I believe that had the war not happened, freedom from slavery would have taken the natural course. While I expect there are those who disagree strongly, many of the slave owners did think of the slaves as more family, or at least that type of responsibility. It was not with malice they held them but they truly believed it was in their best interest. In those times, it is easy to see why. Even today, we see that forcing people to accept a change before they are ready is more troublesome than letting them come to the conclusion it may be a better way on their own. Just setting them all free at once was a disaster that many of them didn't even know how to cope with.