The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

Intention:  Lincoln delivered this speech after the battle of Gettysburg was fought in the American Civil War.  His speech was designed to remember all of the men who died in the battle of Gettysburg and to celebrate all of the soldiers who died while fighting for freedom.

Quotation: “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,” (489).  This quote supports Lincoln’s intention of remembering the soldiers who had died in battle.  It discusses setting aside a portion of the battleground to remember the fallen men.  I enjoy this quote because it discusses the death that was inevitable in order for a free nation to be born.  The deaths and sacrifices of these soldiers created the free nation that we all know today.  This is the history that led to the free country we live in now; although we were not Lincoln’s intended audience, we can still read this speech and appreciate what our country went through in order to ensure the freedom we all experience now.

Parallelism: Lincoln uses parallelism when he says, “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground,” (489).  In doing this, Lincoln creates a rhythm within his sentence which makes it appealing and poetic to read.  By stressing “we can not”, repetition is present and persuasive to the reader.  Repetition helps stress Lincoln’s point that these soldiers were extremely noble and brave for fighting for this country.  Parallelism is also present when Lincoln says, “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, 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,” (489).  The usage of “that” and “the people” creates a repetition as well and emphasizes the point the Lincoln is trying to get across; this nation shall thrive under a new freedom.

Allusion: “…all men are created equal,” (488).  Lincoln begins his address by saying this phrase at the end of his first sentence which alludes to the Declaration of Independence.  This reference adds power to his speech since the Declaration of Independence is a well-known and highly valued piece of writing.  By saying that all men are created equal, it reminds Lincoln’s audience that the war they are currently fighting is based off of freedom and equality.  He instantly focuses the audience’s attention to the fact that all men are equal and touches on the main reason why this civil war is being fought.

—Vanessa Petranek

Intention: He also wanted to inspire people to keep fighting because he knew they were feeling hopeless after losing so many soldiers.

Speaker: Abraham Lincoln knew he had a very divided country and he needed to inspire them to come together and fight for freedom. By giving the speech, he was hoping that people could see he really cared about the people and the war. It is easy to think of a president as sitting in a very secure house sending people to go die for him but he wanted to become one with the people and show leadership.

Audience: The speech was designed to give the audience courage, despite hopeless circumstances, to be patriotic.”from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” The audience are a group of soldiers and with those words he wants them to honor the dead by completing their cause for them.

Subject: Obviously, it is very difficult for people to willingly give up their life for their country against their country. Lincoln speaking at Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest and most influential battles, shows reverence to the horror that took place there. He want to honor them by mentioning the dead soldiers, but does not want to “consecrate” the land because then it becomes final. The war was not final at that point. The greatest honor they could give the dead was to continue and win the war which further develops the intention.

– Mackenzie Coon

Because his audience was discouraged by the numerous casualties of the recent battle, Lincoln had to remind the audience of the freedom and peace victory would bring. By alluding to the Declaration of Independence at the beginning of the speech, Lincoln creates a parallel between the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. Bringing up the Declaration of Independence served to remind the audience of the time after the Revolutionary War, when America won its independence and freedom, which creates a sense of nostalgia. This reminded the audience that war and suffering must be endured to achieve victory. Therefore, after remembering the joy that victory brought, the audience rallied to bring the Civil War to an end so they too could experience that joy for themselves.

Throughout his speech, Lincoln commemorates the soldiers who died, never specifying Confederate or Union soldiers. In addition, Lincoln uses inclusive pronouns like “we” and “us” and always refers to America as one nation, even though the Confederates at the time believed themselves to be a separate nation. In doing so, Lincoln presents himself as inclusive and supporting of both sides of the war. He gives the impression that he is waiting with open arms when the Confederates surrender and return home to the Union, because he never truly considered them separate. He appears sympathetic and understanding, establishing ethos.

Lincoln uses several phrases throughout his speech to honor the dead. He claims that these men “gave their lives that that nation might live,” and that, because they made such large sacrifices, the audience must “take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” Lincoln urges his audience to act so that “these dead shall not have died in vain.” These dramatic phrases serve to emphasize the soldiers’ sacrifices, even though most soldiers were drafted without choice. Lincoln creates the illusion that these men signed up to die for their country and ensure its freedom because they were so devoted to it. By seeing the “devotion” of the soldiers, the audience is inspired to also devote itself to the war, which was Lincoln’s intention.

— Olivia Hatch

Context/Intention: Written for the dedication of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, Lincoln wanted to honor the fallen soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg. In addition to that, Lincoln seeks to inspire the remaining soldiers to continue to fight for freedom.

Anaphora: To further appeal to his audience’s emotions, Lincoln uses anaphora, or the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. He begins multiple sentences with “we” to show the sense of togetherness and fraternity between those fighting in the war and those not fighting.

Delivery: Lincoln delivered this speech at a dedication for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, which was a highly emotional time for those present, as they were remembering those who lost their lives in the battle. Had this piece been delivered in a different way (written for the audience to read), it would not have been as effective in its message.

–Katie Tegenkamp


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