Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address

(1865)

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One of the central texts in American history, Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, delivered on March 4, 1865, defined the meaning of the Civil War and approached the task of Reconstruction with humility and compassion. By identifying slavery as the cause of war, the speech stands as testament to the transformative power of the Civil War—a war begun to defend the Union that became a war to end slavery. By focusing on God's presence and agency in the war, the speech stands as...