Always fascinated that the Confederacy commits treason and starts the war, putting the tools the Abolishionists needed in Lincoln’s hands.
Lincoln himself seemed to recognize that the Emancipation Proclamation was of dubious legality outside of his war powers (and thus lobbied HARD for the 13th Amendment):
“You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional – I think differently. I think the constitution invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is there – has there ever been – any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it, helps us, or hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies’ property when they can not use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves, or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes, and non-combatants, male and female.”
If the Secessionists don’t fire the first shots and start the war, things have to unfold differently.
Surely the Southern leadership recognized that the North would eventually be able to overwhelm them electorally, but that most definitely was not in the 1860’s. We could get well into the 1900’s before they would be able to get to a 2/3’s majority by which time they could see that even outside of it’ barbarism, slavery is an outmoded and archaic concept in the industrialized world.