Saturday, November 2, 2013

Historian: Americans Don’t Understand Meaning Behind Gettysburg Address

150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg 
Address this month
A historian said Friday that Americans often fail to recognize the meaning behind President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address ahead of the speech’s 150th anniversary this month.
Allen Guelzo, director of Civil War era studies at Gettysburg College and a renowned Lincoln scholar, said at the Heritage Foundation that Americans typically remember the address for its brevity orphrases like “four score and seven years ago” and “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Lincoln delivered the remarks—comprising just 272 words in 10 sentences—on Nov. 19, 1863, four-and-a-half months after the pivotal battle of Gettysburg left more than 50,000 soldiers dead or wounded. Only a third of the expected bodies had been buried at the cemetery at the time.
Guelzo said Lincoln was “a man of no verbal wastage,” providing the thousands gathered at the dedication with a past, present, and future vision of America. The Founding Fathers “brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty” in 1776; the present crowd assembled to honor those “who here gave their lives that that nation might live”; and Lincoln urged the attendees to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
The last part, given the historical context of the speech, is the most important, Guelzo said.
“We do not see Lincoln’s subject, the survival of democracy, as Lincoln saw it,” he said. “For Lincoln, democracy was an isolated and beleaguered island in a world dominated by monarchies and tyrants.”
Lincoln studied the terror of the French Revolution and the military dictatorship of Napoleon, followed by the 19th century revolutions across Europe that were “crushed and subverted by nascent monarchies and romantic philosophers,” Guelzo said. Democratic government “lay discredited and disgraced,” he added.

No comments:

Popular Posts