as an evil-by which they meant that it was socially repressive, economically backward, and politically harmful to the interests of the free states.
This circle was comprised mainly of Whigs (and some Democrats) from the Yankee belt of states and regions north of the 41st parallel who regarded this issue as more important than any other in American politics. The outer circle contained all those who had voted for the Wilmot Proviso but did not necessarily consider it the most crucial matter facing the country and were open to compromise. This outer circle included such Whigs as Abraham Lincoln, who believed that slavery was, ?an unqualified evil to the negro, the white man, and the State, which deprives our Republican example of its just influences in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites?
He also claims in this section that Lincoln thought abolition was to over the top, as it was so fiercesome and uncompromising that it united the South in support of the institution.
On pages 127-129, Lincoln also states his opposition to slavery again in his debates with Douglas in discussion of the Kansas- Nebraska act. ?The founding fathers, Lincoln said, had opposed slavery. They adopted a Declaration of Independence that pronounced all men created equal.? He went on to say that, ?There can be no moral right in the enslaving of one man by another?. Lincoln understood why the South would fight for it (as do I); it was the institution that they had become accustomed too, and just as the blacks were being born into slavery, the white southerner (or rich white southerner, as most southerners did not own slaves), were being born into this ?peculiar institution?, just on the other side. When they were raised with it since birth, it is easy to see that they would fail to see the wrong in it.
However, he did say blatantly that, ?If all Earthly power were given to me?my first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia. But a moment?s reflection convinced him of the impossibility of this. ?What then, free them and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition??What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially equals? Even if Lincoln?s own feelings would accept this, ?we all know that those of the great mass of white people will not?A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded? (McPhereson, 128).
He later goes onto say, in another debate with Douglas, that the popular sovereignty policy was abominable, especially when it was claimed that it affected the people only in the affected area. ?I cannot but hate this declared indifference, but, as I must think covert, real zeal for the spread of?the monstrous injustice of slavery.? (McPhereson, 128),
At this point, Lincoln was still a year away from becoming a Republican. However, ?his great affirmation of moral opposition to slavery, his belief that the national government had a right and duty to exclude it from the territories, and his conviction that this cancer must be eventually cut out, became hallmarks of the Republican party (McPhereson, 129).
Also, there were reasons for your other charges against him. The Eastern Theater was the most important theater, as far as Washington was concerned. The western theater, of course, would prove equally, if not more important, but with the main army of the Confederacy only between 30 to 100 miles away from the capital, it took precedence in both Washington and the nation?s, if not the world?s consciousness.
As soon as the war broke out, the Union had defeat after defeat. McDowell suffered a defeat at Bull Run on July 21, 1861. McClellan then took over the Union army, and started with the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 62?, which he promptly bungled. After the wounding of General Johnston, General Lee took over, and it was lights out from there. There was the Seven Day?s campaign and then Second Manassas, both huge victories for the Confederacy. If Lincoln intended to free the slaves, he could not do it on the heels of such crushing defeats as these battles were, as it would have had little importance. So after Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history, was considered a Northern strategic victory, Lincoln let the Emancipation Proclamation fly. Without a victory, it would have been seen as a cry from a wolf that had no teeth. The ?victory? at Antietam gave Lincoln a leg to stand on.
As for why he only freed the slaves in the South, and not in the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, simply said, he did not want to piss them off. Freeing the states already in rebellion could do nothing to hurt him; freeing the slaves in the border states could have tremendous impact on the war. If this angered them, it could send them out of the Union. Chiefly, this meant that if Maryland seceded formally, Washington D.C. would be surrounded in rebelling states. Therefore, the war effort could become severely hampered, if not destroyed completely, if the border states left. Lincoln did not want to piss them off. However, the Border States must have realized that by freeing the slaves in south, it was sounding the death knell of slavery in their own states as well.