Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
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. The progress
of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known
to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory
and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction
in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts
were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it--
all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war,
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--
seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather
than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather
than let it perish. And the war came.