Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural
- By Ronald C. White, Jr.
- Paperback: 256 pages
As the day for Lincoln's second inauguration drew near, Americans wondered what their 16th president would say about the Civil War. Would Lincoln guide the nation toward “Reconstruction”? What about the slaves? They had been emancipated, but what about the matter of suffrage?
When Lincoln finally stood before his countrymen on March 4, 1865, and shared only 703 words, the American public was stunned. The President had not offered the North a victory speech, nor did he excoriate the South for the sin of slavery. Instead, he called the whole country guilty of the sin and pleaded for reconciliation and unity.
In this compelling account, noted historian Ronald C. White, Jr. shows how Lincoln's speech was initially greeted with confusion and hostility by many in the Union; commended by the legions of African Americans in attendance, abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass among them; and ultimately appropriated by his assassin John Wilkes Booth 41 days later.
Filled with all the facts and factors surrounding the Second Inaugural, Lincoln's Greatest Speech is both an important historical document and a thoughtful analysis of Lincoln's moral and rhetorical genius.
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