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Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 4 May 2018

Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address

At the time of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which was delivered in March 1865, the country had (long) been looking forward to the end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s second address is shorter than the first one because according to him there was no need for a long address because of the union’s current political situation. Compared to the first address, Lincoln is using many different kinds of rhetorical strategies like religious allusions, parallel structure, as well as diction in order to reunite a broken nation and make them feel united again, which I’m going to focus on in the following.

Lincoln starts with the words “Fellow countrymen”, which shows that he sees himself on the same level as the other citizens, and not only their president. He also wants to emphasize that he pursues the same interests as everyone should: to stop the war. Lincoln often uses the rhetorical method of allusion, focusing on God and the Bible to reunite the country, the North and the South, by stating that they all have the same faith. In his second inaugural speech, Lincoln says, “Each looks for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we are not judged.” In this paragraph Lincoln is quoting the Bible, which is very smart and effective of Lincoln to use religious allusions like the ones stated above; Therefore, a lot of people can relate. He also wanted to point out that they should all be on the same side and not fight against each other.
The main reason why the Civil War started was that the North and the South ha

At the time of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which was delivered in March 1865, the country had (long) been looking forward to the end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s second address is shorter than the first one because according to him there was no need for a long address because of the union’s current political situation. Compared to the first address, Lincoln is using many different kinds of rhetorical strategies like religious allusions, parallel structure, as well as diction in order to reunite a broken nation and make them feel united again, which I’m going to focus on in the following.

Lincoln starts with the words “Fellow countrymen”, which shows that he sees himself on the same level as the other citizens, and not only their president. He also wants to emphasize that he pursues the same interests as everyone should: to stop the war. Lincoln often uses the rhetorical method of allusion, focusing on God and the Bible to reunite the country, the North and the South, by stating that they all have the same faith. In his second inaugural speech, Lincoln says, “Each looks for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we are not judged.” In this paragraph Lincoln is quoting the Bible, which is very smart and effective of Lincoln to use religious allusions like the ones stated above; Therefore, a lot of people can relate. He also wanted to point out that they should all be on the same side and not fight against each other. The usage of the word “both”, as in the quote above, often occurs during his speech, which is an example of how he uses his diction in order to try to connect the people and create a feeling of unity.

The main reason why the Civil War started was that the North and the South had two different opinions on slavery. When Lincoln delivered his second address, this issue (was put in the background) but the two parties were still fighting. Lincoln also states, “…Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…” This statement is also an allusion to the Bible, which he is using to impact the people to help bring the nation back together. Lincoln is mentioning the pronouns “us” and “we”, to point out that it is about time to reunite the country, combining the North and the South. The word “work” implies Lincoln’s recognition of the sheer diligence, effort, and commitment needed to finish the war, but it also implies that he does not glorify the war. Neither does he speak of magnificent triumphs nor does he threaten the South with punishment. Instead, he speaks with moderation and modesty. Another example of an allusion is at the beginning of the speech when Lincoln says, “All dreaded it, all sought to avert it.” He is trying to treat both parties equally by saying “all” and not mentioning just the North or just the South. Nobody wanted a war, and nobody was fairly prepared for one but after so many years of fighting, losses, tears, and deaths they now have to come together to fix the “broken nation” and make peace again. Lincoln also concludes: “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman\’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’\”. Relating to this quote one can tell that Lincoln is not very fond of the war, but his faith in God and religion are very clear to see.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.” These lines show Lincolns religious character in various ways. “With malice toward none” implies that he is willing to forgive the South and to recreate the Union with them without judging. “[W]with charity for all” implies his willingness to love everyone as Christians are taught to love according to the Bible; and “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right” This passage shows that Lincoln is a man of the law, but that through God the people are able to see what is right and what is wrong. It is clear to see that Lincoln does not separate the nation into the North and the South, not even when he mentions the fallen soldiers and their grieving families. To Lincoln it does not make a difference which party one belongs to but that every single citizen finds their own peace and most importantly that the nation finds its peace as one.

The main goal in his first address was to keep the nation together and to prevent the upcoming Civil War. In contrast to the second address, Lincoln then stated very clearly that the fate of the Union lies in the hands of the South and only they can prevent the Civil War: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it.’” He is calling the South themselves “the aggressors” and is separating himself and his union from the others, unlike his second address, in which he only uses the pronouns “us” and “we”, creating a unified feeling.

d two different opinions on slavery. When Lincoln delivered his second address, this issue (was put in the background) but the two parties were still fighting. Lincoln also states, “…Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…” This statement is also an allusion to the Bible, which he is using to impact the people to help bring the nation back together. Lincoln is mentioning the pronouns “us” and “we”, to point out that it is about time to reunite the country, combining the North and the South. The word “work” implies Lincoln’s recognition of the sheer diligence, effort, and commitment needed to finish the war, but it also implies that he does not glorify the war. Neither does he speak of magnificent triumphs nor does the threat the South with punishment. Instead, he speaks with moderation and modesty. Lincoln also expresses his compassion, his special concern for the soldiers and his thoughtfulness, as well as condolences towards the suffering families. This shows that he is a man of peace who is also a man committed to justice.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 4 May 2018

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