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Gettysburg Address Analysis

1010 words - 4 pages

Political Speech Analysis Gettysburg Address Analysis Undoubtedly his most famous speech that he gave throughout his presidential years was his Gettysburg Address…… On the first three days of July 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, had fought the Army of the Potomac, the principal northern army, to which General George G. Meade had been assigned command only four days earlier. In early May, Lee had won a smashing victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia, over a Union force approximately twice as large, then had boldly determined to carry the war to the enemy by invading Pennsylvania. Drawn into an offensive battle at Gettysburg, Lee attacked both wings of the Union army before launching an attack on the center in the third day of fighting. That assault, led by Major General George E. Pickett, had approached success before Union forces rallied. The three-day battle cost the North 17,684 men killed and wounded; the South lost 22,638. The failure of Pickett's charge, sometimes labeled the high-water mark of the Confederacy, compelled Lee to withdraw from Pennsylvania. However, Meade failed to conduct the vigorous pursuit that Lincoln wanted. On July 7, Lincoln had spoken to a crowd assembled at the White House to celebrate the twin Union victories at Gettysburg and at Vicksburg, Mississippi, the key to control of the Mississippi River), which had surrendered on July 4. Lincoln gave an awkward speech: "How long ago is it?—eighty-odd years—since on the Fourth of July for the first time in the history of the world) a nation by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth that 'all men are created equal.'" Later, after rambling, Lincoln confessed that he was not prepared to make a speech "worthy of the occasion." He had, nonetheless, expressed the central theme of the {draw:frame} Gettysburg Address, which he refined and strengthened for delivery at the cemetery. Fiction created a legend that Lincoln wrote his speech on the back of an envelope while on the train to Gettysburg. In fact he had already written two complete drafts, later presented to his two secretaries. Another legend exists that Lincoln was sadly disappointed in the speech, especially after it drew strong criticism in newspapers. Such criticism appeared only in Democratic papers; hostile editors savaged the speech not because they thought it weak but because they recognized its strength. Republican editors and others knew immediately that Lincoln's speech was masterful. In some 271 words, 202 of them having one syllable, Lincoln captured the meaning of the war, transforming "eighty-odd years" into the sonorous "four score and seven," using imagery of birth, death, and resurrection to move from what "our fathers brought forth … a new nation, conceived in Liberty" and dedication to the principle that "all men are created equal)" to the war itself. At the...

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