The Gettysburg Address

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Speech by President Abraham Lincoln

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

"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.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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. 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."

 


Tasks

  1. The Gettysburg Address is one of the most important speeches in American history. Make use of the sources linked below and analyse the historical importance of the speech. Where and why was it given? What were the consequences of the speech, and how did people react to it? What is the legacy of the speech today?
  2. We say in the textbook that this speech is an excellent example of clear, clean rhetoric (see page 410 for more about rhetorical methods). Discuss whether or not you agree with our statement, pointing to specific examples from the speech.