Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address of reconciliation was an attempt to convince the Union to restore friendly relations with the South and heal the torn nation. Lincoln takes his audience to the past, present, and future by mentioning his First Inaugural Address, the nation’s current condition and position, and his blueprint of the future and how to achieve such desired goals. His placement of blame and his stunning hope for reunification and reconstruction is best achieved through syntactical arrangements and appeal to the authority of God.
Lincoln contemplates the effects of the war by discussing how it started, its duration, and the casualties to put a litany of blame on the South; he accomplishes so by utilizing antithesis, juxtaposition, anaphoric repetition, and chiasmus. Although Lincoln does not directly mention that the war was the South’s fault, he makes it blatantly obvious through the antithesis, “Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish…” The juxtaposition pairs two contrasting ideas together and engages his audience to clearly understand him. The unexpected duration that “neither party expected …the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause…” communicates that the war came in spite of the best intentions of political leaders of the nation. By appealing to common Christian values, Lincoln emphasizes the similarities between the northerners and southerners regarding their foundational values. It incorporates many of the themes of the religious revivals: sin, sacrifice, and redemption. The chiasmus, “let us judge not, that we be not judged,” reflects the Christian value of forgiveness, an action that the North and South should take and apply to their current circumstances. Lincoln exemplifies that the war was God’s plan, “He gives to both North and South this terrible war...
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