Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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Abraham Lincoln, although often revered as a common man, displays excellent rhetorical skill in his Second Inaugural Address in 1865. When approaching this speech he faced the challenging task of addressing the nation after one of its bloodiest and most damaging wars in its history. Lincoln’s use of rhetorical strategies such as tone, juxtaposition, and Aristotle’s three rhetorical appeals help to make his concise address into a tool that enabled America to join as one once again after the grueling war between the North and the South. Lincoln’s tone in his Second Inaugural Address is one of peace and hope. In his very first paragraph he establishes that he has a “high hope for the future.” Lincoln quite cleverly creates a tone of peace as in the second paragraph he unifies …show more content…
His use of juxtaposition helps the audience to realize the wrongness and the brutality that the Civil War represented. The first time he does this is when he starkly places war and religion side by side, something that many believe never go together. He said, “Both… pray to the same God, and each invoked His aid against the other.” He masterfully points out that it is possible that the Civil War came about “in the providence of God” and that their war may be God’s way of removing the institution of slavery. This thought-provoking comparison surely caused some Americans to rethink the circumstances that the war had put them in and the outcome that the war was coming to. Lincoln also uses juxtaposition when he compares the struggle of the African slaves in the South with the struggle of the soldiers fighting in the Civil War. He says that the war may continue “until every drop of blood drawn by the lash [is] paid by another drawn with the sword.” By comparing the two kinds of blood shed by this conflict, Abraham effectively causes his audience to realize the real cost that this war has