Style Analysis of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Adress

618 WordsJun 5, 20093 Pages
Style Analysis of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address Abraham Lincoln was one of the most talented American public speakers to serve as Commander in Chief. He was a master of rhetoric and persuasion, and could bring a country together with the briefest of speeches. Taking a mere eight minutes, his Second Inaugural Address is known as one of the most famous speeches in history, and is argued to be the best inaugural address in the history of the world. At the time of the speech, the United States was in crisis. The Civil War was ravaging the country, and hundreds of thousands were already dead. Lincoln’s speech addressed the nation at a critical time, and was exactly what the people needed to hear. Lincoln comforts and inspires the people with his last line, “[L]et 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 this battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…” This statement of determination gives the people hope for a brighter future, and faith in the man who will bring it to them. The Second Inaugural is chock-full of exemplary rhetorical strategies that greatly add to the effectiveness of the speech. Lincoln persuades and assures the people that the Confederates are malicious rebels, bent on, “making war,” and, “destroying the nation.” He does this by referring to the Confederates only as “insurgents,” and giving them an aura of wickedness by saying, “Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.” This cunning use of diction and antithesis, using “make war” in reference to the Confederates and “accept war” in relation to the Union, puts all the blame of the war on the Confederates. Lincoln pushes this point again with antithesis, declaring that while he was, “devoted altogether to saving

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