On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave a 272 word speech to honor the soldiers and the cause for which they had fought and died, as well as state his vision for the country. This speech was known as the Gettysburg Address.
Abraham Lincoln was 52 when he was elected president. He served two terms with Hannibal Hamlin and Andrew Johnson as his vice presidents. Many people know him for the Gettysburg Address and the Civil War but he was so much more than that. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which began the process of freedom for America’s African-American slaves. He strongly supported the Thirteenth Amendment that formally ended slavery in the United States. He set an example of strong character, leadership, and honesty which succeeding presidents tried to emulate. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln.
The speech by Abraham Lincoln redefined the Civil War. The significance of the Gettysburg Address 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’, or a group of Northern Democrats that opposed the Civil War'. The Gettysburg Address can be now viewed on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to Lincoln 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. This speech has shown an enduring appearance in American culture.
“His little speech is a perfect gem, deep in feeling, compact in thought and expression, and tasteful and elegant in every word and comma.” This was one of the many press reactions after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This particular one was from the Springfield (MA) Republican. Another one from the Chicago Tribune says, “The dedicatory remarks by President Lincoln will live among the annals of the war.” This just says that the Gettysburg Address affected every citizen in the United States.
The Gettysburg 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 battlefield 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 larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot 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 that 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 that 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.
 R. J. Norton, The Accomplishments of President Abraham Lincoln, December 29, 1996, http://rogerjnorton.com, (January 30, 2012) Abraham Lincoln Quotes, 2012, http://www.goodreads.com, (January 30, 2012)  Gaynor Borade, Summary and Significance of the Gettysburg Address, 2012, http://www.buzzle.com, (February 1, 2012) Reactions to the Gettysburg Address, March 2004, www.nps.gov, (February 2, 2012)  Roy P. Balser, The Gettysburg Address, 2012, http://showcase.netins.net, (February 2, 2012) Gettysburg Address, 2012, www.enotes.com, (February 3, 2012)
Here are some trivia questions you could ask a friend about the Gettysburg Address.
1. Who was the primary speaker at the dedication of the soldiers at Gettysburg? a. That honor went to Edward Everett, a popular politician from Massachusetts. He spoke for 2 hours and his speech was well received in he press. Everett himself praised Lincoln’s speech and said, “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.” 2. Did the Democrats praise the Gettysburg Address? a. The criticism was actually split along the party linee. The Democrats knocked his speech as silly and ridiculous, while the Republicans praised and reprinted it. 3. Did people like Lincolns presentations of his amazing speeches? a. Even though Lincoln could write great speeches many didn’t like his presentation of them. He spoke clearly with few mistakes but his voice could be “high pitched and unpleasant.”