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Spinning President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

One of the last photos taken of Lincoln.

One of the last photos taken of Lincoln.

The wooden speaker's platform at the new Gettysburg cemetery was not very high off the ground, but it was filled with military officers, politicians and dignitaries wearing broad sashes to distinguish them from the crowd who came to listen.

Pushing up to the front of the temporary structure, were those who had gathered together at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as enlisted men, veterans and also family members of those who had died on this battlefield a little over four months before.

They came to remember those who had fallen in the bloodiest of all Civil War engagements, and to hear the words of the famed orator, Edward Everett who was to deliver the keynote speech of the ceremony.


A Dreary Day

The weather was overcast and the fields, especially where they had been excavated for new grave sites, were muddy from recent rainstorms which had hindered preparations for the event.

The dreary skies reflected the somber mood of the thousands who came to attend the dedication of the cemetery.

After a military procession and the seating of dignitaries including the President, a funeral dirge was played by the band, the Rev. Mr. Stockton, offered a 941 word invocation which was followed by the oration by Edward Everett as the main speaker at the ceremony .

Speaker of the day, Edward Everett.

Speaker of the day, Edward Everett.

Professor and Statesman

Everett had considerable personal credentials. He was a Harvard professor, and later president of Harvard. He also had served as a US Representative, Senator and Secretary of State -- as well as Governor of Massachusetts and Minister to Great Britain.

He was one of the most famous orators of the day and certainly the person that the respectful crowd wanted to hear. His speech was expected to be eloquent and inspiring.

Lincoln had been invited to "make a few concluding remarks" directly after Everett's lengthy speech. It was almost an afterthought to ask the president to speak, at all.

President Lincoln knew the people had come to hear the more famous speaker, and kept his presentation short.

Much to Everett's credit, and perhaps reflective of his sincerity, he later complimented the president for making the better speech of the day, even though the president took only two minutes, rather than the two hours that Everett needed.

Political cartoon featuring Lincoln and political opponent Stephen Douglas. The lanky "railsplitter " was often cruelly satirized during his political career.

Political cartoon featuring Lincoln and political opponent Stephen Douglas. The lanky "railsplitter " was often cruelly satirized during his political career.

If you grew up in the USA, you are familiar with the speech Lincoln gave on November 19, 1863. You may have even memorized it in school.

Two hundred and seventy words spoken almost a century and a half ago, remain fresh and inspiring even in these times.

What makes it so memorable and effective?

Let's look at it as a piece of writing and explore a couple of other ways it could have been written.


If you haven't read it for awhile-- look at the example to refresh your memory.

The Gettysburg Address

lincolnsgettysburgaddress

There are at least five versions of the Gettysburg Address. The one above is the one inscribed on the interior wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The others vary only slightly, most notably, some are penned without the phrase, "under God", which may have been added at the time the speech was being delivered.

Some of the other drafts may have been early edits, but others were re-written for people (including Edward Everett) who requested a copy after the event.

Deconstructing the Address

Now, let's do a little deconstruction. First of all, Why "four score and seven"?

Lincoln might have just said "many years ago " or "a few generations ago" or even "eighty seven years ago".


Remember that the English language has some special names for certain numbers, like half dozen(6), dozen(12), baker's dozen(13) gross (12 dozen or 144), score (20), score-dozen (240) etc.

Back in 1863 when the speech was given, these terms were used more frequently than they are today. Everyone knew that a "score " was twenty.


So the phrase "Four Score and seven" meant four times twenty, plus seven. In a way, it sounds like less than saying eighty-seven years and perhaps was meant to emphasizes the point that the nation was born less than a century before -- not so many years in the life of a nation.


No photos of Lincoln  delivering the address are known to exist.  Photography was in its infancy, and the speech was no doubt over by the time an apparatus could be set up.  This shot shows a rather disorganized group around  the platform.

No photos of Lincoln delivering the address are known to exist. Photography was in its infancy, and the speech was no doubt over by the time an apparatus could be set up. This shot shows a rather disorganized group around the platform.

Poetry and Purpose


It also sounds more poetic, but I think one of the main reasons that phrase was used is that it was an attention-getter.

Requiring the listener to do that simple mental calculation is a little like asking a question; it wakes up the brain and requires the hearer to be an active listener.


