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Civil War – American Civil War Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 May 2018

Civil War – American Civil War

The Civil War, which divided the Northern and Southern states in the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, raged on when Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as President. Lincoln Knew that all the tragedy and casualties had to come to an end. When delivering his Second Inaugural Address, he chose to send a message of reconciliation and healing to both sides instead of focusing on politics, slavery, and state’s rights. Through the use of allusion, diction, and syntax Lincoln creates a common ground to unify the North and South.

Lincoln uses allusion to justify the war and its purpose, which was to end slavery. In his speech, he alludes to the Bible, quoting, “Woe unto the world because of offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh,” to show that the war was caused by God’s wish and was inevitable. America as a whole had committed the“offense” of slavery, not just the South but the North as well because they were involved at the beginning of the slave trade and did nothing to end it. Lincoln suggests that the tragedy wrought by the war was a divine punishment to America for possessing slaves to fulfill their greedy desires, saying that God may will that the war continue \” until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword\”, and that the war was America\’s \”woe due\”, so both sides were to be blamed for their actions. He again alludes to the Bible, and says, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” demonstrating that the meaning of the war was for the North and South to see the consequences of their failings, and to learn to become better people, and through that a better nation, calling for all Americans to “strive on to finish the work we are in, and to bind the nation’s wounds” alluding to a passage of the Book of Psalms, which states that God heals the broken hearted and wounded.

Lincoln uses diction to create a unifying tone throughout his speech that will set the direction of the nation’s path of recovery. When he says, “let us strive on to finish the work we are into bind up the nation’s wounds,” and, “and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations,” he uses specific verbs such as “strive,” to encourage the nation to fight vigorously toward their goal of unity, “bind,” to establish a bond between both sides of the nation, and “cherish” to ask the people to care for one another, including for people on opposite sides, for everyone once belonged to the same great nation. This is so that the people will take notice of the actions that Abraham Lincoln wants the people to do, and remember the emphasized words clearly. Also throughout his speech, he uses the word “both” in quotes such as, “Both read the same Bible and prayed to the same God,” and, “He gives to both North and South this terrible war,” to address both the North and South’s similarities and involvement in starting the war. He wants to portray the two parties as equals, neither better nor superior in the eyes of their Almighty God, and both to blame in the war.

Lincoln uses syntax to create a formal and ministerial tone in his speech to engage his religious audience. Lincoln asks the audience a rhetorical question, “He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?” to make them think about God’s reasons for letting a bloody and terrible war divide them. The audience, who believe that God is an all-knowing and righteous God, will start to see that while they will never really understand God’s purposes, they can discern that the reason war came was to end a cruel and harsh treatment of slaves and that the war is a punishment to all those whose wealth and security came at the expense of brutal and inhumane cruelty. He then uses parallel structure to emphasize the reasons for why the war started. Lincoln states, “To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend [slavery] was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war,” to show why the South seceded from the United States. They wanted to spread slavery into newly acquired parts of the West, including New Mexico and Utah territories. But God, Lincoln said, decided that slavery would continue no more, and began the war to end it. He again uses parallel structure when he says, “With malice toward none, with charity for all” to summarize the actions that he wants his fellow countrymen to accomplish in order to heal and reunite the two sides of the nation. He wants the audience to remember these specific words so that they are reminded to strive toward their goal of unifying the states.

Lincoln uses the combined power of religious allusion, syntax, and diction to show that both sides carry blame in the war through God’s justice, and use that as a bonding agent to recombine the United States so that they can “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among [themselves] and with all nations.”

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 3 May 2018

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