He gives to both north and south this terrible war as

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responsibility for the great war and the horrific loss of life.‘‘He gives to both Northand South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came . . .’’Not southern slavery but‘‘American slavery’’gave great offense to the divine will. ToCongress Lincoln had made an argument along similar lines in his 1862 AnnualMessage in defense of his compensated emancipation scheme; both sides had a bill topay for the national sin. Now in 1865 with the war almost over, the president againspoke only in terms of a collective American future.With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives usto see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nationswounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and hisorphan*to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, amongourselves, and with all nations.68P.S. Field
Only weeks later while attending the theater with his wife on the evening of GoodFriday, Lincoln was shot point blank in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth.He never recovered consciousness. Early in the morning of April 15 the presidentdied from his wound. His single disjunction in the Gettysburg Address between‘‘usthe living’’and the unfortunate dead in an instant had become moot. AbrahamLincoln now had joined the brave soldiers buried at Gettysburg who‘‘gave the last fullmeasure of devotion’’to the Union.The outpouring of emotion following Appomattox and the tragic assassination ofthe President ensured Lincolns elevation to martyr status. He quickly became theAmerican Moses, the Great Emancipator denied entrance to the promised land. Sosuddenly‘‘a man for the ages,’’as Edwin Stanton put it in the early morning hours of15 April 1865, Lincolns peculiar, singular style of leadership has been necessarilyobscured by his tragic exit. This study seeks to recover some key aspects of Lincolnianleadership by detailingLincolnschoice of pronouns. His frequent,fascinatingemployment of the first-person plural represents a novel, meaningful, and self-conscious masterstroke in leadership. The core of his political ethos hinged onsubstituting the plural pronoun for the singular, a substitution that encapsulated hisprofoundest, instinctual convictions. Lincoln eschewed taking personal credit forpolitical successes and believed himself never to be the primary agent of change.94Informed by an expansive, optimistic vision of the inherent soundness of thejudgment of his fellow citizens, Lincoln elaborated a highly democratic under-standing of representative leadership. Indeed, embedded in Lincolns‘‘wes’’is a set ofdeeply held beliefs about American history and the collective nature of the polity andits people. His repeated, inventive use of the first-person plural reflected both hissense of genuine identity with so much of America, South and North, as well as hisbroader sense of American unity. Perhaps more than any antebellum leader, Lincoln

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