What does Lincoln described as the impact of those who fought at Gettysburg? 

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Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863, while the Civil War was still raging, on the occasion of the Soldiers' National Cemetery being dedicated. A large crowd was assembled and, in his address, Lincoln stated that it was for those gathered, the living, to dedicate themselves to "the unfinished...

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Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863, while the Civil War was still raging, on the occasion of the Soldiers' National Cemetery being dedicated. A large crowd was assembled and, in his address, Lincoln stated that it was for those gathered, the living, to dedicate themselves to "the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced." Those who fell at Gettysburg, Lincoln said, had not only consecrated the ground already with their sacrifice but "nobly advanced" the work of the nation in its attempts to test whether "a new nation conceived in Liberty" could genuinely exist and endure. Those who fought at Gettysburg, "living and dead," had provided through their dedication, Lincoln said, an exemplar for other Americans to follow. In order to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain, other Americans should "take increased devotion" to the cause of liberty and ensuring that a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" would outlive the bloody Civil War in which the USA was embroiled.

The impact of those who fought at Gettysburg, then, was not only to "consecrate" the field at Gettysburg in such a way that the world would "never forget what they did here," but also to rejuvenate the commitment of other Americans to the cause. In dying in pursuit of liberty, these soldiers offered a reminder of what the war was really about and why it was important for the US to demonstrate that a government "conceived in Liberty" could prevail.

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Lincoln says that the men who died at Gettysburg have consecrated the battleground (part of which is now the cemetery Lincoln helped to dedicate with his speech) through their deaths. The impact of their sacrifice is profound, Lincoln said, because it reminded Americans of their need for sacrifice. In the end, the struggle is about whether or not a republic (a government "of the people, by the people, for the people") can exist. To lose the struggle is inconceivable, and the soldiers died to ensure that the nation not only survived, but experienced what Lincoln called a "new birth of freedom." In short, Lincoln says that their deaths did what many historians say he strove to do with his speech: they elevated the purpose of the war from a conflict ostensibly about secession to a war about human freedom and its survival in the United States of America. 

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