Analysis of Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

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Analysis of Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

By | April 2012
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Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address
When Abraham Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 the Union was divided. He accepted his presidential duties knowing that he was working with a nation that no longer remained united. Seven of the southern states had already seceded from the Union and were beginning to refer to themselves as the Confederates. What he had now were free states and slave states. When Lincoln gave his Inaugural Address he attempted to do so in a way that would not dissuade his chances of gaining support in the southern states, especially when it involved the institution of slavery. However, he also made it clear in his address that he believed a secure and united nation was of utmost importance and he rejected the ideas of secession and minority rule, and he did not endorse the separation of his nation.

Abraham Lincoln was elected without the support of a single southern state. The states in the south were fearful that Lincoln, who openly discouraged slavery, would establish anti-slavery laws and equality for all citizens, including blacks. However, in his address Lincoln did the opposite. Lincoln knew the southern states were apprehensive of him being the man in charge and assumed their rights may be endangered and he wanted to ease their mind. He let those in the South know that he had no purpose to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states it currently exists, and that he had no lawful right to do so (669). Lincoln had said this repeatedly in many speeches he made before this address, and he never intended to change his position on this. He believed each state had the right to control their domestic affairs, and the federal government will do its best not to interfere with state sovereignty. That balance of power is what makes the political system in the United States so successful and Lincoln really attempts to respect that. Lincoln then addresses the controversy about the delivering up of slaves after they have escaped....