The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

When did Lincoln move in the direction of poetry rather than prose?

The fourth and final paragraph is a triumph of the written word: a masterful use of rhetoric backed by an unswerving belief that the Almighty favored the Northern cause.

“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.” This, of course, begs yet another question: Could anyone else have delivered an address with words and sentiments like these?

Yes. Another person, who had been through four years of agonizing self-doubt and soul-searching, could have done so. No one could have done it without that kind of rigorous self-examination, however. Here, in these words, Lincoln set the tone for his second administration and for what the reconstruction of the nation would be.


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