Abraham Lincoln sat listening

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1 God s World News Biographies War of Words sat listening to the long speech by Senator Everett. The senator spoke for over two hours! Would he never end? It was a cloudy late- November day in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The crowd was there to dedicate a new cemetery to the thousands of soldiers who had died just a few months before. President Lincoln wondered if it would rain before he had time to give his short speech. He looked down in his lap as Senator Everett talked on. Would anyone even pay attention? Just ten sentences written on the back of an envelope. How could that be enough to inspire the American people? Would those few words encourage America to work together to rebuild the nation at the end of a terrible Civil War? Suddenly there was applause. The Senator nodded to the people. He was done. As always, he gave a good speech. The president stood nervously and walked to the platform. The crowd grew silent as he approached the podium. He spoke for just two minutes in his powerful Kentucky voice. No one stirred. But in just two minutes, President delivered one of the most powerful speeches recorded in American history The Gettysburg Address. As a boy, Abe loved to read. But books were scarce in his day. Photograph of He read some books over and over. The Bible, Pilgrim s Progress, and Benjamin Franklin s autobiography were some of his favorites. Through this reading, he learned the power of words. As he grew, he read more. He rarely attended school but taught himself enough to become a lawyer. The powerful ideas he learned from his reading helped him to win most of his court cases. But the lessons did not stop there. In 1834, at only 25 years old, he was elected to the Illinois State House of Representatives. There he learned to speak well. Few men could argue against him and win. Of course, it also helped that he was six feet four inches tall. He was a hard man to ignore! In 1846, he became a congressman for the state of Illinois. While in Washington, Lincoln shared his position that slavery should end. But the United States was divided on that issue. Some believed slaves were property with no human rights. Some believed individual states should make most decisions, not the federal government. Mr. Lincoln disagreed. He believed the Constitution guaranteed all men freedom. After two years in Washington, he returned to Illinois. Back home, Lincoln continued to study and learn. After many years, the Republicans asked Lincoln to run for president. He did not think he could win. But he knew that the things he believed about freedom were right. He did win. In 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. Just four months later, the bloodiest war in American history began. Many Southerners believed that Lincoln wanted to take away their rights. They felt the Constitution gave more power to states. Lincoln In That Day 1810 Beethoven composes his famous piano piece, Für Elise The world s first modern railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, opens in England Slavery is abolished in the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act The saxophone is patented by Adolphe Sax Nathaniel Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter is published.

2 Photograph of Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and General John A. McClernand believed that the federal government must have more power where human rights were concerned. During the war, the President often wondered if he could keep the nation together. He argued with his own generals and admirals. He felt many times that he was attacked by all sides. He was often depressed. Then came Gettysburg. The bloodiest battle of all. Thousands were killed, wounded, or captured. Just a few months after that Bible2Life battle, Lincoln stood on that same battlefield, on a lonely platform, surrounded by thousands. He had just finished his speech. The crowd was quiet. Perhaps they were shocked by how brief the speech was. At first, Lincoln thought he had failed. But the next day, Senator Everett told him it was the finest speech he had ever heard. Before long, papers began to reprint his words. Soon it became the most quoted speech in American history. A few months later, in 1864, Lincoln was re-elected President. He was 56 years old, but he looked older. The war had been hard on him. Soon after, Lincoln wrote his second inaugural address. Some believe it is even better than the Gettysburg Address. In this speech, Lincoln encouraged the whole nation to join together to heal. He asked everyone to forgive and to take care of the widows and war orphans. He asked for peace. Sadly, the President was assassinated just a few weeks after this famous speech. But because of More About... Abe Lincoln was born in a small log cabin in 1809 in Kentucky. His family was poor. As a frontier boy, Abe had to work hard. Any money he earned as a young man went to his family to help support it. He learned to split fence posts, plow fields, and milk cows. His mother died when he was only nine, but his father soon remarried. There were three younger siblings to help raise. Though he died at 56 before completing his second term in office, Lincoln was able to accomplish many things in his life. But along the way, he also failed many times. His life shows us the value of determination, vision, and hard work. By 23, he was a store owner. By 25, he was an Illinois State Congressman. By 27, he was a lawyer. By 37, he was a U.S. Congressman. By 51, he was President. his powerful words and ideas, the United States remained one country. As he hoped at Gettysburg, this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth. Roy McGinnis President Lincoln used many scriptures from the Bible to write his second inaugural speech. In the last part of the speech, he refers to Matthew 7 in which Jesus says, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Lincoln was encouraging everyone to forgive one another and not hold a grudge about the war. Later in the speech, he quoted from Psalm 19:9: The judgments of the Lord are righteous altogether. (KJV) He was trying to explain why God might have allowed such a war to happen. Almost everyone listening to the President s speech would know that these words were from the Bible. Lincoln knew that God s word is living and active; sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Even though many people credit Lincoln as an intelligent president, he knew that only God could save the Union. He used scripture often because he understood that God s word can help us understand many things even something as terrible as a civil war. God s World News Biographies, 2

3 Quiz Check your reading. Check your thinking. 1 The Gettysburg Address was long. a) 2 hours, b) 2 minutes, c) 5 minutes, d) 1 hour 2 Lincoln received most of his education through. a) school, b) his mother, c) reading 3 Lincoln was a US. Congressman by the time he was. a) 23, b) 25, c) 27, d) 37, e)51 4 Lincoln believed the should have more power in regard to human rights. a) president, b) state governments, c) federal government 5... In the Gettysburg Address Lincoln said, this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. What do you think he meant by that? God s World News Biographies, 3

4 Puzzling Times Use the clues to fill in the crossword Across 3. Place where Lincoln gave his famous address. 4. State Lincoln was born in. 7. Lincoln believed this practice was wrong. 10. The law of the United States established in Liberation from the power of another. 12. Large group of people living in a country, united by common values. 13. Lincoln taught himself enough to become a. Down 1. System or body that conducts the policies and affairs of a nation. 2. Title given to the leader of the United States 5. Address delivered to an audience. 6. State Lincoln was elected in twice. 8. Place where two armies fight each other. 9. The War Between the States God s World News Biographies, 4

5 Key Page Quiz: 1) b, 2) c, 3) d, 4) c 5) Students may mention the ending of slavery and new freedom for the slaves or the reuniting of the North and the South. Puzzling Times Key: God s World News Biographies, 5

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