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SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS

SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS

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Written by Hunter   
Wednesday, 08 October 2008 01:17

Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the
presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than
there was at the first. Then, a statement, somewhat in detail, of a
course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration
of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still
absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little
that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all
else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and
it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With
high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were
anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought
to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this
place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent
agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to
dissolve the Union, and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties
deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the
nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it
perish. And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed
generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it.
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that
this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen,
perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the
insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while government claimed
no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which
it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should
cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental
and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and
each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men
should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from
the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not
judged. The prayers of both could not be answered,--that of neither has
been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the
world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but
woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that
American slavery is one of these offenses which, in the providence of
God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed
time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South
this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came,
shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes
which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we
hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily
pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled
by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall
be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid
by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago,
so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and
righteous altogether."

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.

--ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
 
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2008 12:28
 
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