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[–] Ulluses 0 points 1 point (+1|-0) ago 

The civil war was fought over states rights. Specifically a state's right to have slaves. While other rights were also discussed at the time slaves was the hot topic of the time and the one that most people considered the primary issue with only merchants and tax collectors considering the other rights of the state.

So it was a debate: one side wanted nobody to have slaves because it distorted elections and a few people actually wanted to end it out of moral concerns, and the other side needed slaves to keep their standard of living and thus really wanted slavery. The whole "Some states can have them and some can't" had done the country just fine until the populations of different places changed and borders expanded.

So you have a war, which is really good at making a "them" vs "them" mentality where the heroic Union forces fought the evil Confederacy until overcoming them and winning the war through saintly glory. This is of course a fantasy. The Confederacy wanted to keep slaves because it gave the rich voting people riches and more powerful voting. The Union wanted to get rid of slavery because having a bunch of slave owners with more votes than anyone one else was pissing them off. Like I said there was some "Maybe we should all just be equal as humans." stuff going on but it was marginal at best at the start of the war.

As the war went on and the Union started to win, mostly because the Confederate army had awful generals and poorly equipped troops due to the lack of manufacturing in the south, the narrative came into sharp relief. The confederates were slave driving bastards and the union fighters wanted to keep the USA united as brothers. Stupid, but it made a good marketing campaign during the election.

Lincoln freeing the slaves wasn't really done out of kindness either, he had a ton of slaves running away from their masters to join the Union fighters. These were called "Contrabands" as they were still technically a good at this stage, and Lincoln by law had to return them back to their masters, even in a time of war. He didn't want to get rid of a ton of free troops and piss off the growing number of anti-slavery groups during a war, so he said that all slaves outside of Union lands were free.

This might seem odd, it still leaves some slaves in the north and he doesn't actually have the authority to free the slaves in the south, because of the Confederacy kind of having that jurisdiction right now. But in doing so any southern slave who made it to the north was technically a free man once they made it into Lincoln's jurisdiction, also a load of slaves from the north just pretended to be from the south and were freed by anti-slavery groups in the northern cities, but that's a different story.

Anyway with the war coming to an end you get left with the "slave loving Confederacy that couldn't even fight one war" heritage to live on with. It's kind of sucky but as time went on this got reinforced by politicians who wanted to punish southern politicians and land owners by besmirching their name and lineage. And they succeeded massively in making a kind of complex narrative into a simple "Confederacy = slavery" story.

Now don't get me wrong, people can be pissed off about the passed when they see a confederate flag, but it was a hell of a long time ago and it wasn't that simple anyway, slaves still existed in the north even after the war, but you don't see people getting pissed at the US flag do you?