The Message Of The Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg address was delivered on Thursday 19th November 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the soldiers’ national cemetery in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.  This is the most famous and most quoted speech in the United States history.  In ten sentences and two hundred and seventy two words, President Lincoln spoke of the principles of human freedom and redefined the civil war as a struggle that was broader than just the preservation of the union. It was a fight for a new form of freedom. In two minutes the address was over but its echoes still resound to this very day. This speech was delivered about four and a half months after union forces had defeated the confederation soldiers in a decisive battle at the battle of Gettysburg, which was a turning point in the civil war[1].

            The civil war arose as a result of a lack of compromise on the differences between states that were in favor of abolition of slave labor and those who favored the continuation of the use of slave labor.[2] The states that favored the retention of slave labor were concerned about the ability of the union to decree the abolition of unpaid slave labor.  The election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the Union on a platform of abolition sent shock waves to the southern states. They saw it as a final nail in the coffin for the sustainability of their way of life. Seven southern states as a result decided to secede and they formed the confederate states of America.  President Lincoln ordered a containment of the rebellious forces.  The initial containment measures led to a full blown war to destroy the south and the institution of slavery. By the end of it hundreds of thousands of American soldiers had lost their lives and the Northern forces won the battle thereby ensuring that the union prevailed as a slave free territory[3].

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      In Gettysburg the President was to make “a few appropriate remarks” [4]but ended up being the most memorable thing.  In the speech, President Lincoln talked about the foundations of the American nation that is based on freedom to all individuals.  He stated that the ongoing civil war was not only a war for the preservation of the union but a test as to whether a nation that dedicates itself to promotion of individual freedom can stand and whether a government dedicated to the people is feasible[5].

      In his conclusion President Lincoln urged those present to take it upon themselves to continue the struggle of defending liberty and democracy that the fallen soldiers were dedicated to[6].  In the present time, forces against liberty and democracy still persist in many parts of the world.  The United States has a responsibility at present to continue upholding the values of freedom and liberty and ensure that the march towards liberty and democratic governance in the world over continues.

Bibliography

Bruce Catton, James M McPherson. The civil war. Mariner Books, 2005

Olson P. Stephen. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Rosen Publishing Group 2005

Timothy H. Donovan, Thomas E. Greiss The American civil war. Square one publishers Inc 2002

Kunhardt, Philip B., Jr. A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln at Gettysburg. Little Brown & Co. 1983.

Murphy, Jim. The Long Road to Gettysburg. New York: Clarion Books. 1992.

Wieck, Carl F. Lincoln’s Quest for Equality: The Road to Gettysburg. Northern Illinois University Press. 2002.

Wilson, Douglas L. Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words. Knopf. 2006.

[1] Kunhardt, Philip B., Jr. A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln at Gettysburg. Little Brown & Co. 1983. 263 pp.

[2]Timothy H. Donovan, Thomas E. Greiss, The American Civil War 2002 p1
[3] Bruce Catton, James M McPherson. The civil war Mariner Books. 2005, pg 3
[4] Stephen P Olson, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address 2005 pg5
[5] Murphy, Jim. The Long Road to Gettysburg. New York: Clarion Books. 1992. 128 pp.

[6] Wieck, Carl F. Lincoln’s Quest for Equality: The Road to Gettysburg. Northern Illinois University Press. 2002. 224 pp.

 

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