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Download Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural epub

by Ronald C. White

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Filled with all the facts and factors surrounding the Second Inaugural, Lincoln's Greatest Speech is both an important historical document and a thoughtful analysis of Lincoln's moral and rhetorical genius.
Download Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural epub
ISBN: 0743212991
ISBN13: 978-0743212991
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Ronald C. White
Language: English
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 28, 2003)
Pages: 256 pages
ePUB size: 1802 kb
FB2 size: 1555 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 977
Other Formats: azw lit mobi doc

Though most people are more familiar with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address, it was actually Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address that was his greatest speech. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was present on March 4, 1865 when Lincoln gave the speech, said it was like "a psalm."

Historian Ronald C. White, Jr. examines the speech in great detail in this excellent little book of some 250 pages. White explains what Lincoln was trying to accomplish with each paragraph. He also shows how many of the thoughts Lincoln expressed in the speech had been brewing for some time. Since the speech makes frequent reference to God and quotes the Bible three times, White also maps Lincoln's growth from a fatalist to a believer in Christianity.

In a short speech of seven minutes, Lincoln explained why the war had come, how the whole country was to blame for it, and God's hand in it. Lincoln also expressed the hope that North and South, slave and free, would forgive each other--that they would all have "malice toward none" and "charity for all."

I've always believed that Lincoln's Second Inaugural reads like scripture or poetry. This wonderful book has served to confirm that belief.
Forty-one days after delivering his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln was dead.
As people looked back to the March day he took the Presidential oath of office for the second time, they accepted the words of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address as his last will and testament for the Union he fought so hard to preserve.
There is always a dramatic moment in the life of a person, party, organization or nation that cries for the uplift and release of a speech. Someone steps forward to articulate the pride, hope or grief of it all. The speaker becomes the center of attention and the world stops to listen. And on that dreary March day, Lincoln addressed a nation shaken by four years of horror and sacrifice on both sides.
This book's focus is on Lincoln's words, but a larger portrait of the deep, brooding sprit that inspired the words emerges. The speech paints a portrait of Lincoln agonizing with his struggle for justice and reconciliation for the South. His seven minute treatise spoke to a nation and to a world that was overwhelmed by death and the issues that lead to the killing by offering hope and judgment.
To a time that lacked statesmanship and leadership, his words transcend the time in which they were delivered. He spoke with a simple conviction that carried healing to his listeners and readers, then and today.
Ronald White transforms this speech from one man's struggle with doubt into a promise of hope and redemption for the ages.
Ronald C. White offers great insight into the setting and style of that early March day, in the year 1864, as well as a detailed breakdown of the speech that is considered as one of the finest speeches in American History today. Although I purchased this as part of an AP US History course many years ago, I find myself flipping through and reading sections of it from time to time each year out of the second copy I have. I will not go into my personal thoughts on his speech as most have, but overall a great read. Second copy of the book came a little later than the original time stated, hence the reason for 4 stars.
Elastic Skunk
I picked up Ronald White's impressive book to learn not only about Lincoln's March 4, 1865, Second Inaugural Address, but also about persuasive speech. And learn I did. Thus, I think others who speak or write about things important will be instructed by Lincoln and White's analysis of his effective rhetoric. For them, that alone will be worth the price of the book.
But there is much more in these pages. I'm neither a Lincoln scholar nor an historian, and I'm not sure what I was expecting, but when I read histories I first check for the wide range of material the authors draw upon. I then look for the care they take not to read into their texts and sources what they want readers to hear, but to read out of them what they actually say and to tell us what they have found between the lines. I appreciated White's integrity and discipline in this regard.
I also found myself fascinated by both the president's penetrating insights into human nature and White's deft ability to spell them out. I was impressed, too, with the author's lucid descriptions of the historical setting, emotional context and profound theological influences that shaped Lincoln and his address. They helped me to identify with the president as he struggled to heal and unify the nation and to see why he approached his daunting task the way he did. Moreover, both White's competence as an historian and his training in theology helped me to understand better not only this critical American moment, but also to grasp what Lincoln's message says to us today.
When finished reading, I went to our back bedroom to be alone. I read the speech to myself several times. Then I stood at the window and looked down on the plants in our garden, envisioning them as Lincoln's inaugural audience. Then, imagining I were the president at his podium, giving his greatest speech to the war-weary people before him, I read his words aloud, trying to capture his cadence, milking his use of alliteration, and pausing to stress what I now believed he wanted to emphasize. I don't cry at the drop of a hat, but as I read the last paragraph -- "With malice toward none; with charity for all ... a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations." -- my brain brought me back to our present world. Tears filled my eyes, and I could hardly finish.