jade in the parke

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address 150th Anniversary

Another thanks to J of JADE who has given me permission to share his Gettysburg Speech to use as the text for today's post about the150th Anniversary of that momentous moment unappreciated by some contemporaries, but has withstood the test of time.

“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.”

So began Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, a short speech of dedicatory remarks, which would usher in a new age of political ideology.

In order to get at the meaning behind these words, however, we must first look at Lincoln’s inspiration behind this speech. Like most funeral oratories, Lincoln’s was structured like a Greek funeral oratory, of which the “master coin” was struck by Pericles. The Address, as well as Edward Everett’s keynote speech given a few minutes beforehand, followed Pericles’ basic structure and style. For example, Lincoln used “we,” as in all the citizens, and “these men” when referring to the soldiers, just as the Greeks did. He also contrasted logoV to ergon, word to deed. “The world will little not nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” His contrast of his words to the soldiers’ deaths was self-deprecating, much like what Gorgias might pen (Check out the link at the very end of this post for more information). The greatest similarity, however, between the Address and Greek oratories is that both employed epainesiV, or praise for the fallen, and a parainesiV, or advice for the living.

Lincoln also took inspiration from the famous orator Daniel Webster, whom he greatly admired. Many of Lincoln’s ideals came from Webster, such as from this Webster quote,

"It is, Sir, the people’s Constitution, the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people….I hold it to be a popular government, erected by the people; those who administer it responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and modified, just as the people may choose it to be."

This ideology, even the words themselves, carried themselves over into the Address.

Yet, what do these words mean? 
What is the meaning behind the words that changed ideals and gave a new view to democratic government? 
By saying that the government was “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Lincoln changed the meaning of government, giving greater emphasis to the people. He recognized the political infection, the rule of sectionalism, and to dispel this, he affirmed the role and unity of the people. It was this infection that Lincoln intended to “clear” from the “atmosphere of American history itself.” 

He meant to give the people a renewal of trust in the government, 
by having the government trust in them. 
By changing the ideologies of the people, 
it altered the Constitution itself from within, by the spirit of the law.
He presented, not new ideas, but old ones in a more understandable, concise form, ideas voiced by those such as Daniel Webster. While these ideas had been floating around, Lincoln was able to pack them all easily into a 272-word speech given to about 15,000 people. 
Lincoln, by giving the Address, founded a “startling new interpretation of the principle of the founders which declared that ‘all men are created equal.’” Many people didn't think that all men were truly equal, but Lincoln subtly claims that all men, free and slave, were created equal. Even the placement of the graves indicated the equality between the soldiers, whether officers or not.

While Lincoln’s speech wasn't the longest, nay not even the most eloquent (that honor was given to Everett by Lincoln himself), it had the most profound impact ever afterwards. 
It changed the thinking of the American people.
Lincoln gave new meaning to the phrase “all men are created equal.” The Gettysburg Address gave fire to the hearts of the American people and made Gettysburg, and Lincoln, unforgettable.

“[And] 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.”

The only known image of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg was uncovered in 1952 at the National Archives. It was taken by photographer Mathew Brady. (Library of Congress) 

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Object-at-Hand-Gettysburg-Address-200812.html#ixzz2l7FPIVO9
Close up of the above image:

Thank you to J of JADE for sharing his Gettysburg speech he prepared last year at Rockbridge Academy
Please "Pin" this image.

Thank you to our fabulous homeschool tutorial service, Granite Classical that had my 6th graders memorize the Gettysburg speech. The one authorized by Lincoln himself that kept "Under God" in the speech. 

CORRECTION: I changed the picture above where I misspelled Gettysburg. Why, yes, the venerable Ken Burns retweeted it. The irony of a misspelling is not wasted on this homeschooling mom. 
Penance: I set my DVR to record the #theAddress on PBS tonight. 
Go and do likewise.