By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for his second term as president on Saturday, March 4, 1865, the union was nearly restored, slavery essentially destroyed, and high hopes for a better future were widespread. Yet the short, solemn Second Inaugural Address suggest just how exhausted Americans must have felt after the terrible ordeal of their four-year Civil War. Instead of celebration, President Lincoln offered something like a sermon, turning the occasion into a sober reflection on how the conflict over slavery had erupted into an unexpectedly long, hard war, and about how astounding it was to contemplate if that had all been God's plan. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Second Inaugural Address, Washington, DC, March 4, 1865 in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 8: 332-333, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
The People of the United States
Transcription adapted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), edited by Roy P. Basler
Adapted by Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College