Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural

Front Cover
Simon & Schuster, 2002 - History - 254 pages
As the day for Lincoln's second inauguration drew near, Americans wondered what their sixteenth president would say about the Civil War. Would Lincoln guide the nation toward "Reconstruction"? What about the slaves? They had been emancipated, but what about the matter of suffrage? When Lincoln finally stood before his fellow countrymen on March 4, 1865, and had only 703 words to share, the American public was stunned. The President had not offered the North a victory speech, nor did he excoriate the South for the sin of slavery. Instead, he called the whole country guilty of the sin and pleaded for reconciliation and unity.
In this compelling account, noted historian Ronald C. White Jr. shows how Lincoln's speech was initially greeted with confusion and hostility by many in the Union; commended by the legions of African Americans in attendance, abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass among them; and ultimately appropriated by his assassin John Wilkes Booth forty-one days later.
Filled with all the facts and factors surrounding the Second Inaugural, "Lincoln's Greatest Speech" is both an important historical document and a thoughtful analysis of Lincoln's moral and rhetorical genius.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MartinBodek - LibraryThing

I have an obsession with Lincoln that seems to be growing. I also am continuing efforts to refine my writing and oratory skills. To address all three at once, I came to the right place! Alliteration ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - estamm - LibraryThing

Somewhat standard fare, but I did like how the author deconstructed Lincoln's second inaugural address almost line by line to explain the historical context and what Lincoln meant. Nothing earth-shattering. Read full review


Inauguration Day
At this second appearing
And the war came

16 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Ronald C. White Jr. is professor of American Intellectual and Religious History at San Francisco Theological Seminary, as well as the author and editor of five books. He lives in La Caņada, California.

Bibliographic information