LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. 1809-1865.
Inauguration of President Lincoln, March 4th, 1865. [Washington, D.C.?: 1865.]
Broadside (282 x 226 mm). Toning at margins, short tear at centerfold, a few tiny chips at edges, small old stain at blank lower margin.
RARE BROADSIDE PRINTING OF LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURAL SPEECH. No examples are recorded in OCLC, and no copies appear in ABPC or Americana Exchange; aside from a single privately sold copy, we are unable to locate another example.
Having won the 1864 election on the heels of the military successes of Grant and Sherman, and with the Civil War drawing to a close, Lincoln used the occasion of his second inauguration to urge forgiveness towards the South, simultaneously condemning slavery in the strongest terms and reasserting the righteousness of the Union cause. Hailed by some as "Lincoln's Greatest Speech" (see Ronald C. White's work of the same title, Simon & Schuster, 2002), the brief address stands as one of the great political texts in American history.
Excerpts: "While the [first] inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war, seeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation. 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, and the war came."
"Both [parties] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any man should dare to 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 be not judged."
"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondmen in two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the swordas was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Lincoln closes the speech with the now famous plea to strive "with malice toward none, with charity for all ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
The powerful and concise (701 words) address, "delivered sixteen months after Lincoln's remarks at Gettysburg and only forty-two days before his death, is, in many ways, the more revealing, if not the more stylistically pleasing, speechmore revealing because the later speech discloses Lincoln's thinking, at the end of his life, on key issues with which he had grappled throughout his long political career: slavery and race, the meaning of nationhood, the purpose of government, the role of God in the universe" (Tackach, Lincoln's Moral Vision: The Second Inaugural Address, p xiv).