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In "The Gettysburg Address," what vision does Lincoln describe at the close of his...

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reedcapps | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:39 AM via web

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In "The Gettysburg Address," what vision does Lincoln describe at the close of his speech? In what way does the expression of this vision further his purpose for speaking?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:52 AM (Answer #1)

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The vision that Lincoln articulates at the end of his speech is a transformational vision of American democracy.  Lincoln keenly understood that the political implications of the Civil War was one that would define the condition of the nation for years to come.  The vision that Lincoln renders is a vision of government that embodies the purest form of liberal democracy.  Lincoln's vision in the speech is one in which the sacrifices of the soldiers on the battlefield of Gettysburg is  testament to the enduring values of democracy embedded in what Lincoln defines as American identity.  Lincoln's vision links the Civil War, the sacrifices of the Union soldiers, as well as American political notions of the good into one entity:

...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.

Lincoln's vision furthers his purpose of speaking in the links that he forges.  Lincoln keenly understood that being able to connect the sacrifices of the soldiers to a larger notion of American identity is the best way to honor what happened on the battlefield.  Lincoln recognizes that his purpose as Commander- in- Chief is to clearly honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  Yet, he also understands that this purpose has to be furthered in connecting such a sacrifice to a larger notion of the good.  In being able to connect "these dead" to a "government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth," Lincoln's vision has met his purpose for speaking.  It is in how Lincoln's purpose of speaking is supported by his vision where the Gettysburg Address has become a landmark of American political literature.

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