The Gettysburg Address

by Abraham Lincoln

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Explain why Abraham Lincoln would need to use ethos for this speech. What was he trying to convince his listeners of?

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Lincoln masterfully used ethos throughout his short Gettysburg Address in order to convince his audience of the necessity of carrying the Civil War out to its conclusion. He made a close connection with his listeners by using short sentences and simple language to make his argument. The Gettysburg Address is only 271 words long. 202 of those words are simple and monosyllabic. He used this simple language in order to be easily understood by his listeners and he repeatedly employed the pronoun "we" to draw them in close. In doing so, he used ethos to step down from his lofty position as President and address his audience as one of them: a fellow mourner of those who sacrificed their lives in the name of the Union cause.

It was important that Lincoln could convince the American people of the necessity of continuing the war. By the autumn of 1863, many people in the Union were growing weary of the seemingly endless and costly conflict. By invoking the sacrifice of those who died at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln was using ethos to form a connection with his listeners and imploring them to support the continuation of the war.

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