As we continue to examine primary source documents from the Realist period of American Literary history, we turn to one of the country’s most amazing Presidential writers, Abraham Lincoln.

We have discussed how a speaker’s audience, purpose and persona impact their writing and oration, as well as the way they employ rhetorical devices. In this lesson we are going to continue that examination, but also consider how these elements chance over the course of a speaker’s life. When an individual acquires new experiences, adapts their perspective to encompass more and new viewpoints, and when their persona changes – how does this affect their writing and public speaking?

Before we read Lincoln’s speeches, we’ll be looking at an article from The Smithsonian by former Presidential adviser Ted Sorensen in which he discusses Lincoln’s skill as a speech-writer and orator. 

For this assignment you will be looking at three of Lincoln’s speeches:

  • “The 2nd Inaugural Address” (given by an older Lincoln as President, in the middle of the Civil War…this speech is in your textbook).

As you read and analyze these speeches, consider the following questions: