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Brieanna Strickland

Comm 110
Professor Dutill

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The Civil War Era was a trying time for our once divided nation. One of the most
famous battles, The Battle of Gettysburg, was also one of the deadliest and claimed more than
50,000 lives (History, 2010). Still in a time of war Union casualties were buried in poorly
marked graves at the site of the battle. Both Pennsylvania citizens and politian’s called for a
proper burial of its Union soldiers, four months later the cemetery was in the making. In
November of 1863 a dedication was to take place at the cemetery. Ironically enough Lincoln was
not the intended key speaker of the event. Senator Edward Everett was to be the keynote speaker
and he cordially extended an invitation to the president to come and say a few words. Lincoln’s
two minute, 237 word speech would go on to become one of his most famous speeches.
Behind the union forces was the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln truly believed in the ideas of our forefathers, that all men are created equal. During his
presidency he worked hard to uphold our government and bring our divided nation together once
more. He felt that the government should be upheld for the people, “You have no oath registered
in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect
and defend it"(Whitehouse, 2014). Honest Abe embodied the concept of unity.
Although all three of Aristotle’s proofs can be found throughout Lincoln’s speech, the
use of logos and pathos work to elevate the speech. Lincoln starts his speech off with the words
“four score and seven years ago”, which basically means 87 years ago. Here his use of such
eloquent language speaks towards his credibility. By using such formal diction at the very
beginning of the speech the audience immediately knows that the person has been educated
possibly beyond the norms of the time. Lincoln then continues on to address the ideals found in

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The Declaration of Independence that was written well before his time. This historical reference
leads an audience to believe that he has studied the issue at hand. Listeners now know that the
speaker has prepared and gathered all necessary information to be able to deliver an intellectual
speech. The ethical proofs delivered within the first lines of the speech also help to capture the
audience’s attention; people tend to listen to those whom they feel are informed.
The major argument of Lincoln’s speech was to remain united, to stop fighting and to
come together. Following his references to the Declaration of Independence he proceeds to
remind people that the nation is still at war. “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure” (Eidenmuller,
2014). At the end of his speech Lincoln then notes that the people should work towards freedom,
and a united government. “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”
(Eidenmuller, 2014). With these two lines he ties together the logical argument behind the
speech. Lincoln is letting his audience know that they may be struggling now but the goal is to
move forward and continue to build upon the standards set by our forefathers. Here this logical
proof helps to identify the bigger purpose behind the Gettysburg Address without having to
directly state it.
A majority of Lincoln’s speech was dedicated to the fallen soldiers. He refers to the dead
as our “brave men”, and “honored dead”, while the audience is of “poor power”. He notes that
“we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground”, but “the living and dead who struggled
here have consecrated it far above our poor power” (Eidenmuller, 2014). By setting the union

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soldiers on a pedestal he manages to light a fire under the audience. People want to reach that
level of greatness and sustain the honor of the soldiers, not to mention the respect of the
president of the United States. Nobody wants to send their loved ones off to war, and none the
less bury them. Lincoln effectively utilized the family aspect of the audience. He understood that
death is a sad and painful event for anybody to experience and he used his words to evoke
change. Lincoln found one feeling that everyone in the audience had in common and he took off
with it, and doing so he united them as well.
The Gettysburg Address was important because it reminded the people of their power.
Through this speech Lincoln managed to help the nation regain sight of what they had fought so
hard for. America had fought for its freedom so they could have a government “for the people,
and by the people”. During the Civil War people had lost sight of that concept. In my opinion
this speech also helped rally the Union towards victory. I feel as though the audience believed in
what Lincoln was preaching and the rallied behind the cause. In all I would say this speech is
most important because it helped to reunite the nation by giving people a common ground.
Even though Lincoln only said “a few words” his speech was still very powerful. We
should continue to study this speech because can learn how to effectively utilize Aristotle’s
proofs. Two minutes is a very short time to speak, it’s barely long enough to capture your
audience’s attention. The fact that Lincoln was not only able to capture his audience’s attention,
but spark thought and change across the nation in 2 minutes is amazing. By studying this speech
we can learn to choose words and build logical thoughts that reach large groups of people. In this

day and age we have definitely lost sight of our forefathers’ visions. Remembering the
Gettysburg Address can help us remember that united we stand divided we fall.

Works Cited
1. Abraham Lincoln. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from
http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/abrahamlincoln
2. The Gettysburg Address. (2010, January 1). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from
http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/gettysburg-address
3. Eidenmuller, M. (2014, January 1). Gettysburg Address - American Rhetoric. Retrieved
September 30, 2014.