Lincoln’s assassination and the legacy of violence

ConspiratorsJonathan W. White at The American Scholar:

When on March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address from the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol, the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on him as he called for “malice toward none” and “charity for all.” Lincoln hoped for reconciliation between North and South, asking American citizens “to bind up the nation’s wounds” and to “achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace.”

A few weeks later, when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, cannons boomed in celebration throughout the Union. Four long years of killing and dying were over, and northerners rejoiced at the long-awaited triumph. Many of them welcomed Lincoln’s call for reconciliation. “The hour of victory is always the hour for clemency,” editorialized The New York Times, while Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune headlined “Magnanimity in Triumph” and Henry Ward Beecher preached a sermon in Brooklyn entitled “Love Your Neighbor, the Nation’s Motto.” From ordinary Americans up to the highest councils of the nation, northerners appeared ready to reunite with the South in the spirit of brotherhood. Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward remembered that the discussion at Lincoln’s final cabinet meeting was focused on “kindly feelings toward the vanquished.”

more here.