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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Religious Rhetoric of Honest Abe

Many scholars have commented on Abraham Lincoln's rhetorical gifts. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address is regarded by some as the greatest speech in U.S. History (with the Gettysburg Address coming in a close second). One of Lincoln's gifts was his ability to draw on biblical texts, allusions, and imagery in crafting his speeches, as well as a cadence similar to what one finds in the King James version of the Bible.

Lincoln's religious rhetoric is the subject of a recent (and quite excellent) Research on Religion podcast ("Daniel Dreisbach on Abe Lincoln’s Religious Rhetoric"), which features Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, who is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. Among his published works include Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State, Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (co-editor), and The Sacred Rights of Conscience (co-editor). Dr Dreisbach has also penned a short article on Lincoln's Second Inaugural, which covers some of the same ground as the podcast ("Lincoln’s 700 Words of Biblical Meditation") (the article's word count is higher than Lincoln's Second Inaugural).

Note: Research on Religion host Tony Gill "is well aware of his odd pronunciations of 'rhetoric' and 'address' and was surprised at how 'ploughboy' he sounded when reviewing the tape.

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