In front of a monochromatic sea of citizens, Abraham Lincoln recited his second speech that marked the beginning of his second term of presidency, his Second Inaugural Address. Considered to be one of his greatest speeches, his Second Inaugural Address is evaluated by many. Ronald White, Joseph Williams, and George Anastalpo critique the speech for different audiences, resulting in different approaches toward the speech that contain many similarities.
Ronald White gave the most in-depth analysis of the Second Inaugural Address. His fifteen-page essay encompasses the history behind the content of Lincoln’s speech, the grammar and style of Lincoln’s writing, and even the diction that he chose. White analyzes Lincoln’s speech chronologically, starting from the day before the Second Inauguration when a mass amount of wounded soldiers were being shipped to hospitals. He recalls the whole event in a third person omniscient point of view. The audience reacted with much happiness as Lincoln walks upon the stage to give his speech. Lincoln came prepared for this, unlike with the Gettysburg Address. He had the speech written out, ready for recitation to the eager audience. Not only does White recall the incident well, but he also cites the audience members’ reactions to the events. He points that a lot of the Second Inaugural Address reflects the same style and wording of Lincoln’s other works: House Divided, Meditation on the Divine Will, and Letter to Albert G. Hodges. White also mentions that Lincoln used a lot of personal pronouns or inclusive words.
Whereas White has an extensive description of the speech, Joseph Williams provides a very shallow view on its grammar and writing style. Williams deems the speech to have a very impersonal style, as if Lincoln was too afraid to admit his passion against slavery. Ironic, seeing that Williams’ speech is a bit impersonal as well. There is no mention of the emotions of any of the participants of the event. Williams’...
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