In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States. At that time, the United States were about to break apart due to the issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency as a Republican was not welcomed by the Southern slave states. Those states saw the Republicans as not supportive of keeping the institution of slavery alive in the South, or even worse, as a group of abolitionists who wanted to set all the slaves free. Abraham Lincoln wanted to calm the leaders of these states and keep them from seceding from the United States, so he tried to put them at ease in his First Inaugural Address on the 4th of March. He opened his speech by attempting to reassure the South that he had no intention or constitutional authority to interfere with slavery in states where it already existed.
After his reelection in November 1864 he concentrated more on the reintegration of the South – the reconstruction. In his second Inaugural address on March 4, 1865 he directly named the cause of the war: slavery. Among his listeners were African American soldiers, the living examples of the drastic changes that had occurred within the four years of the war. For the first time in American history they had marched in the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue.