Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
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In the “Second Inaugural Address” (1865), Abraham Lincoln contemplates that they, as a United Nation, should reflect on the effects of the Civil War and move towards a better future for this nation. He addresses God and the issue of slavery in order to encourage the Northern and Southern states towards reconciliation. Lincoln tries to reveal his intention by utilizing figurative diction, parallel syntax, and a shifting tone.
Abraham Lincoln uses figurative and euphonious diction to encourage reflection on the Civil War to the people of Northern and Southern United States. First, he uses figurative paradox to contradict judging others (the slaves), and expect that “we” (the owners of the slaves) should not be judged. “It may seem strange that any men should dare 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 not be judged.” This paradoxical statement addresses God as a medium that will assist the country with slavery from the “sweat of other men’s faces” (the slaves), yet the owners expect not to be judged when they do much to be judged; this will give insight to the people to reconciliate their actions.
Also, euphonious diction is used through the term of rhyme; in which Lincoln expresses the hopes for “us” (the North and South) to end the Civil War effects without trying to doing anything to end this cause. “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.” He uses the words “pray and “away” as a rhyme to fully express the meaning of trying to work towards the reconstruction of the aftermath in the Civil War; rather than hoping it will pass away soon. Abraham Lincoln uses figurative and euphonious diction to lead the people of Northern and Southern United States in reflecting on the Civil War through his vision for a better future.
Lincoln also uses parallel syntax to include both parties (the North and South), and show similarities between their reactions to the war. At first he uses anaphora to include the similarity in the idea that neither of the parties “expected what was “anticipated”. “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.” The repetition of “Neither” gives a similarity that “Neither” party really expected the duration and the cause of the war; which will make both parties realize the conflict, and will be encouraged, by Lincoln, to fix this problem between the sides for a better future for the country. Parallelism is used to give common qualities among the North and South. “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invoked His aid against the other.” Even though this is a break in parallelism, Lincoln uses the word “same” to show that since the North and South believe and connect with the same God, they should be connected as a nation as well; this in which will encourage both sides to try and reconstruct peace between them through this equal quality. Abraham Lincoln utilizes parallel syntax to convey the equal similarities between the parties about their reactions towards the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln shifts his tone from condescending to optimistic so that he can reconstruct a nation that goes from conflict to, hopefully, a resolution. Lincoln’s condescending tone is apparent when talking about the background of the war, and its concentration in the South. “One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not disturbed generally over the union, but localized in the southern part of it.” President Lincoln uses the phrase, “but localized in the southern part of it” to show how slavery is mostly an issue in the South that caused the unwanted war, and how the North did nothing to help either; which will make both parties realize the problem and try to fix it for the good of the country. Lincoln then moves towards an optimistic tone to give encouragement to the North and South.
“With malice towards 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,… and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” What Lincoln is doing is giving an optimistic and encouraging feeling by using words like “charity,” “firmness,” “strive,” and “bind” in order to inspire and motivate the people to help fix the separated nation. Abraham Lincoln shifts from a condescending tone to an optimistic tone to give a sense of going from conflict to resolution.
Lincoln reveals his intention by utilizing figurative diction, parallel syntax, and a shifting tone. He addresses God and the issue of slavery in order to encourage the Northern and Southern states towards reconciliation. In the “Second Inaugural Address” (1865), Abraham Lincoln contemplates that we, as a United Nation, should reflect on the effects of Civil War and move towards a better future for this nation.