Lasting roughly over two minutes, the Gettysburg Address is one of the best known speeches in American history. In the Gettysburg Address, author Abraham Lincoln puts hope into the hearts of Americans of a new nation brought up from the ashes of the American Civil War and the noble men that fought to preserve its belief in liberty and the equality of all men.Lincoln’s words deliver a sense of unity and wholehearted purpose among Americans in his Gettysburg Address. In the first paragraph, Lincoln states his belief that “all men are created equal”, an allusion to the Constitution. He is asserting that freedom of all men, including slaves, is backed by the law of the land. Lincoln never uses the words “I” or “you” to address his audience, but instead uses “we”, “our”, and “us”, to establish ethos and connect with the crowd before him and Americans in general--the North and the South.
Moreover, he repeatedly says “we” throughout his speech to emphasize his goal for unity. In the third sentence of the third paragraph, Lincoln uses parallelism in “little” vs. “long” and “we say” vs. “they did” to make a point that the fight to defend their country’s values of liberty and freedom from their soldiers will not be forgotten. Again he reveres their nobility in the first sentence of the same paragraph , repeating “we cannot” in front of “dedicate”, “consecrate”, and “hallow” (“this ground“), using hyphens between each statement to create emphasis. Lincoln builds up to his ultimate message, the climax of the paper: That Americans shall make it their duty to see that the rights of man which Union soldiers so righteously defended shall never again be neglected.
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He goes on by addressing “the great task remaining before [them]”, which is “that…we” give as much devotion to the cause as those who died for it, “that we highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain”, and “that this nation…shall have a new birth of freedom”, creating, with this use of anaphora, and intensity that makes his listeners feel proud while also giving them a sense of purpose/cause. Finally, Lincoln uses asyndeton to close off his speech by affirming that government “of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”, promising a brighter future. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address reassured Americans that their soldiers did not die in vein, for the freedom and liberty of man would never cease to be defended.
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