Blegen, wrote: “The habits of a a lifetime did not desert Lincoln when, at a grave moment in the nation’s life, he delivered his first inaugural address.
At the beginning of the book, Holzer asks “why is Cooper Union so little known today?” He suggests: “Perhaps its intimidating length — it is ten times longer than the Second Inaugural address, and some twenty-eight times the size of his masterpiece at Gettysburg — has discouraged recollection and analysis. So, possibly, has the fact that, stylistically, it is so completely unlike anything that Lincoln produced either before or after his New York appearance. On the one hand, it is infinitely more restrained, intricate, and statesmanlike than the stem-winding oratory with which Lincoln earned his reputation as a public speaker in the West. Yet it is also far less elegiac than the monumental speeches that he delivered once he was elected to the presidency and the Civil War began. In the Lincoln canon, it represents an altogether unique rhetorical watershed, the transforming moment separating the prairie stump speaker and the presidential orator.”4
Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address - US History
Context: By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for his second term as president on Saturday, March 4, 1865, the union was nearly restored, slavery essentially destroyed, and high hopes for a better future were widespread. Yet the short, solemn Second Inaugural Address suggest just how exhausted Americans must have felt after the terrible ordeal of their four-year Civil War. Instead of celebration, President Lincoln offered something like a sermon, turning the occasion into a sober reflection on how the conflict over slavery had erupted into an unexpectedly long, hard war, and about how astounding it was to contemplate if that had all been God’s plan. (By Matthew Pinsker)