Lincoln went on to highlight the founding principles of American liberty and equality, and in a rhetorical way, he asks if a country based on such ideas can withstand the trial of civil war. Again he is engaging the listener as they consider the question.

His praise of those who died in battle is deeply respectful and sincere without sliding into the sentimental and over emotional language that sometimes is typical of Victorian era writing and speeches.

Almost more important than what he says is, what he does not say. The war is still going on at this point and animosities are high, yet he focuses no reproach or malice toward the rebels. Instead he refers back to original national ideals with a hope that the nation will be restored to fulfill the original vision its founders.

The address, in fact, reflects back to the theme of a much earlier political speech made by Lincoln. When he was only 28 years old and first running for public office, he pondered the fact that there were very few veterans of the Revolutionary war still alive. He feared that their loss might be the start of a time when people began to forget about America's founding ideals. The old veterans of the revolutionary war would not be around to tell their tales.

The speech at Gettysburg was an inspiring reminder of the principles he held dear.

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

The No-Frills Edit

What if a no-nonsense editor had gotten a hold of his text and revised it so that all the "unnecessary stuff" was removed.
It might have sounded like this:


"Eighty-seven years ago our country began with liberty and equality. This war makes us wonder if it will survive.
We now dedicate this battefield cemetery, but the soldiers did more.
Speeches will be forgotten, but we'll remember the soldiers.
We have work to do. We promise to keep the government and freedom alive."

There! Cut about 200 unneeded words . . . Less is more… huh?

No. It would have been forgotten . . . and deservedly so.

Lincoln and Son,"Tad"

[Abraham Lincoln, seated and holding a book, with his son Tad (Thomas) leaning on a table.

[Abraham Lincoln, seated and holding a book, with his son Tad (Thomas) leaning on a table.

Now, as an writing exercise that demonstrates the effective and economical word usage of the original text, let's spin the speech into a state of uber-wordiness that presents the same ideas, while squeezing the meaning out, and using a dumpload of adjectives and adverbs.


The wordy version might have said:

"Four times 20 , plus seven years back from this year, our staunch and sacrificing original American patriots came together to debate, plan, frame and firmly establish the foundations and guiding principles of this great and glorious country.

As a newly formed collection of states in the relatively recently discovered world, after years of colonial domination, they would subsequently collaborate to establish a government with a basis of idealism rooted on this new continent, which had once been unknown, to the self-serving colonizers before their discovery and exploitation .

This new nation, began with men who had idealistic dreams of liberty from unfair domination and taxation by royalty or dictators , demanded the rights of self-determination for its people. They strongly believed in the sublime proposal that all men are universally born as equals in most every basic sense, and that all should have an undeniable say in the ultimate decisions affecting their own personal and corporate destiny."


But Lincoln conveyed these thoughts in about thirty words:

"Fourscore 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."


The wordy version of the presidential address might have continued like this:

"It's been a while now that all of us have been divided into factions that have resulted in one half of the country is fighting with the other half in a war which separates us philosophically, and is trying out the idea that a nation which started out united in principle can hold itself together and remain united in fact for a long period of time.


"Well, here we are on a field where a great battle of the war has taken place fairly recently. This particular battle of this war is over, even though the war is not, so we have come together to designate part of the land which comprises this battlefield, as a graveyard for some of those soldiers who were killed here while trying to support the idea that the country doesn't fall apart and disappear altogether.


"In order to give some meaning to the terrible sacrifices that have been made in this battle and in this war, we have come to mark the occasion with memorial ceremonies and speeches, which seems to be the right and suitable thing for us to do on such occasions as this, as is our custom....."


But Lincoln only said:

"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."

Public domain image.  Call Number: PRES FILE - Lincoln, Abraham--Gettysburg Address [item]
c-P&P Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Public domain image. Call Number: PRES FILE - Lincoln, Abraham--Gettysburg Address [item]
c-P&P Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


The wordy version might have said:

" In reality, though, we can't really do too much to make this place too much more significant or special than it already is by virtue of those who fought and selflessly gave up their young lives here. All of them have already patriotically given this place , which now seems so peaceful, special meaning and honor, by their glorious struggle for the cause of unity and freedom and also by their unimaginable bravery and courage, fighting through the smoky shrouds of battle on this muddy plain. Nothing we do or say now, after the fact, no matter how many words we use, can add to, or take away from the special importance and honor that has already been historically given in a much larger sense, to this place by the spilling of their blood in terrible soldierly sacrifices and unimaginable heroism."


