The Gettysburg Address and The Inaugural Addresses
After the Gettysburg Address was written then came the Second inaugural Address that was written to celebrate the birth of a new country (being that the war was over) and to bond the union back together. Lincoln also wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, a piece that was used in a way to win the war, force the south the rejoin the union, and also free the slaves. Throughout history the numerous speeches such as the Gettysburg address, The Inaugural Addresses, and the Emancipation proclamation had effects on the Civil War, and were texts influenced by the time period in which they were created. These texts were written by the influence of the time period in which they were created and are still relevant today by comparing to issues regarding the needs and hopes for justice.
Lincoln’s Career and Speeches
Between March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865, Lincoln, the president of the United States America became a highly influential leader of his time. He wrote many texts that became an important milestone in history by being influenced by the time period in which he lived in. Lincoln used his speeches in such a way to influence his audience to push for a better tomorrow. The Illinois native worked many small jobs until becoming the President of the United States. From 1834-1840 Lincoln served the Illinois state Legislature where he took a couple of years to focus on law school and becoming a lawyer. Soon after becoming a lawyer he wanted his views and ideas to be heard throughout the country, having this in mind he ran for president. Lincoln chose to represent the republican party “…because he believed people are at their best when they are free.” (Williams) These ideals allowed Lincoln to be a very popular candidate in the North, allowing him to receive backing for the election. Although he was an icon of his time, he had to begin instating his influence within the country by first winning the Presidential election of 1860.
The election became the first major time Lincoln had use his words as a tool to persuade the nation why his values were the ones, they needed to become a stronger more powerful. As the fight for the sixteenth president was at way the southern states began to go against Lincoln. As a man with a persuasive intellectual tongue, he had enough votes from the Northern states that put him into the oval office. The election was not won easily and eventually led to the South succeeding from the Union due to them becoming fearful that the election of Lincoln will lead to the demise of slavery. Even though this was not Lincolns intentions, he stated numerous times that, “devoted altogether to saving the Union without war…” was his number one priority. The civil war was the last thing Lincoln had in mind, but with it on the verge he had to use his words to influence the Union to prepare to fight if need be.
The beginning of his speeches started with his First Inaugural Address in March, of 1861 where he had to use words in such a way, “To retain his support in the North without further alienating the South…” (Lincoln). He thought of ways to keep control of the situation, thus leading to a compromise. Lincoln thought if a compromise was given to, “not initiate force to maintain the Union or interfere with slavery in the states in which it already existed” (Lincoln), then the south would remain a part of the Union. This turned out not to be the case due to the South’s fear of losing their “property” and their way of living. This was never the intention on Lincoln’s behalf, he even stated within his Address that, “the Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension” (Lincoln). This apprehension soon lead to the creation of The Confederate States of America (CSA). Lincoln addresses this new organization as “dissatisfied countrymen” (Lincoln) that wanted to cause chaos. The president made it quite evident that there would not be a war unless the CSA initiated; then he proceeded to tell them, “… You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.” Throughout this speech Lincoln made it show that he wanted to push the motto of, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Lincoln proceeded to say that, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies” due to him not wanting the war to break out in the first place he tried every prevention, but nothing was enough for the South thus leading to the infamous civil war a month later on April 12, 1861. Even though Lincoln was not able to be as influential as he is soon to be in his future speeches, his First inaugural address allowed the North to trust him as their leader for the coming Civil War. This moment in history he tried to convince the South to listen to his words, understand that he wanted nothing more than to reunite the nation and prosper as one.
The Gettysburg Address was written on November 19th, 1863 and is said to be a, “Monumental act” (Sumner) within history. Lincoln wrote the Address in dedication to the battlefield where the cemetery of the fallen was held in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Lincoln believed his speech (being that it was so short) that it would not be remembered when in all actuality it was more well known then the battle itself. The Gettysburg Address has been used numerous times to show that ‘… this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ (Lincoln) This speech was given in order to show the unity between the people both north and south post-civil war and influence future America to unite as one. Lincoln was ahead of his time in every word he spoke. When he wrote his speeches, he had the intentions of them benefitting the country in the future as well as the present.
