Tony MeiMr. Gunnink – P5AP Language and CompositionJanuary 08, 2018Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address The great national turmoil between the North and the South became a true conflict when the South seceded from this nation upon the 19th quadrennial presidential election victory going in favor of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s victory led to the immediate secession of the 7 lower states in the South, who formed the Confederacy in February 1861, before Lincoln took office.
These so-called “slave” and “free states” already portrayed the disaster that was going on in the nation. The South believed that Lincoln winning the election would mean that slavery would end. Although Lincoln was against slavery and thought it was morally wrong, he intended not to use any force to do so. Saving the Union was Lincoln’s top priority. In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he attempts to make clear that his main focus is making sure that the entire nation was protected and united and rejects any beliefs that he was removing slavery in the South by any means with force.The main point that Lincoln tries to establish over and over is to make clear to his audience that they know being in this Union means that they are protected. Lincoln tries to calm the distressed citizens of the South down and assures them that he was not going to change laws or remove slavery, and certainly not with force. He states “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.
I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” This serves to explain that Lincoln wanted to mitigate any fears from the Southerners that he was going to interfere with slavery; his goal was to unite the country and that was all. He also states “…I do suggest that it will be much safer for all…
to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity in have them held to unconstitutional.” Lincoln’s idea was to let these fugitive slave acts be “unrepealed” until they are deemed unconstitutional, meaning that this was how he was going to end slavery. He knows he can not further alienate the people of this nation by changing the law even as president.
He only has so much power and he knows that. Lincoln chooses to use a calm tone to his fellow citizens to unify the states that seceded and to join this nation back The nation will always be less perfect with a separated Union. Although Lincoln is against slavery, it does not mean that he wants to get rid of it. He just wants to make sure that the nation is fully united and not divided. He does so by abiding to the Constitution by law to establish rationality and significance throughout his speech. Doing this brings beliefs to the Union that Lincoln was right and that the secession is morally wrong and that they are straying from the Constitution by definition.
He states “it is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our National Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens have in succession administered the executive branch of the Government. They have conducted it through many perils, and generally with great success.” He brings the idea that all the presidents before him have set an outline for the perpetual nation and that he should not break that success they have leading up to him. He also makes clear that if we continue to execute all the provisions of the Constitution, the Union would endure forever, meaning that if we abide by the Constitution, we would be forever protected, secured, and united, which is Lincoln’s top priority.
He further goes on discussing and abiding to the Constitution that “one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was to form a more perfect union.” This further proves that what the South did and the secession was clearly not following the Constitution and was more or less a destruction of the Union, losing the element of perpetuity it gained after the failure of the Articles of Confederation. Both these statements made by abiding to the Constitution by definition in his speech allow his audience to think that what the South had done was clearly wrong and was not following the Constitution and that Lincoln’s focus was trying to let them know the importance of a united nation.
Abiding to the Constitution is especially important, but Lincoln also does it in a way that establishes his credibility and as a great leader to the Union. In the end of his speech, he states ” you have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it.” What he is trying to say is that the secession is the cause for the conflict going on. He lets them know that he has no choice because of the Constitution, but will do his best to preserve, protect and defend slavery, but especially the Union. This encourages the audience and the distressed citizens to trust him and believe that what he is doing is actually for the better sake of the nation and that he is not trying to remove slavery, even though he may be against it. He finally mentions that “I am loath to close.
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion have stained it must not break our bonds of affection.” This denotes that this is his last hope in bringing the Union together and hopefully they would listen and help him to preserve and reinstate the Union. Not only does this demonstrate his great leadership, but this reveals his soul as the president of the United States and what he will do in order for this country to be at its best to his audience.As we can see today, we are still divided in some way, like how we separate race on the North and Southern sides of our city of Chicago. Despite this, America has been fully united in its 50 states for decades now and this demonstrates what Lincoln was trying to do was actually very effective and protecting of our nation.