Lincoln's 2nd Inauguration Speech: The Civil War was the “Lord’s judgement” for slavery

wilber6150

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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. :D 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.
So exactly what was Lincolns responsibility for the conflict? Getting elected in a legal election or not giving in to secessionist demands?
 
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brass napoleon

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All of those sources trace back to the original, by Ida Minerva Tarbell. And here's what Ms. Tarbell says about it:

"These notes were made immediately after an interview given me by Mr. Medill in June, 1895. They were to be corrected before publication, but Mr. Medill's death occurred before they were in type, so that the account was never seen by him."

Original source: https://books.google.com/books?id=9ljUAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149

So we have a second-hand account, told for the first time more than 30 years after the fact, and which the originator never had a chance to verify. And a statement that seems to fly in the face of other statements Lincoln is KNOWN to have made. Take it for what it's worth. (Not much, IMO).
 

dvrmte

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So exactly what was Lincolns responsibility for the conflict? Getting elected in a legal election or not giving in to secessionist demands?

Maybe he felt he didn't make any mistakes, do you think he did? The point of my post was to identify his speech as a typical American Jeremiad that was composed at that time to appeal to the secular and the sacred alike. Those Jeremiads seem to have evolved into more secular than sacred today, appealing more to a civil religion instead of a spiritual one.
 

dvrmte

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All of those sources trace back to the original, by Ida Minerva Tarbell. And here's what Ms. Tarbell says about it:

"These notes were made immediately after an interview given me by Mr. Medill in June, 1895. They were to be corrected before publication, but Mr. Medill's death occurred before they were in type, so that the account was never seen by him."

Original source: https://books.google.com/books?id=9ljUAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149

So we have a second-hand account, told for the first time more than 30 years after the fact, and which the originator never had a chance to verify. And a statement that seems to fly in the face of other statements Lincoln is KNOWN to have made. Take it for what it's worth. (Not much, IMO).

It surely doesn't "fly in the face" of what he said in his Second Inaugural.
 

brass napoleon

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It surely doesn't "fly in the face" of what he said in his Second Inaugural.

Sorry, but I just jumped into this conversation, so forgive me if I'm asking something that's been mentioned before. But exactly how does this alleged quote from Mr. Medill tie into the Second Inaugural?
 

Allie

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Maybe he felt he didn't make any mistakes, do you think he did? The point of my post was to identify his speech as a typical American Jeremiad that was composed at that time to appeal to the secular and the sacred alike. Those Jeremiads seem to have evolved into more secular than sacred today, appealing more to a civil religion instead of a spiritual one.
First of all I like your thirty-dollar word but I get the impression most people are hearing "Jeremiad" as a criticism. I agree with you, it does follow in the tradition of the American Jeremiad, and it's a good one. I think it transcends the Jeremiad, however, in that it's in no wise a call to national repentance, but a call for patient endurance of the punishment already earned for past transgressions.

The only point of argument I have with your original statement is that I disagree that Lincoln fails to show agony or tries to transfer blame. Sure, he's not "oh mea culpa" but it's clear enough that he finds the situation agonizing and as much his fault as anyone's. If God punishes the wicked, then shared punishment implies shared guilt - and no one listening thought there was a dearth of punishment, there was clearly enough to go around.
 

Sons of Liberty

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Today people get squeamish just as soon as the name of God is mentioned for fear that someone might get their feelings hurt. In Lincolns' day this was not the case. He believed in a Creator, and correctly assumed that a large percent of the population accepted this as a matter of FACT and would understand his meaning.
 

dvrmte

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First of all I like your thirty-dollar word but I get the impression most people are hearing "Jeremiad" as a criticism. I agree with you, it does follow in the tradition of the American Jeremiad, and it's a good one. I think it transcends the Jeremiad, however, in that it's in no wise a call to national repentance, but a call for patient endurance of the punishment already earned for past transgressions.

The only point of argument I have with your original statement is that I disagree that Lincoln fails to show agony or tries to transfer blame. Sure, he's not "oh mea culpa" but it's clear enough that he finds the situation agonizing and as much his fault as anyone's. If God punishes the wicked, then shared punishment implies shared guilt - and no one listening thought there was a dearth of punishment, there was clearly enough to go around.

Yes, most people take offense or get defensive when a "Jeremiad" is mentioned, I think much of that has to do with the Puritan origins of them.

I have no problem with your disagreement, as I found this letter from Lincoln that I hadn't figured in yet.

Thurlow Weed, Esq Executive Mansion,
Washington, March 15, 1865.

My dear Sir.
Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech, and on the recent Inaugeral Address. I expect the latter to wear as well as---perhaps better than---any thing I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. 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. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it. Yours truly
A. LINCOLN
 

dvrmte

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Sorry, but I just jumped into this conversation, so forgive me if I'm asking something that's been mentioned before. But exactly how does this alleged quote from Mr. Medill tie into the Second Inaugural?

The alleged quote isn't really important to my point, it was in response to Opn's post.

"It was not the responsibility of Lincoln, as with Jeremiah, to try to shift the responsibility his people's sins from the shoulders of those upon which it already justly rested."

