March 04, 1865
"Both Parties Deprecated War... and the War Came": Abraham Lincoln's Words, in His Own Hand, from the Second Inaugural Address
In setting out to examine the origins of “this terrible war” and its significance, Lincoln explained in the simplest terms possible the clash of unyielding and irreconcilable ideologies that brought on civil war. “Both parties deprecated war,” he declared, “but one of them would make war, rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.” At this, there was so much cheering that Lincoln had to pause before finishing the sentence: “And the war came.”
In not assigning blame, in not inciting rancor, in assuming an equality of devotion – “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God,” he reminded his listeners – Lincoln demonstrated his refusal to become The Other. The suffering wrought by the “mighty scourge of war” had come to the nation as a family, and had then, however inexplicably, to borne together. This augured well for the future – of which, disastrously, he had but forty-two days left.
Autograph Quotation Signed, as President, being a key passage from his Second Inaugural Address; 1 page, small octavo, no place or date [Washington, circa March 4, 1865]. Co-signed by Vice President ANDREW JOHNSON and written in an autograph album belonging to Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher.