Without Further Comment

Fellow-countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it—all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

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. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

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.

28 comments… add one

  • Drew

    I’m not sure what the motivation was for publishing Lincoln’s second. In any event, thank you for putting in stark relief, the somewhat trite and wholly partisan nature of yesterdays’ address, and highlighting how clownish MSM commentary has become.

  • sam

    Why don’t you go back and look at some of the press coverage of the Gettysburg Address, Drew.

  • Drew

    Please, sam. The issues of Lincoln’s day were fundamental and profound, dealing with freedom and basic human dignity and rights, with potential effects on the very survival of a country. You and the MSM can wash Obama’s feet if you like, but his was a crass partisan call to continue to hand out candy, despite fundamental financial issues which may result in calamity. It was small ball by, in Presidential standards, a small man.

    BTW – a good current read: Seward.

  • jan

    My husband has been reading the book ‘Killing Lincoln.’ So, our conversations, of late, have been peppered with comments and reflections about this former president, as well as the Civil War.

    There has also been the parallel efforts of Obama to tie himself and his own presidency with this former leader. And, IMO, there is less of a comparison to be made than a contrast. In this 2nd Inaugural rendering Lincoln addressed the troubling issues burdening people’s minds, following such a devastating and divisive war, as well as the mutual challenges facing the nation ahead. Lincoln’s wording was sad, in recognizing the painful past of slavery and war; humble in not making himself the centerpiece of the speech (only one ‘I’) and invoking God’s name for guidance; conciliatory in excluding blame of others, instead focusing on the task at hand of bringing two frayed, exhausted edges together.

    Reading Lincoln’s address reminded me of the cameo of Grant and Lee coming together to end the war. The terms agreed upon were not grandiose, simply being: “Put down your guns, go home, and let’s rebuild the nation together.”

    Obama’s address, however, was soaring, combative, full of himself, had continuing references to social issues rather than ones, enumerated, over and over again, as being major concerns of the people — jobs, the economy, the debt/deficit, and the dysfunctional leadership in DC.

    Basically, great speeches fold all people into it, with magnanimous goals directed to the common good, rather than one primarily voicing self-interest or one-sided empowerment. Lincoln’s address had the flavor of the former, while Obama’s was heavily weighted with the former, giving it a big thud, IMO.

  • Drew

    jan

    How many times have I said it? The man has not one leadership bone in his body.

  • jan

    correction: while Obama’s was heavily weighted with the latter, giving it a big thud, IMO.

  • jan

    Drew

    You and I agree on that one. For me yesterday was a day of mourning, not celebration, for this reelected president to only extend the damage already done.

  • Icepick

    There has also been the parallel efforts of Obama to tie himself and his own presidency with this former leader.

    It’s because he and the other Dems fantasize about killing their opponents by the hundreds of thousands.

  • I think you’re being a bit hard on the president. While I agree that the speech was more like a State of the Union than an inaugural address I found it studiedly communitarian rather than self-aggrandizing. “We” replaced the “I” that has been such a feature of the president’s speeches. I thought it was unnecessarily partisan in tone but I guess that’s a matter of taste.

    Mostly I just think that Lincoln’s Second Inaugural is a very hard act to follow and I’ll leave it at that.

  • Icepick

    “We” replaced the “I” that has been such a feature of the president’s speeches.

    Are you certain he hasn’t just switched the royal “we”?

    As for being hard on God-Emperor Obama, why not? He’s telling me that He’s done such a great job that we need to support Him in imperial style, while I should be happy to just scrape by. The important thing is that he and Michelle and their chosen few get to live the high life at the expense of everyone else.

  • jan

    You may be right about the notable self-restraint of ‘I’ in this speech. However, the excerpts I heard reeked of partisanship, with an agenda heavily stressing issues such as gay rights and global warming, rather than our more urgent ones of economic growth or world problems, such as terrorism spreading in Africa.

    After all, the campaign is officially over. Now is the time for unification and leadership. Consequently an inaugural speech should encircle the needs/desires of an entire nation, not just one party. There are people who voted for him, as well as those who didn’t — all listening to the trajectory of his message and how tinged it is with partisan or bipartisan overtones. I personally don’t think Obama embraced many, if any, common-sense views to fiscally reconstruct our country or heal wounds of divisiveness, that were accentuated by his reelection campaign — like Lincoln attempted to do with the introductory remarks of his 2nd term. In fact, it seems to me that Obama is more hell-bent on continuing a partisan, ideological civil war, in Washington, than he is on getting beyond it — for the good of the country.

  • jan

    Michael Gerson makes some cogent inaugural points in his WaPo opinion piece:Obama shoves idealism into it’s grave.

    Gerson makes a striking Lincoln/Washington/Obama presidential contrast:

    For Abraham Lincoln, even the gravest national crimes involved shared fault. For Obama, even the most commonplace policy disagreements indicate the bad faith of his opponents. In his first inaugural address, George Washington described the “sacred fire of liberty.” In his second, Obama constructed a raging bonfire of straw men.

  • Drew

    “Mostly I just think that Lincoln’s Second Inaugural is a very hard act to follow and I’ll leave it at that.”

    You know, Dave, you, I think, are by basic temperment more conciliatory than I. Perhaps that is the better path. But I live in a pretty rough and tumble world. A world filled with Type A, godzilla-like, people in charge of companies, financing companies, growing and competing with other companies, dealing with troubled companies, selling companies, dealing with those outside agencies who would impeed progress and so on. It may make me a cynic.

