Let me make it very clear: slavery was evil. It should have died (and, left alone, would have, as it grew too expensive).
But Lincoln was neither saint nor hero. He abused his power, trashed the Constitution, was probably the first mascot of the Imperial Federal Government, and even his greatest good--ending slavery--was motivated not by a love of justice but as a political jab.
Lincoln often said that he would, above all, preserve the Union--even if it meant freeing no slaves. He was concerned not with slavery but with a challenge to the power of the Omnipotent Government.
Let's drop the misnomer. There was no "American Civil War." America was set up as a partnership between states, with a central government not to overrule the states but to facilitate international relations by maintaining a military and negotiating trade agreements. Several states chose to withdraw from the partnership and form a separate country. It would have been entirely possible for the USA and CSA to exist, side-by-side, peaceably. Even mortal enemies like North and South Korea have this arrangement, and there was no mortal disagreement between the US and CS systems of government. But the US, led by Emperor Lincoln, decided that that wasn't good enough. So they waged, not a civil war, but a war of conquest against an independent nation. The reason, as evidenced by Lincoln's expressed reluctance to free the slaves, was not to end the evil of slavery but to punish the southern states for daring to think that the federal government was not lord over them.
Liberals have said for years the George Bush is just like Hitler (calling him Bushitler to save words), and that he's done more to destroy freedom than any president before. Really? Lincoln actively suppressed newspapers, shutting down papers that refused to print the government version of events. He also suspended habeas corpus. The outrage over Bush holding enemy combatants in Guantanamo without charges (aside from being enemy combatants, which is its own charge)? Lincoln not only imprisoned enemy soldiers without charging them, he imprisoned without charge any US citizen who dared express disagreement. Is that the champion of freedom we've been taught to believe in?
And the Emancipation Proclamation? Sure, it's got a nice catchy title, and when your knowledge of it is limited by government schools to one line ("It freed the slaves") you think it's a good thing. Ready for the shocker? It freed no slaves. Not one.
See, it's worded to apply only to the "states currently in rebellion" (which shows you what Lincoln thought of the power of the Mighty Fed). Well, those states had become a separate country. The executive orders of the US president have no legal effect whatsoever on the independent nation of the CSA.
The "Emancipation Proclamation" was a cold, calculated political move. It applies only to the CSA, so slave states in the US like Maryland weren't hurt. When word spread to the CSA, it was intended to motivate the slaves to take their freedom and leave that nation. That was motivated not by Lincoln's altruism but by his desire to utterly destroy the CSA's labor force, thus forcing more able-bodied men to work in production and not fight on the front lines.
Lincoln was not a savior of this nation. He marked the beginning of the end of limited government and personal freedom. While undoubtedly slavery was a great evil, ending it was incidental to Lincoln's goal of utterly crushing anyone who dared say "no" to the Omnipotent Imperial Federal Government. The war of aggression against the CSA was unjustifiable, and Lincoln should be remembered not as the martyr who granted freedom to the slaves but as the first, and most influential, destroyer of liberty in America.