Gettysburg Address by Lincoln rallied a weary nation to fight on

the battlefield site of the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln honored the dead at the Battle of Gettysburg with a plea for the Union to accept nothing but total victory in the Civil War. Image: CC pingnews.com/Flickr

The Gettysburg Address was given by President Abraham Lincoln 147 years ago today on Nov. 19, 1863. Lincoln gave the speech at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, which is considered the turning point of the Civil War, when the Union army destroyed an invading Confederate force from July 1-3, 1863. When he gave the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln spoke for only two minutes, but his words were so eloquent and profound that they represent what the American people prefer to believe they’re country stands for to this day.

Why Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn. Though the Union army had defeated the Confederates at Gettysburg, the carnage was so horrible that anti-war sentiment had reached a fever pitch. There were New York draft riots, and opposition Democrats wanted to oust Lincoln and make concessions with the Confederacy. The stakes were high, and Lincoln made the most of his opportunity to rally the nation with a speech that began with the famous line “Four score and seven years ago.”

Key passages in the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln used the occasion of honoring the victims of the Battle of Gettysburg to make his case for total victory in the Civil War. He dedicated the battlefield “as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live.” Ironically, he said “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Other unforgettable lines include his description of the soldier’s sacrifice as “the last full measure of devotion,” and the imperative that “these dead shall not have died in vain.” Finally, he cemented the speech in history by saying that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Battle of Gettysburg

July 1-3, 1863, 172,000 Union and confederate soldiers collided at Gettysburg, Penn. Afterward, the battlefield was littered with the bodies of nearly 8,000 men and 5,000 horses, rotting in the summer heat. Nearly 50,000 Americans from both sides were wounded. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate general Robert E. Lee retreated with his decimated force back to Virginia with the Union army hot on his heels.

Sources

TIME

Washington Post

Wikipedia

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