Lincoln's Long Game

By Andrew Delbanco, The New Republic - August 11, 2013

Four years later, the president still had Lincoln on his mind. He hosted members of Congress for a screening of Steven Spielberg’s film, and invited its screenwriter, Tony Kushner, to the White House. At his second inauguration, he quoted the greatest of inaugural addresses, in which Lincoln told the nation that the bloodbath of the Civil War, still raging as he spoke (historians have lately revised upward the estimate of battlefield deaths to three-quarters of a million), was the price demanded by God for America’s original sin of building the republic on the backs of slaves. Lincoln spoke carefully of “American slavery” rather than Southern slavery, and warned, in the phrase cited by Obama, that the price of expiation would not be met till every drop of “blood drawn by the lash” was paid in “another drawn by the sword.”

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