Chapter 1. tset

1.1 Section Title



The Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln

1. Biographical note.

Photo of Abraham Lincoln Born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, in 1809, Abraham Lincoln grew up on what was our country’s western frontier in Kentucky and Indiana. Largely self-educated, he went on to become a successful politician and lawyer. Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. In the midst of the bitter ongoing Civil War, Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

John Parrot/Stocktrek Images/
Getty Images

2. Publication

With the possible exception of the Declaration of Independence, no document of American history is as famous as this speech dedicating the national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield on November 19, 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the rolling countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania during the first three days of July 1863. We now know that it was the turning point of the American

Civil War, leading to the emancipation of slaves.

3. Rhetorical

Since Lincoln delivered this speech, millions of Americans have memorized it, and countless others have quoted it or imitated its rhetoric for various purposes. As you read, look again at the familiar words with their original context in mind to see how they served Lincoln’s purpose, his sense of the occasion, and his larger sense of the nation’s history and destiny. Pay particular attention to the tone he uses to appeal to his audience.

Reflecting on What You Know

Writing prompt

What have you heard or read about the Gettysburg Address? Do you think it is an important speech? Why? Do speeches, especially political speeches, ever change things? Can they affect the way people think, feel, and act? Explain.

echoes "Dec-
laration of
Independence "

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.

of "con-
ceived" and

of solemn

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 battle-field 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" shifts
focus to
soldiers who
fought at

feels spiritual

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.


Reminds "the
living" of work
to be done

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 —

Parallel con-

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.