From The Gettysburg Battlefield To The Appomattox Courthouse


Alexander Gardner. Abraham Lincoln delivering second inaugural address, 4 March 1865. Photograph.

This Alexander Gardner photograph shows President Lincoln delivering his second inaugural address on the east portico of the Capitol.  Along with the Gettysburg Address, the second inaugural is considered to be one of Lincoln’s finest speeches.  With the war winding down and defeat of the Confederate armies all but certain, Lincoln could have chosen to deliver an address that celebrated victory over a soon-to-be vanquished enemy.  Instead, the President chose humility over self-righteousness and delivered a speech that was at first solemn then conciliatory in tone, calling on the nation to heal the wounds of war and reconcile its differences.  In the audience that 4 March day was the actor John Wilkes Booth, who was at the time plotting to kidnap the President.

Lincoln Collection   Source unknown.