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Transcript of Gettysburg Address
Washington, , 186 .
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. 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 hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedica-ted to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, 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. From 1775 to 1783, the nation that we now call home, the United States of America, was at war with its mother country, Great Britain. This war, often referred to as the American war for Independence, was the result of the overthrow of the British government by the colonist. The reason behind this overthrow of British rule was the unfair taxation that was placed upon the colonies. Taxes such as the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 affected only the colonist, not the British motherland. The colonies also received no representation in the parliament of Great Britain, which led to the infamous chant, “No taxation without representation”(www.archives.com). Only a year after the Revolutionary War broke out, our founding fathers had written an explanation of why the colonies were to secede from Great Britain, more properly known as The Declaration of Independence. This document was approved on July 2, 1776 but was ratified by the congress on July 4, 1776. July 4th is now Independence Day, the day that our new nation came to be recognized as the United States of America. When one hears the word liberty, they immediately think of the United States and what it means to be a citizen of this great country. The desire of liberty was one of the main reasons colonist fought during the Revolutionary War. However, if you were to ask one of its average citizens what the definition of liberty was, you might find that liberty is not as well understood as you might have previously thought. Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of liberty is as follows:
Liberty- 1: the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice
(www.merriam-webster.com) Slavery; most would say it was the predominant cause for the Civil War that was fought between the Union soldiers of the North, and the Confederate soldiers of the South. This war was fought from 1861 to 1865, during the time Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States. Lincoln did not support the practice of slavery and sought to abolish it throughout the country. If we were to read the Declaration of Independence literally, we might come to the conclusion that the Civil War should have never happened. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (www.ushistory.org). Equality is something that this nation was founded upon, yet hundreds of thousands of people had to die to try to protect it. Even to this day there are still lingering thoughts about whether or not there is true equality in our nation. During the 19th century, tension between the north and the south was building. The economy of the north was based on the many factories and industries that had sprouted up there since the Industrial Revolution. The economy of the south was based on agriculture. The plantations were large, and needed a workforce of unpaid slaves in order to make a profit. The growing antislavery movements of the north threatened the way of life in the south. Three months after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas seceded from the nation. In March of 1961, Confederate forces held Fort Sumter in South Carolina, a federal establishment (www.history.com). When Lincoln sent troops to resupply the fort, Confederate soldier fired, thus starting the Civil War. The bloodiest battle of this war was the Battle of Gettysburg; a three day battle in Pennsylvania that started on July 1st. Over 50,000 soldiers died in this battle alone. The Civil War ended by Confederate surrender on April 26th, 1865 (www.history.com). The Battle of Gettysburg took place on July 1st-3rd, 1863 in Gettysburg Pennsylvania (www.history.com). The battlefield was situated only about ten miles from the Maryland Pennsylvania border in a Piedmont region between the Potomac River and the Susquehanna River. The battlefield covered an area of about fifteen square miles, rather small considering the number of soldiers that fought on that field in those three days. On the second day of battle, the area known as Plum Run Valley earned the nickname Valley of Death (www.soldierstudies.org). By the time the battle was said and done, nearly the entire town of Gettysburg had been turned into a battlefield. During the Battle at Gettysburg, tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides died defending what they believed was right. The battlefield was soon covered with the bodies of the soldiers that had lost their lives, many of whom were buried in shallow graves dues to fears of spreading epidemic (www.nps.gov). Some of the graves were made in such a hurry that the gravestones consisted of planks of wood with the names of the desist written in pencil. These markers were soon eroded by the elements, and citizens of Gettysburg insisted that a proper cemetery be erected. This cemetery was the final resting place for over 3,500 soldiers, none of which were Confederate soldiers. Southern veterans felt this was wrong and made efforts to move the remains of over 3,200 Confederate soldiers to cemeteries in Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas (www.nps.gov). The Gettysburg Address was given at the cemetery’s dedication in November of 1863 to honor the fallen union soldiers. Soldiers from both sides were often not much older than twenty years old, mere kids fighting in a war against fellow Americans. Soldiers on the Confederate side wore woolen, grey suits. The reasoning behind the wool was the fact that this fabric was much more durable and water resistant the cotton. Many of their suits did not fit, or had missing buttons because they were handed down from fallen Confederate soldiers. The soldiers of the Union army also wore wool suits; however, theirs were navy in color. At the beginning of the war, Union soldiers were in excess because many young men joined thinking that the war would be quick and effortless. Even women and kids the age of fifteen lied to join the service. During the peak of the war, a draft was initiated and many poor farmers from the north began to fight. The reason the poor became the common soldier was because a union soldier could simply pay a fee of$300 to opt out of service, which many did (www.soldierstudies.org). The Union soldier was also equipped with a better weapon, the British made Enfield. This gun was more accurate than the bayonets that the Confederate soldiers used; so many southern fighters would pick up the Enfields of dead Union fighters. Either way you look at it, the soldiers of the north and the south were brave men that had powerful beliefs. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines freedom as follows:
1: the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence
c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care>
d : ease, facility <spoke the language with freedom>
e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom>
f : improper familiarity
g : boldness of conception or execution
h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>
