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Unrecorded Broadside of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (SOLD)
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“With malice toward none, with charity for all”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Broadside, “Inauguration of President Lincoln, March 4th, 1865.” [ca. March 4, 1865]. 10 7/8 x 13½ in.

Inventory #22093       SOLD — please inquire about other items

This unique broadside prefaces the president’s address with a description of the inaugural ceremony and an assessment of the speech: “brief, confident, firm, kind, and God-acknowledging words.” The latter phrasing suggests that the printing may have been made on behalf of a religious organization. The publisher, who clearly hailed from a Union state, is unknown. We locate no other copies of this elegant broadside. Lincoln’s determined yet compassionate words continue to inspire Americans a century and a half after they were first delivered.


“The Military and Civic procession which escorted the President elect, reached the capitol at a quarter before twelve. Vice President Johnson took the oath of office at noon. Abraham Lincoln was soon announced. The President delivered his Inaugural Address on the eastern portico in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators, after which Chief Justice Chase administered the oath. The following are the President’s brief, confident, firm, kind, and God-acknowledging words:

Fellow Countrymen: 

… 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 located in the Southern part of it. These slaves contributed a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war… Neither party expected the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease, 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 man 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…

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 orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Historical Background

Delivered in a driving rain on the steps of the newly-completed Capitol, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural is one of the president’s greatest addresses; many consider it one of the most powerful and eloquent speeches in American history.

Following his second inaugural, Lincoln wrote that he expected his address “to wear as well as—perhaps better than—any thing I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular.” He explained, “Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world.” Where Lincoln's original draft of the Gettysburg Address contains no direct reference to God, his Second Inaugural Address offers a four-paragraph reflection on theodicy: specifically, American slavery in the providence of God. The address shows the extent to which Lincoln sees the reason and religion of men fall short in averting civil war. In a telling demonstration of pious statesmanship, Lincoln ironically uses both reason and religion to deliver the lesson (Review of Tackach’s Lincoln’s Moral Vision, The Claremont Institute).

The closing passage of the speech reveals the president’s vision for a national Reconstruction founded on compassion and reconciliation. Lincoln would not live to see his policy carried out; he was felled by an assassin’s bullet little more than a month after the inauguration. His immortal words of healing and hope, though, live on – engraved on the limestone walls of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.