Guest Essayist: James Legee, Graduate, Master of Arts in Political Science at Villanova University and Graduate Fellow at the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the study of Free Institutions and the Public Good

From the vantage point on March 4, 1865, President Lincoln saw the approaching end of the war, a most terrible war that exacted a toll on America never before seen and not seen since.  Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, delivered shortly before the war’s end and his assassination, is a brief summation of the events and looks forward to rebuilding the nation and healing her wounds.  It is a speech, which is perhaps unique to its era, but not solely in the events it addresses or its length.  Rather, can you imagine a modern President speaking in such a way today- making recurring references to the bible and God? Read more

The South’s surrender was a month away when Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural. Lincoln looks back on the war and ahead to the task of rebuilding the nation. A little over a month later, he was assassinated.

March 4, 1865

Fellow Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. Read more