June 18, 2013
By Anne Continetti
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Overview | The Gettysburg Address has been memorized, recited, and admired. Countless readers have discussed its rhetorical devices, literary merit, and political reception. But few have attended to the thought of Lincoln’s speech and the deeper purposes that it serves.
People do recognize that this funeral oration, honoring Union dead in the battle that marked a turning point in the war against Southern rebellion, was even more clearly a summons to the living to prosecute to victorious conclusion a war that, despite the victory at Gettysburg, was not going well enough: “the great task remaining before us” is, first and foremost, the winning of the war. But few people see that the speech offers Lincoln’s reinterpretation of the American Founding, his understanding of the war as a test of that founding, and his own characterization of this nation now being reborn through passing that bloody test.
Objective | Students will be able to: understand the meaning and central ideas of the Gettysburg Address; cite textual evidence to analyze a primary source; examine the structure of a primary source text; memorize an important historical speech.
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