Freedom was one of the unalienable rights guaranteed in the Constitution; however, freedom was most certainly not enjoyed by all who lived in America. This disregard for the Constitution is what ultimately what led to the southern states to secede from the United States. The slaves that the south were fighting to keep felt no freedom at all in a nation that boasted about its liberty, freedom, and pursuit of happiness. The Battle of Gettysburg, as well as the entire Civil War were ultimately a necessary chapter in the history of our nation. The death of so many young soldiers made many people realize that there was something wrong about the slavery that they practiced. Even though the change was not immediate, the effect was long lasting and eventually led to the slaves becoming freed men. freestatefoundation.blogspot.com www.archives.gov wirednewyork.com www.imagekind.com www.soldierstudies.org www.factasy.com www.gdg.org www.nps.gov www.soldierstudies.org http://www.civilwarsoldier.com/ http://www.civilwarsoldier.com/ fineartamerica.com One of the most influential people of the Civil War was President Abraham Lincoln. He was elected as the first republican president on November 6th, 1860 without a win in any southern state (www.civilwar.org). Years after the Civil War broke out, the bloodiest battle in American history occurred, the Battle at Gettysburg. Following the battle, Lincoln delivered The Gettysburg Address. This speech of only two minutes was preceded by a two hour long speech by Edward Everett, yet the speech that was ninety times shorter was the only one that history remembered. Aside from the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the U.S., Lincoln also made several other contributions to our nation such as, the Homestead Act, our university system, and also officially instituted Thanksgiving Holiday (www.civilwar.org). Only a few months after Lincoln was reelected, he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865 by confederate supporter, John Wilkes Booth. www.civilwar.org People who are held against their will and forced into servitude for another person are referred to as slaves. Slaves were the people that the Union soldiers were fighting for during the Civil War. Slavery has always been a part of human history, and it has always been a source of controversy. When the people of the south felt as if their way of life was being threatened, they acted in order to protect themselves. After all, 3.5 million of the 9 million people in the south were indentured slaves, nearly forty percent (www.bestthinking.com). However, the 21 million residents of the north begged to differ with the point of view that was the South’s. Some say that the sheer numbers is what won the war for the north, but either way the end of slavery was something that our nation needed to do in order to continue on to become the great nation that it is today. mediamatters.org People in this day in age could learn a lot from President Lincoln’s speech. The morals that Lincoln held himself to were morals that should inspire people to this day, as well as onward in the future. The Civil War is a blemish on the history of the United States that can never be erased. However, this blemish should be seen more as a teaching point. As the great Fredrick Douglas once said, “There is consolation in the thought that America is young” (Douglas). America learned from the Civil War in a way that can never be forgotten, in the form of human lives. People learned that slavery imprisoned the life of many, and also cause many others to lose their lives. Even though there is still prejudice within our nation, we have come a long way from the days of the Civil War, and Lincoln’s speech is a big reason for this drastic change in thinking.
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16.)YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded>. sixminutes.dlugan.com When Lincoln states that there is a great task that lies before them, he is referring to two things. The first of these things is the restoration of the nation, the reuniting of the confederate states of the south and the union in the north. The second task Lincoln was referring to was honoring the dead soldiers that had passed at the Battle of Gettysburg. Here lies the controversial part. Since the battle ground was in a union state, Pennsylvania, only the union soldiers were given proper burial sites at Gettysburg Cemetery. It is obvious that because the war was still being fought so there would undoubtedly be tension between the two groups. To me it seems wrong to leave soldiers of America, even if they had separated, in shallow, unmarked graves. This leads to a strong realization that the inspiring words of the Gettysburg Address were only focused to those of the north, while the south was yet again ignored. Critical Introduction
The Gettysburg Address, written by our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, was one of the most famous speeches that has ever been written. It was not meant to be so impactful or so memorable. Lincoln even states in the text that people will not remember the address, but rather the reason for the address, the thousands of soldiers that gave their lives to protect the state of the union. This causes me to wonder whether or not that Lincoln’s address was specifically aimed at inspiring the union soldiers of the north while simply ignoring the confederate soldiers of the south. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you look back to the causes of the Civil War, it becomes apparent that ignoring the deceased soldiers of the south in the Gettysburg Address is a powerful thing.
The economy of the north was booming in the years leading up to the Civil War. The north had changed from an agricultural economy to an industrial one thanks to the Industrial Revolution. The economy of the south was still largely agricultural and had not yet switched over to an industrial society. New taxes on agricultural goods were put in place prior to the war, which caused the south to fall even farther behind financially. The governments of the south petitioned to remove these taxes, but the federal government refused to do so (www.history.com). This caused some stress between the two parts of the nation.
The large plantations in the south required much labor, nearly all of which was done using indentured slaves. Slavery was simply a way of life in the southern states and not many people looked at it any further than a way to support their families (www.history.com). However, the southern states were receiving quite a bit of flak from the north, as well as the new states of the west such as California and Washington. The south felt their way of life was being attacked and that their desire for tax reform was being ignored by the federal government, so they decided that the best thing to do would be secede from the Union (www.civilwar.org). Soon after the Confederate states seceded, the Civil War broke out; proving that ignoring the southern states is indeed a powerful act.
The Gettysburg Address was a speech given at the dedication of a national cemetery, the Gettysburg Cemetery. Locals felt it was inhumane to leave the thousands of soldiers in shallow graves with no markers, so they called for the cemetery to be built. This seems like a common act of gratitude for the brave men that gave their lives in the war, but something that might not be known by the general public is that only Union soldiers were given proper burial sites at the cemetery (www.nps.gov). This struck me as cruel in and of itself. Although the Confederates were fighting against the Union, there was no need to leave them in shallow, unmarked graves, if they were given graves at all. Upon this realization that the federal government, under the leadership of President Lincoln, denied proper burials to soldiers of the Confederacy, It becomes apparent that the Gettysburg Address is simply a battle cry that ignores the south once more. The words highlighted in the project are meant to give a background to the Civil War as well as the Gettysburg Address. The explanations give insight into what the different parts of the address mean and how the context of the address affects those meanings.