But Lincoln only said:

"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, 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. "


Wordy version:

"Nobody will notice very much of what has been done here today to commemorate the dedication of this cemetary, or even remember much of what has been spoken on this particular occasion. Words , no matter how beautiful or well-presented, are heard and forgotten quickly they have little lasting influence on those who hear them. But the desperate and heroic deaths that occurred here, the grievous sacrifices and undeniable courage of the soldiers who fought here so sacrificially and selflessly will not, and should not be ever forgotten for ages and ages to come."


But Lincoln only needed to say:

"The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. "

More wordiness:

"But because of their undeniable sacrifice in the giving of their lives and futures, that we who are still alive and able to act on their behalf and for their sake and for the sake of generations to come, to pledge our minds and hearts to the task of finishing the noble work that still remains to be done.-- the work that they so selflessly and gallantly began and pushed forward to this point by showing their resolve in battle, and by their ..........(on and on and on...)


But Lincoln only said:

"It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. "


The wordy rewritier might also have said:

"We need to be inspired and re-energized by the remembrance of supreme sacrifices by those who are honored and celebrated for the significant and unrepayable allegiance and dedication to their county which can never be measured, that we will make sure their battle is continued and their lives not wasted in the fight to make sure our country will have a resurgence of the high ideals upon which it was originally founded, so that the government established by freedom loving people, by the grace of an almighty, omnipresent , just, loving, merciful , wise and omnipotent providential power shall re-emerge into the glorious blessings of adherence to the principles of freedom and liberty or everyone and will continue for time immemorial or until the end of the world , possibly in 2012, according to the Mayan calendar.


But Lincoln only said:

"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 they 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."

Instead of using only 270 words, Lincoln could have easily said the same thing in at least 950 words which would have made it a little longer even making it a little longer than the opening invocation prayer.

lincolnsgettysburgaddress

The Man and the Martyr


If you have ever stood in the memorial to Lincoln in Washington DC, you know that his huge sculpted image is a tribute to a martyr who has gained mythical proportions in the minds of Americans.


He was a man who grew up in poverty but gained a leadership position where he found himself in the midst of a national moral crisis that threatened the existence of our country.

The course of history depended upon some of his decisions, even while he was dealing with the personal sorrows and trials of being married to a mentally unstable wife, and enduring the grief of losing two young sons.

Despite his many personal trials, he could be jovial and light-hearted, yet you still get a feeling that he was a just a humble man whose sorrows made him even more introspective and appreciative of high ideals.

He probably would have been amazed to know how "long remembered" his short speech was.

Comments

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 17, 2016:

Thank you, Glenn. Got a couple of HP views, but don't see Flipboard in the stats.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on November 15, 2016:

Well, I liked it so much I just flipped your hub to Flipboard. So hopefully you'll see more traffic now.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 15, 2016:

Thank you , Glenn. You picked one that has been unread for quite awhile.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on November 15, 2016:

This was an enjoyable article to read, Rochelle. You brought back memories of the days when I had to memorize the Gettysburg Address. I even had to recite it, up in front of my class.

The one thing that I don't recall in class, was any discussion of breaking down the meaning of Lincoln's words. I found it very interesting how you re-edited it and even came up with a short and long (wordy) version. I got more out of this than I ever did back in my school days.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 28, 2015:

Thank you, Jodah. I have tried to edit, but something is preventing my efforts.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 27, 2015:

This is a wonderful hub, Rochelle. It would do all writers good to read Lincoln's Gettysburg address and compare it to your possible longer version. It is a good lesson in keeping your writing precise and to the point. Sometimes less is much more. I hope you get it refeatured soon.

Jay C. O'Brien on June 28, 2014:

Stop glorifying war by praising speeches which promote war.

The Gettysburg Address promotes war.

We need to join together and teach our children that speeches of this kind are contrary to moral principles. (Do not kill)

Agreed?

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 27, 2014:

President Lincoln was beloved for so many reasons. You've clearly demonstrated how different his speech might have been. So few words, yet so powerful.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on June 01, 2014:

Yes, Lincoln was a politician and a poet, but he did not consider many options. Alternatives to killing existed: underground railroad, public and private education against slavery; the North could have let the South succeed.

