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Lincoln's Inaugural Address
Lincoln's 1861 Inaugural Address

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Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration
March 4, 1861

For guidance and inspiration while composing his inaugural address, Lincoln turned to historical documents. All of them were concerned with states' rights. Lincoln took office just months after seven Southern states had seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy opposed the new leader's policy against the expansion of slavery to new states and had exercised what they viewed as their right to secede.

Lincoln sent drafts of his speech to his closest political advisers for feedback. William H. Seward, the future secretary of state, contributed ideas to several of the final passages, including the famous conclusion, "The mystic chords of memory . . . will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

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