Don't Know Much

Greatest American Speech?

Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865. He had been begun his second term a few weeks before.

On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. Just 701 words long, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address took only six or seven minutes to deliver. And yes, it is the greatest American speech.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.

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.

Source and Complete Text: The Avalon Project 


At a White House reception, President Lincoln encountered Frederick Douglass. “I saw you in the crowd today, listening to my inaugural address,” the president remarked. “How did you like it?” “Mr. Lincoln,” Douglass answered, “that was a sacred effort.” (Source: Gilder Lehman Institute of American History) 

“The Martyr of Liberty” via Library of Congress

On April 15, 1865 –weeks after he delivered that address– Lincoln died at the hand of assassin John Wilkes Booth.

(Linked resources via Library of Congress)

Don't Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

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