By Lincoln’s second inaugural address
By Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in March o 1865, the country had long been embroiled in the Civil War, and he stated that there was less need for a long address than there had been in his first inauguration. His second inaugural address was much shorter than the first, and, in it, he admitted the ties between the North and South that he had hoped would stay firm had been broken. He then discussed slavery directly and stated that God “now wills to remove” the institution of slavery. While he sought to protect slavery in his first address, he came to believe that God was on the side of the Union in abolishing slavery. However, as in his first address, he hoped for continued bonds between the different parts of the union and ended his address with a call for “malice toward none, with charity for all.” Was this a call for the Confederacy to re-enter the Union?
President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address uses the rhetorical appeal to “ethos” effectively and often. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines “ethos”, in rhetoric, as “the character or emotions of a speaker are expressed in the attempt to persuade an audience. It is distinguished from pathos, which is the emotion the speaker or writer hopes to induce the audience.”
He expresses or implies his own character in a number of ways in this speech, including the following:
– He opens by addressing his listeners as “Fellow countrymen”, thereby implying that he considers himself, first and foremost, a citizen of the United States rather than its lofty leader.
– By using the phrases “I trust” in the opening paragraph, he implies that he is wise enough to give his listeners credit for being wise and knowledgeable.
– Lincoln shows his generosity by saying about the Civil War that “All dreaded it – all sought to avert it.” Presumably he means even persons of good will in the South, although he then quickly indicates that some in the South “would make war rather than let the nation survive.”
– Lincoln presents his own aims (and thus his own personality) as modest and reasonable: all the government sought to do, he claims, was to restrict the spread of slavery
– Lincoln occasionally taunts defenders of slavery, but in general he is surprisingly restrained in his assessment of the South, as when he says, ‘but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” He thus shows his thoughtfulness, his religious convictions, and his wisdom.
– By praying for the end of the war while also indicating his firm intention to wage war until the North triumphs, Lincoln indicates his strength of character and his steely determination.
“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.”
These lines show Lincoln exhibiting his “ethos” or moral character in numerous ways. “With malice toward none” implies his lack of anger and hate; “with charity for all” implies his willingness to love everyone as Christians are taught to love; and “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right” implies his conviction but also his humility. The word “work” implies Lincoln’s recognition of the sheer diligence, effort, and commitment needed to finish the war, but it also implies that he does not glorify the war. He does not call it “the holy crusade of liberation”. He does not speak of magnificent triumphs. He does not vow vengeance or promise punishment. Instead, he speaks with moderation and modesty. In the remainder of the sentence he implies his compassion, his special concern for the soldiers (presumably those on both sides), and his thoughtfulness about the sufferings of non-combatants (again, presumably those on both sides). Finally, he shows that he is a man of peace who is also a man committed to justice – a man who will not settle for peace at any price. Lincoln’s address may talk mainly about the war, but it also paints a very clear picture of Lincoln’s own character or ethos.
In Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, he uses many different kinds of rhetorical strategies to unite a broken nation. During the time of the speech, it is four years into the Civil War and it is about to end. In this speech, Lincoln uses allusion, parallel structure, and diction to unify the North and the South.
A rhetorical strategy that is seen throughout Lincoln’s speech is allusion. He uses God and the Bible to show that the people both from the North and also the South have the same values. Lincoln says, “Each looks for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental 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 to 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.” What Lincoln said was from the Bible, and most people could relate because many of the citizens were very religious. Lincoln also states, “…Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds..” That was also an allusion to the Bible, impacting the people to help fix the nation and to help come together as a nation. Religion was very important to many citizens of that time, so the religious allusion used in the speech was very effective.
Another strategy used in Lincoln’s address was parallel structure. The parallel structure emphasized what his goals were for the nation. For example, he says, “to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bin 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.” Abraham Lincoln’s goal was to establish peace again within the two sides and to rebuild the nation. Another example of allusion was at the beginning of the speech when Lincoln said, “All dreaded it, all sought to avert it.” He said, “all” to bring together both sides, saying that neither one wanted to fight, but now they have to come together to fix the “broken nation.”
Lastly, Abraham Lincoln uses diction to create a feeling of unity between the people. In his speech, Abraham says, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God.” Lincoln uses the word “both” often in his speech, which unifies the North and the South. It also says in his speech, “..let us strive on to finish the work we are in…” The statement reminds everyone that they’re all in it together by saying “us”. Diction throughout Abraham Lincoln’s speech adds onto the unity that was created by parallel structure and allusion.
In Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, he uses religious allusion, encouraging parallel structure, and repetitive diction to unify the North and the South. Lincoln’s goal when giving this speech was not to celebrate the North’s win, but to unify and to create peace between the broken nation.