It was only a matter of time before slavery died out. Britain and later Mexico had already ended slavery. Slavery is really not economic, see "The Wealth of Nations," by Adam Smith.

Do not glorify or defend war or the leaders of war. War makes widows and orphans. War makes malice. Everyone who shot or killed someone had to become hardened to it. Homicide is not natural.

It is time we rewrite the history books to condemn the leaders who led us into an unnecessary war.

The revolutionary war was unnecessary, see "Patrick Henry and Mental Health," or "What do we know about the Alamo." Travis, Crockett and Bowie disobeyed a directe order by Sam Houston to destroy the Alamo. Travis, Crockett and Bowie had "Tombstone Courage." They were foolish.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 31, 2014:

I love how you take this apart, show all the options, and prove that the man was not only a politician but also a poet.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 30, 2014:

Jesus.

But Lincoln was president.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on March 30, 2014:

So whose approach is more correct: Lincoln or Jesus? See: "How would Jesus see the Gettysburg address" on my Hub Pages.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 29, 2014:

It's true, war is full of injustice and suffering. No one ever fought a "humane" war.

One thing I found amazing is that, even though the war was not over, the President did not use the occasion to demean the South or rally the Union troops. I believe he knew that it was a tragedy for all sides.

If he had been Jesus Christ, he could have stopped the war and raised the dead of both sides as well as freeing the slaves. Lincoln was a special human, as beings go.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 23, 2014:

I remember learning about the battle, and the speech in grammar school in Louisiana. What I did not realize then was that, despite the declared lack of malice, my ancestors were not buried there. They were left in the fields and ditches where they fell. I guess it is understandable, as they were the enemy. Still, knowing that made me feel a little different.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on March 23, 2014:

Over 500,000 people died in the civil war and let us not forget about the widows and orphans left behind.

Let us take a look at the Gettysburg Address from the viewpoint of the New Testament.

Lincoln says his purpose is to: “dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place to those who here gave their lives that nation might live.”

Would Jesus have consecrated a killing field and advocated killing again and again? Lincoln places nation above God. Who was/is more correct, Lincoln or Jesus?

Jesus taught to love one another. His final command to Peter was: sheath your sword. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your enemies. All of these teachings go against fighting and killing in combat. Jesus never strapped on a sword. We should not dedicate land as sacred if killing was involved.

Alternatives to fighting existed such as: The Underground Railroad, public education against slavery and private Christian education against slavery. Given time, the attitudes of people, even in the South, change.

JRs from United States on December 17, 2013:

Rochelle, I have an MFA in English Lit. and a BFA in Creative Writing and they still get by my editor eyes. You're a good writer. Trust me, I'm more of a content guy than I am a grammar or punctuation guy. I just enjoyed your subject matter and find it rare to read someone who has something interesting and original to write on here online. I'm complimenting you because you're not stale or copied and reworded from popular blogs. Thank you, I find your writing refreshing. Mistakes here and there would never matter if you are facing selling your writing. That's what an editor is for. ;) :D :P

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 17, 2013:

Your comments made me go back and re-read it (to see if it was really that good). It's pretty good, but my re-read found a glaring incomplete sentence talking about Everett-- so, thanks to you, I fixed it up. Cheers!

JRs from United States on December 17, 2013:

Oh I agree. I just love how the words seem to reach deeper in me than modern methods of writing and speaking. Lovely article. Keep it up! You write so well.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 17, 2013:

Thanks for your kind comments. Though his words were "of the era", he was much more plainspoken than other speechmakers of the age. I think it was part of his humility. It also made him connect better with the ordinary person

JRs from United States on December 16, 2013:

I absolutely adore your hubs! Lincoln is my favorite person from American History. The language then is attractive to me and somehow it reaches deeper into my soul than modern English.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 01, 2013:

Thank you, carol3san. The other versions would have been forgotten the same day. Simple brilliance, proving that often less can be more.

Carolyn Sands from Hollywood Florida on December 01, 2013:

Enjoyed this hub. I always enjoyed the Gettysburg Address since I had to memorize it school many years ago. I don't believe the other versions that you posted would have done it justice.

Mary McShane from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 30, 2013:

that's true @ his popularity since death. I don't know if he would fare well in today's national media because the little bit of media that was around then, he abhored and shied away from intrusions. With our pervasive society today where we see mostly every faux paux and lots of the dirty laundry of running candidates, I think Lincoln would have taken a pass on running.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 30, 2013:

Simple and complicated sounds right, but maybe because we have become too complicated to understand simplicity.

