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Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address

Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address

Abraham Lincoln gave many memorable addresses during his political career, but his second inaugural address is ranked as perhaps his greatest speech. On March 4, 1865, as he began his second term as president, Lincoln delivered the address at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. With the Union forces close to victory—the Civil War would end the following month—Lincoln's address looked forward to the peace that would follow. Throughout the war Lincoln had expressed his desire to preserve the Union. In his address he reminded his listeners that the issue of slavery had been central to the Civil War and suggested that slavery had offended God and brought forth divine retribution in the form of the conflict. Now, with peace at hand, he urged a national reconciliation "with malice toward none, with charity for all." Lincoln did not have the opportunity to shape Reconstruction. He was shot on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth during the performance of a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. He died the next day.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationHistorical Legal Documents and Landmark Speeches