Since, I found the letter from Lincoln to Weed, I believe that pretty much confirms that Lincoln believed the fault was with both sides, that God was on neither side.

However, I do not agree that slavery in the 1860 South, was a Biblical sin.

But that's for another topic and I'll address it when I gather enough information.
 

brass napoleon

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Since, I found the letter from Lincoln to Weed, I believe that pretty much confirms that Lincoln believed the fault was with both sides, that God was on neither side.

Indeed he did. But it's important to realize that he believed that both sides were responsible for slavery, and that slavery brought on the war.
 

18thVirginia

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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. :D 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.

Interesting, because I see the sermon as a typical South Carolinian jeremiad, part of the effort that South Carolinians waged throughout the lower South to infect the politics of other states with their views, especially toward secession.

I think we have to remember the context in which Palmer was delivering his message, in a city that was 40% German and Irish, who were mostly Catholic, where there were orders of black nuns, where the foremost group of nuns in the City had long ministered to black and indian populations. He's spreading his messages of South Carolinian Protestantism and slavery in a state where the local priests had often been close to the free black community. Traditionally, Catholic priests had been notaries in Louisiana, so free women of color transacted their legal business through the priests.

He's also delivering his South Carolina Presbyterian view of slavery in a state where black people, even slaves, had long had surnames as well as first names. Where they had been allowed to legally marry, under the laws that Louisiana Catholics had promulgated--not prohibited from it as in South Carolina. With free people of color, we have the marriages being recorded in the main church in the State, St. Louis Cathedral, with free women of color nuns accompanying them.

Rev. Palmer is speaking in a community that has had an established system of placage, where wealthy white planters entered into negotiations or contracts with free women of color to become their concubines. Wealth was often conferred upon the children resulting from the arrangement. Palmer is speaking from his South Carolina background where prominent men like James Hammond simply took their slaves as concubines and neither conferred wealth or freedom on their children, simply took them as 12 year old concubines in the case of Hammond, or sold them.

It seems important to me to recognize that Palmer and others like Leonidas Polk were trying to impose protesantism on Catholic Louisianans as part of an effort to wrest political power from the old French and Spanish interests to the newer American ones. Was a part of his speech an effort to justify slavery through religion and thus garner converts to Protestant churches in the state, as well as overcome opposition to the South Carolinian drive for secession?

I would say that Rev. Palmer is following the tradition that you claim to be handed down from the Puritans.
 
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dvrmte

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Interesting, because I see the sermon as a typical South Carolinian jeremiad, part of the effort that South Carolinians waged throughout the lower South to infect the politics of other states with their views, especially toward secession.

I think we have to remember the context in which Palmer was delivering his message, in a city that was 40% German and Irish, who were mostly Catholic, where there were orders of black nuns, where the foremost group of nuns in the City had long ministered to black and indian populations. He's spreading his messages of South Carolinian Protestantism and slavery in a state where the local priests had often been close to the free black community. Traditionally, Catholic priests had been notaries in Louisiana, so free women of color transacted their legal business through the priests.

He's also delivering his South Carolina Presbyterian view of slavery in a state where black people, even slaves, had long had surnames as well as first names. Where they had been allowed to legally marry, under the laws that Louisiana Catholics had promulgated--not prohibited from it as in South Carolina. With free people of color, we have the marriages being recorded in the main church in the State, St. Louis Cathedral, with free women of color nuns accompanying them.

Rev. Palmer is speaking in a community that has had an established system of placage, where wealthy white planters entered into negotiations or contracts with free women of color to become their concubines. Wealth was often conferred upon the children resulting from the arrangement. Palmer is speaking from his South Carolina background where prominent men like James Hammond simply took their slaves as concubines and neither conferred wealth or freedom on their children, simply took them as 12 year old concubines in the case of Hammond, or sold them.

It seems important to me to recognize that Palmer and others like Leonidas Polk were trying to impose protesantism on Catholic Louisianans as part of an effort to wrest political power from the old French and Spanish interests to the newer American ones. Was a part of his speech an effort to justify slavery through religion and thus garner converts to Protestant churches in the state, as well as overcome opposition to the South Carolinian drive for secession?

I would say that Rev. Palmer is following the tradition that you claim to be handed down from the Puritans.

First you need to look up the definition of 'Jeremiad".

Jeremiad : a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also: a cautionary or angry harangue

And Wiki's : A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in verse, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall.

A Google search for American Jeremiad:
https://www.google.com/search?q=ame...7.3832j0j4&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

My that's quite a few results wouldn't you say?

Let's do one for South Carolina Jeremiad:
https://www.google.com/search?q=ame...&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8#q=south+carolina+jeremiad

Oops! I think that came up rather empty for the period topic. Well there is one mentioned in Lacy K. Ford's, Roots of Southern Radicalism, regarding the agriculture Jeremiad of the 1840's across the South.

Palmer's isn't a Jeremiad, and all I see in the intent of your post is an appeal to modern emotions. You're also trying to generalize with the exceptional.
 

YankeeDoodle

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To me Lincoln's statement is very simple The Bible clearly says, "As you sow, so shall you reap" No need to explain further..
 
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