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In 1780, the abolitionist movement began in England, and carried over into the US. Members formed the Underground Railroad to help slaves who escaped captivity. Legislation was passed in 1850 to ban the slave trade within the United States. In disgust of the northern states expansion of the federal government and their disregard for the Tenth Amendment (which gave states sovereignty from the federal government), the southern states decided to withdrawal from the union. In 1861 the Civil War began. After losing many battles and soldiers, Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation to Free the slaves in the southern states. This hurt the economics of the southern states; the free labor that was helping the south gain it's independence from the US was released and had to be compensated for their work. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves to use economic warfare to prevent the southern states from winning their independence. hope that helped :) http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Lincoln_free_the_slaves