Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1809-1865) President of the United States at the time of the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). Important in the study of American religion primarily for his two inaugural addresses and particularly his battlefield speech "The Gettysburg Address." In the latter, Lincoln reinterpreted the meaning of the Civil War and in the process permanently reshaped American civil religion. Although never referring explicitly to Christianity, Lincoln drew implicitly on Christian religious imagery in a way that instilled meaning into the Civil War's vast death and destruction by linking it to a rebirth of freedom and equality in American life and the world.

Richard L. Wood


R. N. Bellah, "Civil Religion in America," Daedalus 96(1967):1-21

G. Fox, Abraham Lincoln's Religion (New York: Exposition Press, 1959)

A. Nevins, Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964)

G. Thurow, Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion (Albany: SUNY Press, 1976)

G. Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992)

W. J. Wolf, The Almost Chosen People (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959).

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