On this day in 1865, in one of the greatest inaugural addresses in American history, Abraham Lincoln, beginning his second term as president, spoke at a time of triumph: The Civil War was winding down and slavery receding into the history books. Yet Lincoln, filled with sadness and reflection, spoke not of victory, but of the damage that had been done to the country. He reminded both victor and vanquished that both sides had erred in going to war, despite their bitter disagreement over the war’s central issue, slavery.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all,” Lincoln said, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
The address is inscribed, along with his Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In 2012 Peter Hitchens described the address as “one of the most overwhelming pieces of political prose ever crafted in any language.”
Lincoln had no way of knowing, of course, that in the crowd that day was the actor John Wilkes Booth — who would assassinate the president just six weeks later.
Here’s what else happened on this day in history