The Civil War framed the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Within weeks of his election in 1860 as the sixteenth American president, South Carolina seceded from the Union. The primary Confederate army surrendered on April 9, 1865, only days before Lincoln's assassination.
Lincoln lived long enough to articulate his postwar vision. In his concise and powerful second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, the president delivered this now-famous passage; "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right?let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds?to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations."
Lincoln's April 4 and 5, 1865, visit to Richmond, with his son Tad, only a day after the evacuation by the Confederate government, was remarkable for its timing and circumstances. Weary of war and worried about the country's future, he came on a potentially dangerous mission of reconciliation. Lincoln had only three conditions for the Confederacy: complete end to the war; abolition of slavery; and his words to his subordinates were "Let ?em up easy."
During his long walk into Richmond, Lincoln received a boisterous and prolonged welcome from the large population of African-Americans. In contrast, most white residents greeted the president with stony silence. Lincoln's visit produced, in the words of a prominent modern historian, "the most unforgettable scenes of this unforgettable war."