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Robert McNamara

Newspaper Sunday: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

By January 20, 2013

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Second inaugural addresses generally don't stand out in history, except for the speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at his second inauguration on March 4, 1865. The text is brief, about 700 words, but it is generally considered the best inaugural address ever.

Lincoln's words were well received by the crowd, which included abolitionist Frederick Douglass and journalist and poet Walt Whitman (who wrote about it in a dispatch for the New York Times). Newspapers printed the text of Lincoln's speech, and printers produced prints suitable for framing.

A year later, The Freedman's Third Reader, a book produced to help educate former slaves, included a portion of Lincoln's second inaugural. His words on slavery and the war which ended it were thus put into the hands of those most affected.

This week in Newspaper Sunday we look back to newspaper coverage of Lincoln's second inauguration.

Note: the following links lead to excerpts of newspaper articles at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress. On the excerpt pages you can click the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper.


Photograph: Detail from Alexander Gardner's photograph of Lincoln's second inaugural address/Library of Congress

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