The Emancipation Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln knew that the south had no intention of waving the white flag, so he took an alternative method by creating The Emancipation Proclamation. This specific piece shows a clear example of how Lincoln used his words in order to be persuasive enough to win the war. The Emancipation Proclamation stated, “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” (Lincoln) Lincoln used the Proclamation in order gain the upper hand on the south because he knew that southerners viewed slaves as their property making it easier for him to demonstrate the Presidential executive war powers. As commander-in-chief he was able to declare that all “property” or slaves were to be freed and not used towards the confederacy’s war efforts. Issuing the Emancipation Proclamation crippled the souths number of soldiers leading to its downfall. The Proclamation also changed the focus of the war from preserving the union to freeing the slaves. After fighting for so long to preserve the Union Lincoln knew if he did not try to put an end to slavery that the constant fight between North and South would proceed even with the war being over. By allowing the slaves to be set free the Proclamation paved the way for freed African Americans to start fighting for their civil rights by leading towards the total abolition of slavery. The act of knowing ridiculing and treating another human being as a tool is entirely wrong is one of the main reasons Lincoln is able to be such an influence of his time and even so today. Lincoln stated that, ““I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper… If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.’ Knowing that he was a person that wanted equality and freedom for African Americans speaks highly on his character being so that during his time period many did not except this ideal. The Emancipation Proclamation is proof of Lincolns great power his had obtained throughout his life by stating words on paper for all to see and not having a care in the world. As President of the United States he did think about the reparations of writing this piece but, he also chose his words very wisely in order to maintain the trust of the North. In the end of the war The Emancipation Proclamation became Lincolns number one most influential/ history altering speech that will forever be remembered as a piece that changed the lives of African Americans and the future generations to come.
The Second Inaugural Address
The Second Inaugural Address was a concise piece written after the re-election of Lincoln during the final days of the Civil War. He spoke on the war, slavery and how now as a nation it is important to start the era of reconstruction. Being elected for his second term he was ready to lead the country down a new path, one where people are free, equal, and the nation is prospering. The Second Inaugural Address was written in a time where the country just finished a brutal civil war and needed some motivation/ help getting back on its feet. Lincoln wrote intricately on the topics he thought the country needed to resolve the most such as slavery, reconstruction and the rebuilding of the union. The thoughts Lincoln had were portrayed through his words by using details that, “Propose a common public memory of both the war and American slavery as the basis for restoring national unity.” (Morel)
Lincoln gave the speech exactly a month before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, due to once again, “A supporter of slavery, Booth believed that Lincoln was determined to overthrow the Constitution and to destroy his beloved South.” (Norton) The assassination of Lincoln created a halt towards the movement of equality and the country as a whole. The assassination showed that many people still feared and were furious with Lincoln’s win during the civil war and that he freed their slaves. From the very beginning many feared Lincoln would be their downfall simply because his words were powerful and persuasive. All throughout history many iconic leaders were assassinated/ killed simply for using their words for good. The people who killed them were fearful because these people’s words were their weapons, just as Lincoln they used their words to persuade a group of people what was just from unjust. This address was used as a “weapon” by Lincoln to convince the Southern states that his ideals of reconstruction and equality are what the nation needs. Although Lincoln did not get the opportunity to reconstruct America he gave them the foundation to lead towards a better tomorrow.
Importance of Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy
In the world we live in today we are always fighting for a better tomorrow, whether it has been within politics, economically or just bettering our views as a society on each other. After many years we are still working on these things but the biggest one of all is the fight to end racism and prejudice. As a nation we have been fighting the same fight for over one hundred years. Throughout history there has been people who have taken a step in the direction towards equality using things such as words to influence the minds of others. Abraham Lincoln is one of these people, he has written numerous pieces such as the Emancipation proclamation, that uses words to push towards making America a better place. Back in the age of Lincoln many Caucasians despised African Americans simply due to the color of their skin. African Americans were enslaved and tortured for many years until Lincoln wrote the Emancipation proclamation. Although the slaves were technically now freed, they suffered many years of shaming and hate, even still today.
Within a meta-study (review of multiple studies) at Northwestern and Harvard it was shown that, “Hiring discrimination against Blacks hasn’t changed in the last 25 years” (Sherman), something as common as applying for a job can be a hard task for people of color because of the pigment in their skin being frowned upon or stereotypes that are created about them. Being discriminated against because of the color of your skin is still very prominent today but it is swept under the rug so well sometimes it does not show. This issue is one that involves needs and hopes for justice simply because it is immoral and the fight for abolishing slavery is long over now. Although the Emancipation Proclamation simply freed the slaves it did not give them respect or the ability to be treated as human beings. This freedom became the fuel for the fire in years to come that went down in history as the Civil Rights Movement. Lincoln might not have given African Americans the respect they deserved but he gave them the big step towards the right direction by giving them “freedom.”
Abraham Lincoln became an iconic influential leader of his time, by creating numerous speeches that gave powerful meanings that altered the Civil War. A man that was ahead of his time he wrote on the matters of preservation of the union and taking the first steps to abolishing slavery. Each piece was influenced by the time period in which they were written in but with the intentions of being useful for years to come. Lincolns speeches created the backing for contemporary issues dealing with the needs and hopes for justice to be solved by using the power of words as a weapon against hate, prejudice, and racism. Abraham Lincolns powerful words are what we can still use as a country to better ourselves from the past, present, and the future.