The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
How did Lincoln begin his second inaugural address?
Lincoln began by calmly observing that this second inaugural address was not as pressing as the first had been. He meant that matters within the nation were moving in a more predictable fashion and that the great crisis of the past four years was beginning to recede. He declined to speculate on when or how the war would end, saying only that there was “high hope for the future.”
In the second paragraph, Lincoln turned to the situation as it was four years ago. He pointed out that, in 1861, no one was eager for war. The North and the South alike wished to attain their objectives by more peaceful means, but when they found this impossible, they turned to war. There was little, if any, recrimination in these remarks. Lincoln could certainly have taken the South to task, but he chose not to.