    My formative career years were in a steel mill. I once was almost killed. There were people there who wanted us dead. (thats NOT overstated: read, the union guys) But they haven’t killed me yet, despite all attempts. And I’m not about to let my guard down. A former partner used to quip “I can’t watch a football game because I know those guys in the huddle are talking about me.” Alternatively, I once watched a Sugar Ray Leonard interview during which his sweet and pretty wife was commenting about the upcoming fight with Marvin Hagler and she said “I don’t think he’s such a bad guy.” SRL looked at her incredulously and said “do you know that man is going to literally try to take my head off right from my neck?”

    We ain’t in Kansas anymore. I not only think Obama is an incompetant executive, I now question his motives. Did anyone hear about the unemployed yesterday?

    That’s correct. You didn’t.

  • Drew

    PS

    I SO wanted to say what Verdon did. But this is the new and improved 2012 Drew. Oh, to hell with it. Obama is just another garden variety know nothing punk politician who’s terrific at his craft, but all about himself, incompetant to deal with real issues, and a true menace to society because he has no such talent. Fuck you, Obammy.

    There, I feel better.

  • You know, Dave, you, I think, are by basic temperment more conciliatory than I.

    Not basic temperament. Training. My basic temperament is to tear people to shreds with my bare hands.

  • Drew

    “Not basic temperament. Training. My basic temperament is to tear people to shreds with my bare hands.”

    That’s good. Now you’ve got me laughing. Bravo.

  • jan

    My basic temperament is to tear people to shreds with my bare hands.

    Your writing hides said tendency well, Dave. :)

    BTW, I am vicariously enjoying the Obama vitriol of Steve V. and Drew. It’s very cathartic.

  • It isn’t just Obama Jan. Both parties are disgustingly “tough on crime” and it leads to passages like this:

    The police in Miami had received a tip from an informant that Brown, who had no criminal record, was selling drugs from his small apartment. So they sent the SWAT team. The police claimed at the time that Brown began firing at them as soon as they entered his home. So they fired back.

    And they fired back.

    And they fired back.

    By the time they were finished, they had pumped 123 rounds into Richard Brown’s apartment—nine of them into Richard Brown. One Miami SWAT officer also mistakenly shot one of his colleagues in the back.

    The police never found any drugs. They did find something else, which they weren’t expecting: Brown’s 14-year-old great-granddaughter Janeka, whom he had raised. They found her cowering in the bathroom. When the raid began, Brown had told the girl to take the phone into the bathroom, to call the police, and to wait until it was safe. So she waited, prayed, and trembled as bullets dug into the walls around her. When she finally came out, she saw the bloodied body of the man who had adopted and raised her slouched in his bedroom closet.

    But hey, drugs should be illegal and guns are bad…unless the cops have them.

  • steve

    Best of the inauguration speeches. It clearly lays out slavery as the evil that it was, probably viewed as highly partisan and divisive by the South, but he was right in not ducking the issue. Yet, after making clear the sins of the South, he suggests forgiveness and an attempt to make us all whole. No policy suggestions, no specifics, just lays out a vision.

    Steve

  • Icepick

    But this is the new and improved 2012 Drew.

    Yeah, but it’s 2013.

    But hey, drugs should be illegal and guns are bad…unless the cops have them.

    Steve V., these are two separate issues. We’ve had the police shooting up the place in Central Florida for reasons as varied as stopping fleeing criminals, shooting the wrong man because he was trying to protect himself from strangers in the middle of the night and ????. Drugs may give the police more opportunities, but that’s all. The fact is that they sent a SWAT team to the home of a great-grandfather with no known criminal record. Whether they went for drugs, stolen goods or because the neighbors were complaining about all that damned racket from those Duke Ellington records is besides the point.

    Increasingly I think the police ought to be very few in number. Instead require all law-abiding citizens to own firearms. (What the Hell, the government can mandate that people buy anything these days, correct?) We won’t require that they carry them, or even keep them assembled and loaded, just that citizens own them and know how to use them. Restrict the police to a few actual Sheriff-types and the technicians. After that, whenever more man power is needed just assemble a posse. Put law & order back in the hands of citizens.

  • Icepick

    “Not basic temperament. Training. My basic temperament is to tear people to shreds with my bare hands.”

    That’s good. Now you’ve got me laughing. Bravo.

    Why do you think he hasn’t banned me? I’m his monster from the id.

  • Icepick

    Steve V., firearms should only be allowed in the hands of the police. Only then can we be safe.

    OTOH, no one should be allowed access to Sesame Street songs…. (You guys can look up that second story yourselves.)

  • Steve V., these are two separate issues.

    I disagree. SWAT teams are used in serving drug warrants so as to preserve evidence from being destroyed. If drugs were not illegal we would, in theory, see a drop in SWAT raids and the attendant violence at least for a period of time till police departments found some other reason to justify sending SWAT teams to the homes of non-criminals.

  • Icepick

    Okay, Steve V., you are being naive. SWAT teams get used in these raids to justify their budgets. If all drugs were legalized tomorrow the police would just find a different reason to use their SWAT teams. Because they’re sure not giving up all the cool toys and the budget them comes with them.

  • ….at least for a period of time till police departments found some other reason to justify sending SWAT teams to the homes of non-criminals.

    Not empty quoting…..

  • Simply put, here’s the difference. In Lincoln’s second inaugural, he sought to unite the nation, heal it’s difference, bind up its wounds.

    Barack Obama’s purpose was exactly the opposite.

    He is a disgrace to his office and his Oath.

  • jan

    Rob,

    Obama’s legacy will be that “he was a two-term president in campaign mode 24/7.” Currently, his major objective is to divide and antagonize Congressional republicans, weakening them enough that the dems have a shot at winning the House in 2014, giving the dems an unobstructed path in having their way with this country.

    Healing and uniting the country are not in the play book of a consummate ideologue such as Obama.

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