The Gettysburg Address

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1 Taking a Close Look at. Name The Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln Pre-Reading: It is important to establish some context before reading Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln was the 16 th president of the United States of America ( ) and served his term during the American Civil War. The Civil War began in 1861 and was a result of decades of rising tensions between the southern and the northern United States. With the election of Abraham Lincoln, a known anti-slavery advocate, seven southern states immediately seceded (withdrew) from the Union. It was only months after this, in April of 1861, that the first shots of the Civil War were fired starting what was to be the bloodiest conflict ever fought on American soil. It became a war that not only divided a nation, but divided states, neighbors, and families. It was in the midst of this bloody conflict that Lincoln addressed his broken nation, hoping to inspire those on the battlefields to continue to fight for a Union he thought still worth preserving and for the remaining Americans to remember the true meaning of the Constitution. The battle at Gettysburg took place in July of 1863 and was considered one of the most important in the war, as well as a turning point for the northern troops. The three day battle at Gettysburg had the largest number of casualties of any other: the total number is believed to be around 50,000. Abraham Lincoln was at the site four months later to dedicate the plot of land to the fallen; it was later to become Soldier's National Cemetery. At the time of the speech, the civil war still raged and Lincoln knew that this dedication had to also serve as an inspiration for those still fighting. For a man that had very little formal education, Lincoln is known as one of the most famous political orators in America's history; he gave what are broadly thought of as the greatest speeches ever delivered by a politician. Of these, the Gettysburg Address is one of his most memorable and poignant. The speech is 10 sentences and 271 words, it lasted about two minutes. As you read the speech for yourself, visualize Lincoln's time and place, think about the feelings and thoughts he was trying to convey in his words as you read.

2 The Gettysburg Address Below, you will see the lines of the speech in bold words. The speech is broken into shorter segments for you to take a close look at each line, or few lines, before you read the speech in its entirety. Answer the questions after each line (s). Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Look at the opening words: four score and seven years ago. This was not a typical way to say 87 years ago, even then. Why did Lincoln choose these words? What kind of tone does he immediately set? What was it that Lincoln is asking his audience to think back to? What happened 87 years ago? Now look at the next portion, starting with our fathers... Of what is Lincoln reminding his audience? The Declaration of Independence uses the words truths and self-evident to introduce the statement that all men are created equal. Why do you think Lincoln uses the word proposition to introduce those same words? What is he suggesting? Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. Lincoln questions not only whether the nation can survive, but if any nation could survive or endure this great civil war. What impact is he trying to make?

3 We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. Lincoln does not specifically mention Gettysburg, or any of the commanders of the battle. He uses the generic terms great battlefield of that war. Why would he choose to do this? He states that those who here gave their lives so that that nation might live. What does it mean to give your life? What is he contrasting here? What does this create, or what is Lincoln's goal in doing this? But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. He starts the sentence with the word but. What does the word but usually signal in a sentence? Why does he chose to say but in a larger sense..? What signal is he giving the audience? Lincoln uses a powerful public speaking tool called triples in this sentence. What do you see that is repeated three times? Say this sentence out loud. Does the line have any rhythm, or cadence? What does the word consecrate mean? What word in the sentence is a synonym of consecrate? What emotions is Lincoln trying to evoke in this sentence?

4 The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. What does Lincoln again compare and contrast at the beginning of this sentence? What is the tone of this sentence? What mood is Lincoln trying to convey to his audience? Why? Lincoln uses two other comparisons, or parallels in the sentence. What are they? The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. Why does Lincoln uses the word world instead of United States in this sentence? What phrases are contrasting in this sentence? Lincoln uses the word we, as in what we say here. How is that different than saying what I say here? Why would he choose to use we? Why would Lincoln try and trivialize his own words? Where is he trying to shift focus? It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. What is the unfinished work Lincoln is talking about? What is this sentence asking the audience to do? How does this sentence relate to the one before it?

5 It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vainthat 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. Earlier Lincoln says we cannot dedicate the ground, what does he instead ask the audience to be dedicated to? What is Lincoln placing the most importance on? This part of the speech is full of highly motivating and inspirational words. What are some of examples of these? Why do you think he is ending his speech in an inspirational way? Lincoln uses another triple in this portion of his speech. What is it? Lincoln ends with the statement government of the people, by the people, and for the people.... What is he summing up in this line? Why would he choose to end this way?

6 Now, read the speech in its entirety: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotionthat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that 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. How many times does Lincoln use the pronoun we in his speech? Why do you think he purposefully does this instead of using the first person, I? Lincoln develops the speech by addressing the past, present and the future in the Gettysburg Address. Looking back at the speech, what examples can you site of a reference to the past, the present, and the future? How does he make connections between them? Why do you think he would do this? Many people say that the speech is more of a poem, than a speech. Cite some specific examples from the text of different poetic devices (such as consonance or alliteration, metaphor, repetition, rhyming words, etc.

7 On the day of the speech, another man named Edward Everett spoke before Lincoln. His speech was two hours long, and though was considered a good speech by those who heard it, it has been largely forgotten. After the event, Everett sent a note to Lincoln that said I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes. What did Everett mean by that? Do you agree with him? Lincoln s speech is a persuasive speech in many ways. What is his argument? Does he make a good argument for this? What are some of the persuasive techniques he uses? As the speech is regarded as one of the most famous in history, what lessons can we learn from Lincoln s speech and the style in which he gives it?

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