Abstract

Must acts of identification via an inclusive “we” mystify the inequalities they are meant to transcend? One answer lies in this essay's reading of Abraham Lincoln's and Kenneth Burke's rhetoric, a reading that tracks (especially through Lincoln's rhetoric) the “ways of identification,” ways which Burke claimed “are in accordance with the nature of property.” Identification in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address confirms much of Burke's theory, yet Lincoln's career of appeals to the connections between property and propriety—and in particular the specific identifications made by such appeals in the Second Inaugural—suggests that Burke's presentation of identification is itself a kind of mystification that can lead to under-reading the ways of identification.

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