Response Paper: Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
“Lincoln’s other most celebrated speech is his Second Inaugural Address. The themes in it are very different from those in his remarks at Gettysburg. Keeping response papers #3 and #6 (above) in mind, read the Second Inaugural Address and analyze what Lincoln might have been trying to accomplish. Pentads and speech-act analysis might be useful, here.”
Act: The placement of a band-aide over the nation’s wounds.
Purpose: To mend a broken heart, i.e., the United States; to make the heart whole again, connect the nation.
Agent: The wound healer, connector of the people.
Agency: Common ground, common interests, and a common love (the United States).
Scene: The joining road for the wounded, a path that units the nation.
As Lincoln enters his second term as President of the United States, he sums up his strength to lead a broken-hearted nation. With the Civil War still on everyone’s mind Lincoln is the man everyone looks to to provide aid and comfort to heal their wounds. With his Second Inaugural Address Lincoln attempts to do just that.
He stands before his nation, whose wounds are still fresh and untreated; a nation whose people had been divided. Lincoln knows the state of his people. He knows the United States is like huge heart, wounded and broken, throbbing with memories of past pains. This heart-shaped map of the United States has a deep zigzagged tear running through it. Lincoln recovers a huge band-aid to cover the nation’s wound. He steps forth to mend the nation’s injuries.
He points out commonalities between the nation’s people, grounds on which they agree and stand together. He tells the people that they have all been through the war, no matter what side they were on, and to each person his wounds. However, now, as he stands lead the nation once again, everyone must stand together undivided in an attempt to “strive on to finish the work [they] are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
In the scene of the inauguration, the nation stands on mutual ground. Lincoln joins the roads from which they have all come, providing a common path on which the whole nation can gather. They stand together, in agreement that Lincoln is the man chosen to preside over the nation. He was to take the United States away from the pain of what had happened and towards the peace that heals a broken heart.