This essay situates Abraham Lincoln’s Second Annual Message within the context of previous discourse on African colonization to illuminate the significance of the text as public policy rhetoric. I argue that Lincoln’s proposal for compensated emancipation and colonization in the Second Annual Message was the apotheosis of colonization advocacy. Lincoln’s argumentation navigated the complicated context to make a final, but failed, case for a compromise between North and South before the Final Emancipation Proclamation took effect.

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