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Rhetorical Analysis of Abraham Lincoln's Inagural Address

By ameliaohdumb Oct 21, 2013 454 Words
Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most well-known president of the United States. He is one of the most controversial and hated presidents at the time of his presidency, but greatly admired by people today. He was a wonderful speaker and used many different tactics to get his point across efficiently.

The first thing he says in his Second Inaugural Address was “at this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office.” This appeals to ethos by making the audience trust him because you know he has been president before. He uses the authority that he had from being the previous president to let you know that the people of America made the correct choice for the presidency. He uses words such as we, all, and our throughout the speech which makes you feel like he is equal to you. By making himself seem like a peer he is putting himself at the audience’s level no matter who they are. If you were a slave during the Civil War you would think that Lincoln was talking to you, the same goes for if you were a wealthy plantation owner or an abolitionist in the North. Just by saying the word all, Lincoln appeals to all audiences. Following this Lincoln uses words like dreaded, anxiously, and impending to appeal to the audiences emotions. He makes you feel the way they felt at the beginning of the war, and you know that they were not in favor of it because of the words he uses. Lincoln uses pathos again at the end of his speech when he says “to bind up the nation’s wounds.” He is personifying our nation to make it seem like it is physically healing, while the people of the nation were healing emotionally, and many people were wounded and many buildings destroyed. Logic is used in this speech when Lincoln gives statistics about the population. He says that “one-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it.” By using this statistic Lincoln is showing that there were many slaves in America and he says that they were somehow the cause for the war. At the very end of the speech Lincoln says “with malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” He means that there is still work to do even though the war is over. The country needs to become unified again and be accepting of each other, and help to rebuild and heal this country. And Lincoln gets this point across throughout his speech by using precise word choice and using different writing techniques.

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