Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address

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Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

As I read the lines carefully of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, I wonder how a man who is elected for his second term as president with over 54% of the popular vote, and in turn, compose such an eloquent address can be assassinated little more than a month later. In reading other commentaries concerning this address it seems to me that everyone concurs that this address is one of the finest speeches ever written by a president. Lincoln wrote other memorable speeches such as his first inaugural address, and the Gettysburg Address, which are of equally high caliber, however, his second inaugural address is considered a favorite by most critics. Even the surrounding circumstances at the time of the address are unique. There was weeks of wet weather that had caused Pennsylvania Avenue to become a sea of mud and standing water. When the thousands of spectators came to witness the address they had to stand in thick mud at the Capitol grounds. Then the most amazing thing happened . . . as Lincoln started to deliver the address, the clouds parted and a sunburst broke forth. Even the president commented in surprise about it after the address was over. One commentary was written that said the following: "Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, which was his favorite of all his speeches, on March 4, 1865, at the start of his second term as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within sight and slavery had been effectively ended, Lincoln did not speak of triumph, but of loss, guilt and sin. Some see this speech as a defense of his pragmatic approach to Reconstruction, in which he sought to avoid harsh treatment of the defeated South by reminding his listeners of how wrong both sides had been in imagining what lay before them when the war began four years ago. Lincoln balanced that rejection of triumphalism, however, with recognition of...
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