Explain what is meant by the idea that in the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln never calls for a Northern Victory.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One approach that could be taken is to argue that Lincoln seems to be striving for something more than a mere battlefield victory.  There is a "larger sense" that dominates the address.  The Civil War is present in his comments, but the President seeks to establish a larger purpose.  This purpose is one to fully understand the condition of being that recognizes the sacrifices of soldiers and the cause for which their lives and hearts are given.  Lincoln seeks to bring out that the rationale for war is one embedded in American political traditions and that the sacrifice of the soldiers was not merely for a battle, but rather for the very being of the nation.  In order to preserve a government "of the people, by the people, for the people," the Address honors the memory of the dead.  In the end, Lincoln probably understood the "larger sense" of the speech, one in which a Northern victory would be understood and not one in which it needed to be stated.