As president, Abraham Lincoln had to save the nation from total division. He needed to save the union, and at the same time, satisfy the states needs and demands. With either side refusing to budge, the almost desperate Lincoln had no other choice than to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Although it did not take into effect immediately, it did encourage the freedom of the slaves and encouraged the enlistment of blacks into the Northern army. It was the 13th Amendment, however, that did free the slaves.
As early as 1849, Abraham Lincoln believed that slaves should be emancipated, advocating a program in which they would be freed gradually. Early in his presidency, still convinced that gradual emancipation was the best course, he tried to win over legislators. To gain support, he proposed that slave owners be compensated for giving up their property (slaves).This was not a favored idea.
In the early part of the Civil War, President Lincoln refrained from issuing an edict freeing the slaves despite the insistent urgings of abolitionists. Believing that the war was being fought solely to preserve the Union. He sought to avoid upsetting the slaveholding border states that had remained in the Union. 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 do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. Lincoln wrote these words as his desire to preserve the Union.
Finally, after the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam , Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The preliminary Proclamation announced that slaves in rebel states not under Union control would become free on January 1, 1863. Lincoln thus gave the Southern states one last chance to end the war before losing their slaves. When the deadline came and the Confederates had made no effort to comply with the Proclamation, President Lincoln signed it into law on the afternoon of January 1,1863. When the President signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he said "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper". He then added " If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act".
Lincoln had no other choice than to issue this proclamation. Neither side seemed like they were willing to compromise. So, acting upon his wish to save the union, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The entire war was based upon the desire to preserve the Union, and not slavery.