Lincoln, great guy, but not an abolitionist
It was assumed by many that he was an advocate of freeing the slaves, as he was a republican (yes he was) and many of his political enemies made him out to be an abolitionist. However, in his Inaugural Address, he stated: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institutions of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so".
Many historians believe that Lincoln did not actually care whether slavery was ended or not, or if he presided over a country where all men are equal, but that he used this as a façade for public and political purposes. This view can be supported by many of Lincoln's statements, such as:
"I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about...the social and political equality of the white and black races...I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people...And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race".
Some historians believe that, although Lincoln did not view the abolishment of slavery as a means of creating a nation in which all men are equal, he may have seen it as the means by which he could save the Union.