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Twilight of the RepublicEmpire and Exceptionalism in the American Political Tradition$
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Justin B. Litke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813142203

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813142203.001.0001

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

An Ideally United, Potentially Unbound Union

(p.85) 4 Abraham Lincoln
Twilight of the Republic

Justin B. Litke

University Press of Kentucky

Faced with the unprecedented disunion of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln mustered equally unprecedented means to move the country back toward reconciliation. The manner in which he accomplished this is no longer seen as novel because of its basically absolute success. True legal or political reconciliation would have required a long process with little hope of positive results, but if the reunion were to be performed merely by common adherence to an idea, then the feat could be done more easily. This is what Lincoln accomplished, and the ramifications of the change would not be felt for more than a generation. In close readings of Lincolns most famous speeches and phrases, a more uneven, and more human, picture of the man as a politician emerges.

Keywords:   Abraham Lincoln, “almost chosen people”, “last best hope of earth”, first inaugural address, Gettysburg Address, second inaugural address, America as an idea, Declaration of Independence

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