"Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort." So spoke Frederick Douglass soon after he heard Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865. The abolitionist orator/editor (and former slave) had met Lincoln only twice before, and for most of the war was a fierce critic of the president's policies. But he praised Lincoln's four-paragraph speech as sounding "more like a sermon than like a state paper." Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address was a surprisingly brief but profound reflection on the meaning of the Civil War that speculated on the purposes of God to help reunite the country.
What would it be like to write an inaugural address, if you were a newly re-elected president who was presiding over the end of a Civil War that had cost
the country around 600,000 deaths during four agonizing years? What would you say to your countrymen, and to all the regions of the country involved in the conflict, that would show your understanding of what had transpired, and would give your aims and purposes for the next four years? In this lesson, students will try their hand at just such a task.
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