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18 pages (2008/1911); 159KB downloadWOWIO Books
; ISBN: WOWIO-00362
Abraham Lincoln's two inaugural addresses provide a sense of the tragic events in the United States in the 1860s.
Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address in a momentous setting. Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as the President of the Confederacy two weeks earlier.
As Lincoln looked toward his first term as president he sought to assure the Southern States that their property, peace and personal security were not threatened by his Republican administration. Lincoln says: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies."
But Lincoln also asserts his role as protector of the Union: "The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this also if they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor. . . .
"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend it.' "
Four years later Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address to thousands of spectators who were standing in the rain-soaked, muddy ground of Pennsylvania Avenue.
While some called for retribution toward the defeated Confederacy, Lincoln's message was more noble: "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."
An assassin would murder Lincoln just over one month after this address.