Thursday, January 22, 2004

Lincoln's Greatest Speech, part 1...

"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." The Civil War had been dragging on for four years. In Lincoln's Greatest Speech, Ronald White tells us that an estimated 623,000 men died in the Civil War. He compares that number with those of World War I at 117,000, World War II at 405,000, the Korean War at 54,000, and the Vietnam War at 58,000. Add the major wars of the 20th century and you have 634,000... just barely over the number killed in the Civil War. If the same ratio of casualties to population occurred in World War II over 2,500,000 men would have been killed. White believes that it was these four years of bloodshed that set the stage for Lincoln's short, and direct, address. Was it all about slavery?, cotton?, the Constitution?, secession? Who was responsible? Lincoln was about to surprise the audience with his belief. The days leading up to the inaugural had been stormy. The day of the address is was still cloudy. As Lincoln got ready to speak, White tells us, quoting a reporter on the scene, what transpired: ""Just at that moment the sun, which had been obscured all day, burst forth in its unclouded meridian splendor, and flooded the spectacle with glory and light." Lincoln prepared to speak."

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