Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address Questions and Answers
by Abraham Lincoln

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How well did Abraham Lincoln use "ethos" in his second inaugural address?  

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President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address uses the rhetorical appeal to “ethos” effectively and often. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines “ethos,” in rhetoric, as

the character or emotions of a speaker or writer that are expressed in the attempt to persuade an audience. It is distinguished from pathos, which is the emotion the speaker or writer hopes toinduce in the audience.

Lincoln expresses or implies his own character in a number of ways in this speech, including the following:

  • He opens by addressing his listeners as “Fellow countrymen,” thereby implying that he considers himself, first and foremost, a citizen of the United States rather than its lofty leader.
  • By using the phrase “I trust” in the opening paragraph, he implies that he is wise enough to give his listeners credit for being wise and knowledgeable.
  • Lincoln shows his generosity by saying about the Civil War that “All dreaded it—all sought to avert it.” Presumably...

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