"Today we've had a national tragedy."President George W. Bush spoke these words after a horrendous attack on America.As we watched bombs fly into steel and then explode, we waited to hear the advice and comfort our President would give to us.One hundred thirty-seven years ago, President Abraham Lincoln experienced a similar "national tragedy" for a duration of four years.Lincoln's second inaugural address had to provide the United States of America with similar advice and comfort near the end of a civil war.
After four years of this gory civil war, Lincoln was re-elected for the presidency of the United States.When he wrote his speech, Lincoln must have though about the past four years.The southern states had formed the Confederate States of America; a civil war had begun, and the nation had erupted in turmoil.He knew that the North wanted a harsh punishment for the southern states, but he also knew that this was one reason why the South did not like the North.
As Lincoln's pen starts to form the words, "With malice toward none; with charity for all;…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," his desire is to heal a broken land.Though he had signed Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln knew that, "the issues at hand could not be solved by either emancipation or armistice" (203).Lincoln had to change the hearts of his people, and as William H. Seward told the president, "Be sure that while all your administrative conduct will be in harmony with Republican principals and policy, you cannot lose the Republican party by practicing in your advent to office the magnanimity of a victor."(75)He had to unify the country in one speech, and this was his only chance.
"Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation su…