LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG The Battle of Gettysburg was the largest battle in the Americas history, raged from July 1 to July 3, 1863. It was a crucial event in the Civil War ended the Confederacys second invasion of the North. After the battle, the community of Gettysburg was packed of dead and injured men. The Governor of Pennsylvania authorized the purchase of a cemetery for the reburial of the Union dead. The cemetery was dedicated in a ceremony on November 19, 1863, where Edward Everett, a distinguished orator of the day, delivered a speech lasting over two hours. President Abraham Lincoln was asked to commemorate the gruesome battle.
Instead, he gave the whole nation a new birth of freedom in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training, and his deep political experience went into this revolutionary masterpiece. His remarks became known as the Gettysburg Address. They constitute a seminal statement, and restatement of the American vision. The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Garry Wills historical study “Lincoln at Gettysburg” is part intellectual history and a part fact-finding blend. It is partly close textual study and partly a study of the overall rhetorical effect of Lincolns speech.
It is also a clear analysis of the origins of the style and content of Edward Everetts speech. The centerpiece of study is, indeed, the Gettysburg Address, but Wills spends most of his time exploring the cultural background to the speech the Greek revival, nineteenth-century cemeteries, Transcendentalism, and discussing Lincolns other speeches. Wills central thesis, however, is that Lincoln performed an intellectual feat in the Gettysburg Address. Wills argues that the Gettysburg speech made a formal political connection between the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. At Gettysburg the Declaration became the foremost source of American moral principles, giving priority to the equality of mankind. Lincoln thus gave America a mission. The Constitution adopted thirteen years after the Declaration, countenances slavery and includes no language about human equality.
The Parallels Between Pericles' Funeral Oration And Lincoln's Gettysburg Address The Parallels Between Pericles' Funeral Oration and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Upon evaluating Pericles' funeral oration and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the reader is able to clearly notice the parallels between the two speeches. Although there is a significant length difference the content of the two orations is ...
In his spare prose, Lincoln says little directly about the nature of equality. Wills discusses the address and masterfully places it in the context of Lincolns earlier speeches to help us understand the development of Lincolns ideas on slavery, the antithesis of human equality. Wills argument may be making rather large claims itself. One problem is Wills belief that Lincolns connection of the Declarations principles to the Constitution also struck deeply against the classic states rights position. The Gettysburg Address did refer Americans to the Declaration and call for a renewed commitment to nations most basic ideals. However, it does not follow that the Address was designed by Lincoln to refute a states rights position or that the speech can be said to have had this sort of effect. One can be against slavery, and in accord with our fundamental principles, yet wish for decentralized government. To some extent Wills seems to wish the Gettysburg Address could be used against modern states rights advocates.
The Gettysburg Address also sounded the theme of the United States as a single undivided nation rather than a union or confederation of States. Wills shows how this theme too derives from the Declaration, when the people of the colonies rose up in unity to declare their Independence from Britain. Wills also reminds us of the sources of the idea of Nationhood in American history. The Gettysburg Address has become an authoritative expression of the American spirit as authoritative as the Declaration itself, and perhaps even more influential, since it determines how we read the Constitution itself without overthrowing it Wills asserts. By accepting the Gettysburg Address, its concept of a single people dedicated to a proposition, we have been changed. Because of it, we live in a different America.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, summed up the ideals that would go on to shape one of the most powerful nations of the world. Although President Lincoln’s speech was about ten lines, in which he delivered in two minutes, he moved not just the people who had gathered for the honoring of the soldiers who bravely gave their lives in Gettysburg while fighting for ...
In addition to Lincoln, one of the major characters at Gettysburg in 1863 was the cemetery itself. Americans of the Romantic period, from 1820 to 1860, began viewing cemeteries as sources of moral education. Here one could learn about life from death, about society from nature. Picnickers and tourists would visit cemeteries, wheeling along well-kept lanes through elaborate parks. Expensive tombs and rituals were developed.
Wills tries to show the influence on Lincolns thought on the transcendentalism of Emerson and especially that of Theodore Parker. Wills charts the different ways in which Parker as a keen polemicist presented the idea of democratic government being of the people, by the people and for the people. But Parker did more than contribute a catchy phrase. He gave abolitionism-increasing uprightness in the 1840s and 1850s by linking abolition to the doctrines of the American founding embodied in the tenets of the Declaration of Independence. Wills discusses very thoroughly these intellectual influences upon the Gettysburg speech. I think this one of the more challenging sections of the book. While the Declaration was born in the skepticism of British empiricism and of Deism, transcendentalism emphasized the ideal.
The Declaration and the Address, and the American mission, Lincoln transformed into ideal to be struggled for and realized by the living to commemorate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to achieve it. However, when Wills moves beyond this generally straightforward telling of history into argument, the book gets considerably weaker. Wills arguing twice against James McPherson, declaring that he is wrong to suggest that Lincoln came to view the South, in some manner, as a foreign power and that his position evolved to embrace unconditional surrender and total war. Moreover, Wills twice mentions the twentieth century, both times attacking “states rights” or “original intent” conservatives. As for me, doing so in this book seems out of place and disrupts the narrative flow. Conclusively, Garry Wills study Lincoln at Gettysburg gave us the opportunity to read and think about the Gettysburg Address.
In Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, he uses many different kinds of rhetorical strategies to unite a broken nation. During the time of the speech, it is four years into the Civil War and it is about to end. In this speech, Lincoln uses allusion, parallel structure, and diction to unify the North and the South. A rhetorical strategy that is seen throughout Lincoln’s speech is allusion. ...
This speech needs to be approached and rethought to get an understanding of the depth of Lincolns message. With a deep understanding of American history, Wills brings to this study a clutch of rhetorical theory as well as an appreciation of the intellectual circumstances surrounding both Gettysburg addresses.
Wills, Garry. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America. Touchstone Books, 1993..