Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Apr 1, 2009
So exactly what was Lincolns responsibility for the conflict? Getting elected in a legal election or not giving in to secessionist demands?I see the Address as a typical American jeremiad, a rhetorical device serving to call a 'chosen people' back to the path of righteousness. The American jeremiad has been used by American leaders from John Winthrop and Increase Mather, extending all the way to Glen Beck. What makes it uniquely American is its connection to a larger, sacred story intimately tied to the nation's origin and development. So the American jeremiad appeals to both the secular and the sacred, because it is composed of both.
Lincoln shows no anguish over his own responsibility for the conflict so it could also be seen as means of shifting any blame from his shoulders onto those of a higher power. Or it could be seen as a means of shifting all of the burden of blame, North and South, to those of a higher power as a first step towards reconciliation.