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Significance of the Gettysburg Address

Gaynor Borade Mar 10, 2020
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address remains the most quoted speech in the history of the United States. The first hint at predominant people's rights and the power of democracy, this address was delivered at the Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Draft of the Address

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

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that, that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain 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.

"..of the people, by the people, for the people.."
In a span of just over two minutes and short ten lines, the 16th President of the United States of America, summed up the ideals that would go on to shape one of the most powerful economies of the world.
Although President Lincoln wasn't at his peachiest that day, his words, moved not just the 15,000 odd people who had gathered for the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, but also scores of people across the globe.
In not so many words, the President spoke not only about American independence, but about freedom in general. As Senator Charles Sumner said back then, the war itself wasn't as important as the speech.


Lincoln effectively summed up the consequences of the war in ten sentences. The controversies that rule the exact words and transcriptions merge in agreement of the main strain of thought. Lincoln stressed on the harmony between the early settlers and the Native Americans in the early years.
He highlighted the fact that liberty and equality were the core components for the emancipation of America. Lincoln urged the common man and politician to consider the lives lost in the attempt to save the nation from colonization, and pay tribute to the unsung heroes.
He emphasized on the fact that the Gettysburg Address may be forgotten in time, but not the soldiers who willingly laid down their lives. He urged the gathering to take up the cause and complete the task at hand, to usher in a government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people'.


Abraham Lincoln was a proponent of peace and the end to the civil war. The importance of the Gettysburg Address sent the uniqueness of the nation's commitment to democracy like a shaft into the opposition.
Even though the emphasis on equal justice, unfaltering resolution, and the new-world definition of democracy took time to sink in, afterthought invited reconsideration and quick commendation of the truth and appeal in his words.
The speech by Abraham Lincoln, in a way, redefined the Civil War. He propagated the struggle as one meant to witness the rebirth of freedom and people's power over the state. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the civil war, making the town a burial ground for over 7500 soldiers.
The cries of surviving family members welcomed the respite in Lincoln's address at the consecration of the 17 acres of cemetery. Its significance lies in the fact that Lincoln's political sentiments re-addressed war effort and challenged the outcome that otherwise seemed in favor of the 'copperheads'.
Lincoln had effectively made the people aware of their rights and declared the government answerable to the people. He redefined democracy as an independent offshoot of citizen will and not some property of the state legislatures.
The political orator stylistically delivered the address to consistently initiate inquiry and political shift, even after his death. His belief in the power of a democratic form of government sparked numerous varying interpretations.
The Gettysburg Address now finds its place on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial. This Lincoln Address has shown an enduring manifestation in American culture. It is an inseparable part of numerous works in popular culture, designed for contemporary audiences.
Martin Luther King Jr. referred to the political orator as 'a great American' and the Gettysburg address as 'a great beacon light and hope to millions'. Democracies around the world have now adopted the definition of democracy from the very words of Abraham Lincoln.
Abe Lincoln may have passed on, but his words still live in the hearts of scores of people, inspiring and preaching to them the values of democracy as they strive towards perfect governance.