Steve Shaw

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural “The address sounded more like a sermon than a state paper.” Frederick Douglass offered this comment on March 4, 1865, in response to President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. In a speech of only 703 words, the speech he considered his greatest speech, Abraham Lincoln issued not a call to arms but a call to a higher national purpose. In pondering the meaning of our bloodiest war rather than pontificating about conquest, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is a testament to presidential reflection at its finest. Dr. Shaw’s talk focuses on Lincoln seeking reunification rather than revenge, and examines Lincoln’s belief in the special destiny of America amid all its ambiguities.