Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. HS / ELA and Social Studies. Citizenship, Democracy, Sacrifice, Social Contract

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1 Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln HS / ELA and Social Studies Citizenship, Democracy, Sacrifice, Social Contract Ask students to consider how to comfort someone who has just lost a loved one? Make a list of things someone can say or do to try to bring peace to a grieving person. Distribute copies of the text and share some background information about the text: The Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA a few months after the Union army defeated the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln was originally slated as a secondary speaker at the event, since he was uncertain he could attend, so he was only allotted a short amount of time to speak. Ask students: Based on the background information, what do you anticipate this speech to be about? Ask students to number the sentences, and read the text aloud while underlining any unfamiliar words or phrases. 1

2 The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-known in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. Determine the definition of score together. For example, ask students to look at the first line, Four score and seven years ago... and compare this to the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, If the Gettysburg Address was delivered in 1863, a score must be 20 years. Encourage students to ask their classmates to help them determine the meanings of any additional unfamiliar words. Provide support as needed. Ask all students to write definitions on their copy of the text. While reading, ask participants to circle what they believe to be the most significant word in the text. 2

3 Of the 266 words contained in this version of the Gettysburg Address, which one do you think is most significant? (round-robin response) Why did you choose that word? What could be significant about a classmate s word choice? (spontaneous discussion) Lincoln opens the address by saying (sentence 1) that America is a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. In sentence 2, he describes the Civil War as testing whether... any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. What forces could prevent a nation dedicated to equality from surviving? Why does Lincoln say in sentence 6 that they, cannot dedicate... cannot consecrate... cannot hallow this ground, when that is precisely the purpose of the ceremony? In the aftermath of such a terrible battle, what does Lincoln encourage people to do? Lincoln begins the speech by alluding to the Declaration of Independence and concludes it by saying, this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. Is his speech invoking a return to the original, old principles of the United States, or creating new principles for future generations? Lincoln knew that if his speech were to become popular, it would be reprinted in countless newspapers across America, in both the North and South. Beyond those who were physically present at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, to whom do you think he was speaking? Lincoln closes the Gettysburg Address by challenging his audience, saying, it is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. If he were alive today, what great task do you think Lincoln would challenge us to do? In what ways could we rise to the challenge? 3

4 Have students revisit their Launch writing about comforting a grieving person. Ask them to list things they heard, said, or thought during the seminar about how Lincoln addressed those who were grieving the loss of loved ones and their countrymen. Imagining you were present at Lincoln s speech, assume one of the roles below and write a letter to a friend in which you describe Lincoln s speech and how it made you feel. Support your writing with evidence from the text. Wounded veteran of Union army Wounded veteran of Confederate army Escaped slave living in the North Mother of son killed in battle Congressman who is Lincoln s political enemy (LDC Task#: 12 ) 4

5 Students may work in pairs to figure out what the writing task is asking them to do and to analyze the options for perspectives in the writing task. How would each person feel about the Battle of Gettysburg? How would each feel about Lincoln s speech? Which line from the speech might have impacted each person the most? Discuss with students the purpose and structure of a letter. Ask students to list elements of a letter, including formal elements such as addresses and salutations and the order in which they would include them. Challenge all to create a first draft of their letters. Have students work in pairs to read and edit each other s first drafts, with emphasis on reader as creator and editor. Switch roles. Provide time for full revisions resulting in a second draft. Students should work in groups of three/four to edit one another s writing for spelling, grammar and technical/organizational elements. Include a checklist for students who need extra guidance. Give time for writers to make corrections resulting in a third and final draft. Class letters can be compiled into a collection of letters from a variety of perspectives. Consider trading the collection of letters with another high school history class or sharing them with a local group of Civil War re-enactors who may travel to Gettysburg or another battle site. Emily Satterfield R. J. Reynolds High School 5

6 The Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln, 1863 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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 these 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 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. 6

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