Abraham Lincoln:What strikes you as the most interesting aspect of Lincoln's "Second Inaugural Address" which he delivered a little less than a month from the end of the Civil War?
What strikes one as the most interesting aspect of Lincoln's "Second Inaugural Address" is the emphasis he puts on slavery. To him, it is both the cause of the war and an explanation for why the war has dragged on so long: God is judging the nation for its crimes. Lincoln, for all that he doesn't try to judge the south, sees slavery as a scourge that he is relieved to have abolished.
Of course, readers will draw their own conclusions, but one very interesting aspect of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address is the amount of attention he focuses on the recently abolished institution of slavery, which he knows will end with the war that the North has almost won. For example, Lincoln points to slavery as the cause of the war, stating:
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.
Lincoln walks a fine line, too, between trying not judge those who fought the war to keep the institution of slavery alive and his conviction that the long and bloody conflict was God's judgment on the nation for allowing slavery to exist for so many years. He speaks to the people of hoping that the war will now end quickly but also says he is willing to accept if it must drag on far longer, stating so be it:
if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 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 sword...
The strong sense of God as directly involved in the fate of the United States is surprising as we look back through the lens of our more secular culture. Lincoln is completely forthright in casting the Civil War as a moral and religious struggle over slavery and for being willing to place blame on both sides rather than to stand by the north as all good while condemning the south as all evil. Lincoln also seems very grateful to God for allowing slavery to be abolished in the land.