1. No end to the war in sight.
2. The purpose for the war has changed.
3. The President’s ratings at a low.
4. Democrats opposed to the President’s policies gain in Congress.
5. Willingness to “stay the course” in doubt.
6. Freedom the last, best hope on earth.
From the December 1 “The Writer’s Almanac”:
It was on this day in 1862 that Abraham Lincoln gave the State of the Union address at one of the lowest points of his presidency. An end to the Civil War was nowhere in sight. Just 10 weeks before, Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation, turning the war into a war about slavery rather than just states’ rights. But in the recent election, anti-Lincoln Democrats had made big gains in the Congress. Many people saw that as a sign that the North didn’t want to fight to free the slaves.
Instead of expressing doubts in his speech, Lincoln argued that freeing the slaves was necessary to ensure that America live up to its own ideals. In his speech, on this day in 1862, Lincoln said, “The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. … We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.”