How does Lincoln commemorate the fallen soldiers? What does he ask of his audienceat Gettysburg?2. Why, in your opinion, is the Gettysburg Address such a highly regarded speech? Whatturns of phrase do you find particularly memorable?
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Excerpt: Abraham Lincoln, \”The Gettysburg Address\” 1863By June of 1863, the confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee hadcrossed into Union territory, moving up the Shenandoah Valley into Maryland and thenPennsylvania. The Union Army of the Potomac, commanded first by Joseph Hooker andthen by George C. Meade, also moved north, parallel with the Confederates\’ movement,staying between Lee and Washington. The two armies finally encountered one another atthe small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There, on July 1-3, 1863, they fought themost celebrated battle of the war.Meade\’s army established a strong, well-protected position on the hills south of the town.The confident and combative Lee attacked, even though his army was outnumbered75,000 to 90,000. His first assault on the Union forces on Cemetery Ridge failed. A daylater he ordered a second, larger effort. In what is remembered as Pickett\’s Charge, aforce of 15,000 Confederate soldiers advanced for almost a mile across open countrywhile being swept by Union fire. Only about 5,000 made it up the ridge, and this remnantfinally had to surrender or retreat. By now Lee had lost nearly a third of his army. OnJuly 4, the same day as the surrender of Vicksburg, he withdrew from Gettysburg -another major turning point in the war. Never again were the weakened Confederateforces able to seriously threaten Northern territory.Several months later, on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln visited the battlefield aspart of the dedication of the Soldiers\’ National Cemetery there. After a two-hour speechby famed orator Edward Everett, Lincoln walked to the podium and delivered his nowfamous 272-word address in only a few minutes. (Said Everett in a note to the presidentthe following day, \”I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near thecentral idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.\”)Memorized by schoolchildren for generations, Abraham Lincoln\’s succinct and eloquentGettysburg Address is remembered as one of the finest expressions of national purpose inAmerican history, and arguably the precise rhetorical moment when the United States ofAmerica became permanently reconceived as one nation. \”In his brief time before thecrowd at Gettysburg,\” wrote historian Garry Wills, Lincoln \”wove a spell that has not,yet, been broken – he called up a new nation out of the blood and trauma.\”Questions:1. How does Lincoln commemorate the fallen soldiers? What does he ask of his audienceat Gettysburg?2. Why, in your opinion, is the Gettysburg Address such a highly regarded speech? Whatturns of phrase do you find particularly memorable?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 soconceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of thatwar. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for thosewho here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper thatwe 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, farabove our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long rememberwhat 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 sonobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining beforeus — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for whichthey gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these deadshall 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 fromthe earth.
[Source: Abraham Lincoln, \”The Gettysburg Address\” (1863). Reprinted at the Library ofCongress (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gadd/)]