Leonard Pitts wrote that it is a "myth" that Lincoln freed the slaves. He also wrote that Lincoln did not believe that African Americans are equal to whites, and that he fought the Civil War only to preserve the Union. He is wrong on all counts.
It's true, as Mr. Pitts wrote, that the Emancipation Proclamation applied initially only to slaves behind Confederate lines. But after the Proclamation took effect, every Union advance became a liberation, freeing slaves wherever Confederate forces were driven back. (The federal government had no constitutional power to free slaves in the Union, until the 13th Amendment, which Lincoln supported, corrected this defect and abolished slavery throughout the United States.)
Like most of his contemporaries, Lincoln had little hope that blacks and whites would ever be socially equal. But he was adamant that all men are equal in their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. This is the only kind of equality that governments can properly enforce.
Mr. Pitts writes that Lincoln fought the Civil War to save the Union, not to free the slaves. But it was Lincoln's opposition to slavery that led the Southern states to secede. He had made clear that he considered slavery an evil to be ended as soon as possible, and the Southern leaders preferred civil war to that. It's bizarre to say that Lincoln fought only to save the Union, while ignoring why the Union was in danger.