Abe Lincoln History


Quotes
- Lincoln Memes
- Famous Quotes
- Leadership Quotes
- Religious Quotes
- Slavery Quotes

Letters
- Grace Bedell
- Letter to Mrs. Bixby

Writings
- Emancipation Proclamation

Speeches
- Lyceum Address
- Peoria Speech
- Temperance Address
- House Divided Speech
- Cooper Union Address
- Farewell to Springfield
- Address at Independence Hall
- First Inaugural Address
- Second Inaugural Address
- Last Public Address
- The Gettysburg Address

Assassination
- 5 Facts
- Abraham's Dream
- John Wilkes Booth
- Assassination Conspirators
- Assassination Timeline
- Assassination Summary
- Artifacts

Family
- Mary Todd Lincoln
- Robert Todd Lincoln
- Tad Lincoln
- Willie Lincoln


 

Second Inaugural Address

Second Inaugural Address
Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865

Reveals Lincoln's deep political and theological understanding.

Abe Lincoln's second inaugural address is considered by many not only the greatest inaugural address, but the greatest speech of any kind ever delivered in the United States. This speech was short as Lincoln's Second Inaugural is one of the shortest inaugural addresses ever.
Lincoln's second inaugural address somberly intoned the sacrifices made to end slavery and preserve the Union while calling for mutual forgiveness between North and South as the work of rebuilding began.

Just 701 words long, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address took only six or seven minutes to deliver, yet contains many of the most memorable phrases in American political oratory. The speech contained neither gloating nor rejoicing. Rather, it offered Lincoln’s most profound reflections on the causes and meaning of the war. The “scourge of war,” he explained, was best understood as divine punishment for the sin of slavery, a sin in which all Americans, North as well as South, were complicit. It describes a national moral debt that had been created by the “bondsmen’s 250 years of unrequited toil,” and ends with a call for compassion and reconciliation.
What was the purpose of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address?
Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, during his second inauguration as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of sadness.

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address promised a vast national future only a month before his assassination and the end of the American Civil War. The following is a transcription of his original draft of his remarks--the edits reflect the changes made by Secretary of State William Seward. After the brief but remarkable speech, scroll down to learn more about what Lincoln's vision meant for the war, for the republic, and for emancipation.

Second Inaugural Address quote

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Addresss

United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., March 4, 1865

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phrase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thought were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it - all sought to avert it. While the inaugeral [sic] address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war - seeking to dissole [sic] the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. 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. And the war came.

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part o fit. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope-fervently do we pray-that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God will that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.

 
 
Abe Lincoln History