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Lincoln's Second Inauguration,
March 4, 1865

Blind memo in the hand of Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln to his cabinet members
Blind memo in the hand of Lincoln,
August 23, 1864
Manuscript Division (5.10)

Inaugural Poem
Inaugural Poem
printed on a press
in a wagon during Lincoln's inaugural parade,
March 4, 1865
Manuscript Division (6.10)

For a good part of his first term as president, Abraham Lincoln doubted that he would be elected to a second term. In a letter to his cabinet members, including Secretary of State William H. Seward and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln dwells on the forthcoming election and the long hiatus between election and inauguration. Assuming that "this administration will not be reelected," Lincoln wrote "it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration, as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save afterwards."

Lincoln was reelected, carrying 54 percent of the popular vote and all but three northern states -- New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky. The president delivered his second inaugural address from the east portico of the Capitol with its newly completed iron dome on March 4, 1865. The power of its sentiment is deepened by its conciseness and brevity, particularly when read in counterpoint with Lincoln's first address. In his second address he concludes:

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
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