Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meta Analysis: The Constitution During the Civil War

Via Information Aesthetics comes this Wordle-like data visualization tool that shows the frequency with which certain words are used in a big word cloud. One thing that jumped out at me was the difference between Abraham Lincoln's first and second inaugural addresses. Here's the word cloud from his first address:

And here's the word cloud from his second address:

The thing I thought interesting was that the most prominent word in Lincoln's first address is "constitution." However, in his second address (when victory over the South was imminent but while his suspension habeas corpus was still in effect), one of the most conspicuously absent words is "constitution." I don't really know what to make of this, but I thought it was interesting for there to be such a huge change. I guess Lincoln didn't think anybody wanted to hear about the Constitution in the second address? Maybe he didn't have time? Maybe he knew in the back of his mind that suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional? Who knows...

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