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Englishtown, Lesson 28 - The Gettysburg Address

POLITICIAN:

To commemorate the opening of a cemetery, in the small Pennsylvanian town of Gettysburg. During the American Civil War, the town of Gettysburg had been the site of a horrific battle in which over 7,500 soldiers had died. It was out of these sad circumstances that one of the most famous speeches in American history was conceived: The Gettysburg Address. The story behind the speech is a fascinating one. Despite being the president of the US, Lincoln was not asked to make the keynote speech at the ceremony.

POLITICIAN:

That honor belonged instead to a man called Edward Everett, who had, in his time, been the Secretary of State and the president of Harvard University. The organizers wanted to open the cemetery on October twenty third, but Everett complained, asking for more time to prepare his speech. It was agreed that it would be delayed until November nineteenth. The organizers decided, almost as an afterthought, to invite the President of the country to say a few words. The invitation reached Abraham Lincoln only seventeen days before he was due to make a speech, and forty days after Everett had been invited.

POLITICIAN:

Even in those days, this was incredibly rude! Giving the President of your country only seventeen days'' notice before making a speech, especially as he wasn’t top of the bill, would be unthinkable today! So, the day arrived, and Everett, well prepared, displayed his oratorical skills in a speech which lasted over two hours. Lincoln, on the other hand, spoke for just over two minutes. And yet it is Lincoln’s two minute Gettysburg Address which is so fondly remembered and referenced in political speeches throughout the years.

LINCOLN:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal '

POLITICIAN:

The opening line became one of the most famous in western speech making history. At once, it asks the audience to think back to the birth of the US, and, it echoes the famous lines from the Declaration of Independence, 'that all men are created equal ' The speech then suggests that the men who died in the battle were fighting for just that - equality and freedom. Only ten sentences later, the speech ends with the immortal lines:

LINCOLN:

'this 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 '

POLITICIAN:

Notice he’s talking about the birth of the nation rather than the death of the soldiers. He emphasized the role the American people would need to take in rebuilding their country after the war, in the famous phrase, 'a government of the people, by the people, for the people'. In two minutes, Lincoln had got to the heart of the matter more effectively than Everett had in over two hours! Indeed, the speech was so short that only one of the group of photographers managed to set up his camera in time to take a picture. But despite its brevity, the speech proved to be one of the turning points of the civil war.

POLITICIAN:

It helped the north remember what they were fighting for-- freedom and equality for all people, black and white and strengthened Lincoln’s personal position as their leader remembered to this day as one of the greatest American Presidents of all time.



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POLITICIAN:

To commemorate the opening of a cemetery, in the small Pennsylvanian town of Gettysburg. During the American Civil War, the town of Gettysburg had been the site of a horrific battle in which over 7,500 soldiers had died. It was out of these sad circumstances that one of the most famous speeches in American history was conceived: The Gettysburg Address. The story behind the speech is a fascinating one. Despite being the president of the US, Lincoln was not asked to make the keynote speech at the ceremony.

POLITICIAN:

That honor belonged instead to a man called Edward Everett, who had, in his time, been the Secretary of State and the president of Harvard University. The organizers wanted to open the cemetery on October twenty third, but Everett complained, asking for more time to prepare his speech. It was agreed that it would be delayed until November nineteenth. The organizers decided, almost as an afterthought, to invite the President of the country to say a few words. The invitation reached Abraham Lincoln only seventeen days before he was due to make a speech, and forty days after Everett had been invited.

POLITICIAN:

Even in those days, this was incredibly rude! Giving the President of your country only seventeen days'' notice before making a speech, especially as he wasn’t top of the bill, would be unthinkable today! So, the day arrived, and Everett, well prepared, displayed his oratorical skills in a speech which lasted over two hours. Lincoln, on the other hand, spoke for just over two minutes. And yet it is Lincoln’s two minute Gettysburg Address which is so fondly remembered and referenced in political speeches throughout the years.

LINCOLN:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal '

POLITICIAN:

The opening line became one of the most famous in western speech making history. At once, it asks the audience to think back to the birth of the US, and, it echoes the famous lines from the Declaration of Independence, 'that all men are created equal ' The speech then suggests that the men who died in the battle were fighting for just that - equality and freedom. Only ten sentences later, the speech ends with the immortal lines:

LINCOLN:

'this 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 '

POLITICIAN:

Notice he’s talking about the birth of the nation rather than the death of the soldiers. He emphasized the role the American people would need to take in rebuilding their country after the war, in the famous phrase, 'a government of the people, by the people, for the people'. In two minutes, Lincoln had got to the heart of the matter more effectively than Everett had in over two hours! Indeed, the speech was so short that only one of the group of photographers managed to set up his camera in time to take a picture. But despite its brevity, the speech proved to be one of the turning points of the civil war.

POLITICIAN:

It helped the north remember what they were fighting for-- freedom and equality for all people, black and white and strengthened Lincoln’s personal position as their leader remembered to this day as one of the greatest American Presidents of all time.


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