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Read Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and watch the brief video that follows, then in about 100 words, state what you think/feel. Have you heard of it before? If so, how/when? Have you read it before? Why do you believe this brief speech lasting about two-and-a-half minutes and less than 300 words is one of the most important speeches in American history?
The Gettysburg Address
President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
“Fourscore and seven years ago
(a score is twenty years: four score and seven is 87 years: Lincoln gave this speech in 1863. That means 87 years ago is 1776: Declaration of Independence, signed July 4th. Also, in 1963—a century later in front of the Lincoln Memorial— Martin Luther King began his “I have a dream…” speech with a nod/salute/allusion to Lincoln’s speech: Martin began “Five score years ago…”)
our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation
(never had there been a country that would not be ruled by a king/dictator/emperor but by those elected by the people)
conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
(not black men, and no women: that would come in time and with much struggle/blood/sacrifice)
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,
(conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal)
can long endure.
(from the beginning there was an agreement that slavery would be phased out: it was; New York ended slavery July 4th, 1827. But the South would not free its slaves whom they referred to as ‘servants’. While there were other reasons for the Civil War, this, undeniable, absolutely, was the reason: to free 4 million people, as the Constitution pledged)
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.
(most of those buried were never identified)
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.
(that ‘unfinished work’ is ending the war and freeing slaves whom the southerners referred to not as slaves but ‘servants’)
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 shall have a new birth of freedom
(finally the freedom from slavery)
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsmgkZ8l2TQ