All great speeches contain ingenious rhetorical strategies. It is a great way to captivate and relate the gist of it all to the audience. In his second Inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln’s purpose was to reflect on the ever-lasting Civil War and look forth to peace. His strategy is to convey his view with God as his witness. President Lincoln successfully achieves his purpose of contemplating the effects of the Civil War and offering his vision for the future of the nation, using meaningful rhetorical strategies.
Lincoln understood there was no need for a lengthy address, instead “a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper (4-5)”. He lets everybody know what to expect from his second oath of the Presidential office. He is direct and relevant. In the third paragraph he reveals the reason for the war, “All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union (31-35).” This metaphorical ‘interest’ Lincoln refers to is the colored slaves localized in the southern part of the Union. This metaphor serves to re-collect the idea of the malice slavery has brought to the nation and how little the government has helped to put a stop to it. He interacts with the audience by proposing the authoritative scheme put forth by the Almighty God.
Religion is his basis for his testimony, being his most apparent rhetorical strategy. He continues in his third paragraph with a influential biblical allusion, “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh (50-53).” This allusion refers to the offense America has committed, in providence of God, which brings the misfortune North and South has experienced. His clever parallelism, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away (61-63),” serves to put emphasis on the magnitude of the problems war has brought forth and how crucial it is to cease.
Lincoln uses inclusive rhetorical strategies to accomplish his purpose to reflect on the Civil War and offer his vision for the future of the nation, “With malice toward none, and with charity for all (70).”
Courtney from Study Moose