Friday, February 11, 2011

Abraham Lincoln – from "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865" and "The Gettysburg Address"

Abraham Lincoln is most notably remembered as the sixteenth president of the United States, so it is odd to consider him part of the Realism movement in American literature. Lincoln was president during the Civil War, which was also the basic time frame for the creation and duration of Realism. Also, when one thinks about it, Lincoln gave a grand multitude of speeches and addressed so many people at various gatherings, such as his first and second Inaugural Addresses and The Gettysburg Address after the bloodiest battle on American soil. His amazing speeches, instilled with reality and doubled with the feelings of guilt, were written for the common man's inspiration and to wake up the public to the problems the budding nation was going through. Exemplifying these problems is the passage from the "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865," in which Lincoln claims that the troubles in America, including slavery and the war, are at the fault of God and that they will and can not cease until God wills it to happen (Lincoln, "Second," 339). Of course, these problems are the fault of the general public because the South believes their economy will fall if slaves are free, but the North is extremely against slavery because they see how horrible it is, so a huge expansion of hate between the two sides of the nation is erupting all over the growing land. Lincoln wants to awake the population to the swelling problem by blatantly coming out with what is wrong with America, which is a Realist characteristic, and the basic society understood the problem but was too caught up in what was happening in their lives to realize what could eventually happen to their lives. The Second Inaugural Address also deals with the incorporation of God in the decision that will affect the nation forever, slavery (Lincoln, "Second," 339). He tells of the chance the country has to heal itself, but the country must make its own decisions (Lincoln, "Second," 339). Human nature comes in play here because the public is being forced to choose between what is right and what is wrong, essentially. Next, Lincoln does not include problems in the government as part of the blame in either of these speeches because he would be blaming himself for the problem, and very rarely do people make such exclamations. Language, however, is possibly the most important part of his speeches to remember because of the bold accusations he makes by blaming troubles on such a high power as God and on the public in general. In both speeches, his version of the American Dream involves achieving a country without slavery. Again, the common white man is the only one who can change anything about this large issue, and, in a heroic sense, he must relinquish his slaves and cause peace between the races. This truly is the only way to end the war because of the increasing troubles between the North and the South over this never-ending slavery debate. Lincoln's Realistic ways of delivering his speeches kicked the civilization into overdrive, creating just what was necessary to find the end to the war and slavery.

Works Cited

Lincoln, Abraham. "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 339. Print.

Lincoln, Abraham. "The Gettysburg Address." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 402. Print.

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