Abraham Lincoln balances forgiveness for the South and affirmation of the evils of slavery in this speech as the war is about to start.
What was it?
What did it do?
He brings God into the discussion of the war, making his point through liberal use of Bible quotations. He tells people not to blame and persecute the South, but subtly blames them himself by reinforcing the notion that slavery was an evil that must be stopped, and that the terrible war was God's punishment for it.
The war would be over within a month, and Lincoln's words are in many ways the basis of his Reconstruction philosophy. The idea of reconciliation is important in it, and reconciliation's a message that might have been easy to forget after the war ended and Lincoln was assasinated not long after. Regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.