Abraham Lincoln set the stage for rebuilding the Union in his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. Congress had just passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, and the Confederate Army was nearing its decision to surrender.
For a nation fragile from almost four years of fighting, Lincoln spoke of a cautious vision for his second term and bringing an end to the Civil War.
“With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured,” he said.
That year, African-Americans participated in the inaugural parade for the first time.
And just more than a month before his assassination on April 14, he spoke of forgiveness (in these words now inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial):
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”