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Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Speeches

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"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies." Lincoln uttered these words with passion in the face of war on March 4th, 1861, in his first inaugural speech. At that time, the United States was a house to be divided. The same day four years later, upon the eve of peace, Lincoln addressed his second inaugural speech with trauma from the bloodiest period of the American history. Two inaugural speeches are vastly different; each has its own background, targets different topics and different audiences; however, they share the same paramount object.

South Carolina passed the ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, right after Lincoln was elected. Soon, six states from the Deep South seceded from the union and formed the Confederation States of American. The South believed that election of Abraham Lincoln, an "anti-slavery" republican, was a threat to slavery as a legal institute in the United States. As Lincoln realized that this belief fueled a momentum of secession; he decided to stop it with his inaugural speech. His overall tone in first inaugural speech was firm yet optimistic. The inaugural speech primarily discussed his policies regarding slavery and secession. "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it already exists." (First Augural Speech, Abraham Lincoln) Lincoln declared in the speech. He also mentioned that he did not oppose Fugitive Slave Act. He also interpret the constitution, concluded that "the Union of these States is perpetual" (First Augural Speech, Abraham Lincoln), and "the Union will endure forever." (First Augural Speech, Abraham Lincoln) Lincoln also promised not to use force against the South unless is proven necessary, while firmly held the ground that secession will not be tolerated. Targeting the South, Lincoln's first inaugural speech restated his ground on the key issues at the time and eased the tension between the Free States and the Slave States remained in the union.

A month after Lincoln's first inaugural speech, Fort Sumter was attacked. Then there was the Civil War. The North suffered the initial failure of Bull Run, and the balance of war did not lean to the North until the battle of Antietam. September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Then there are union victories like the battle of Shiloh, the battle of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and the capture of Atlanta, which all aided Lincoln's election in 1865. When Lincoln was elected once again in 1865, victory against the South was expected; slavery was ended in most parts of the United States. However, instead of excitement over triumph, Lincoln showed more sadness and forgiving. In this brief address, he did not deal with any specific issues, but emphasis the power of healing. He first talked about the war and the differences between two parties



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