It has always amazed me that he had such a wonderful and expressive sense of humor even though he had so many difficulties and sorrows in his life. If any mere mortal could be called 'great', Lincoln would qualify. What terrible burdens he bore.

Though artists have be kind to him, he was not really physically attractive-- I often wonder how he might have fared in our media driven society. As for going back, yes it would be interesting. We are looking through the lens of history. He certainly was not as popular and loved before his death, as we think of him now.

Mary McShane from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 30, 2013:

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to be a spectator for about 24 hours, just to "experience" some of our historic figures, then return back here. Sounds silly when I read it back, but I'll leave it here in place. lol Lincoln was a complicated yet simple man who will be written about for years to come. You did a nice job playing "what if" which I enjoy doing as well. :)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 19, 2013:

Thank you, Reagan1mc. I appreciate the read and your comment. Today is the 150th anniversary of this famous speech. I just watched most of "Gettysburg" on TV, and i did visit the site many years ago. What a horrible chapter in this nation's history. Though it did finally contribute to the close of the war, it took a terrible toll in death and destruction for both sides.

Reagan McGuire from Flagstaff, Arizona on April 07, 2013:

That was very informative. I like the eclectic nature of your interests :-)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 05, 2013:

That's a very interesting point, Sherry Hewins.

If it had been a hub, it would have needed at least twice that many words, plus photos, videos, dividers, sub-headings, poll capsule, amazon ad, map and quiz. :)

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 04, 2013:

Wow, talk about making your words count. It's amazing to think that this powerful speech would not even amount to enough words for a "substandard" hub.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 23, 2012:

Thanks for commenting, RTalloni. When I was researching this, I was surprised to realize that Lincoln had given many speeches that were much longer. Even in those, he didn't seem to get into the flowery, overblown style that was typical of the day. I think this is one reason he could connect with ordinary people-- plus the fact that he remembered his own roots.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 23, 2012:

Thank you, Patty Inglish, MS. I guess we were lucky we didn't have to memorize the other speech of the day.

I like reading 'new' things about Washington and Lincoln, but always wonder how close the interpretations of their lives are to the reality. Both have attained mythical status and it makes one wonder what they were really like. When we read their own words, we may understand the real person better than when we read about them.

RTalloni on April 23, 2012:

Beautiful speech, neat hub! Thanks for a job-well done, and a good reminder that "memorable and effective" is the result of concisely meaningful words.

One if the reasons for Lincoln's phraseology is that he knew and understood Bible language. That is also one of the reasons some people hated him.

Thanks for a good look at a brilliant speech!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 23, 2012:

I appreciate your comment, Alekhouse. I hope most people skimmed through the awful "wordful" interpretation. I've often wondered what Edward Everett said.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 23, 2012:

I like this Hub very much. Yes, I think Lincoln would be surprised that so many school children memorize his speech.

Bill O-Reilly's book on Lincoln is very good and much better than Beck's on Washington.

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on April 23, 2012:

Thanks, Rochelle for an insightful and informative hub

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 22, 2012:

Well, pass it on, then. Ha!

Much, much more than a political speech, in fact it might be considered an anti-political speech. There was no blame or criticism placed on the South-- he was all about "Union" in the broadest sense.

He even allowed the rebels to keep their firearms and horses if they had them.

The South suffered horribly, and Reconstruction brought its own set of troubles-- Under the circumstances, he was magnanimous and magnificent.

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on April 22, 2012:

Well Thanks!

I feel rather dumb for not knowing the backdrop to this. I'd always thought it was "merely" a presidential speech by one of the two greatest presidents we'd ever had.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 31, 2012:

Thanks, again, Billie. I am very glad to hear that it is still being taught. I was amazed to realize that the war was not over (though almost) at the time this was first presented, yet it did not seem partisan. Lincoln believed strongly in the Union cause, but believed even more that reconciliation was needed. Do we have anyone in government today that feels the same?

Billie Pagliolo from Laguna Hills, California on March 31, 2012:

Interesting approach with the "interpretations" - an illustration of the true elegance of that piece. Peggy W wondered if students memorize the Gettysberg Address in school anymore. I hope it's not inappropriate, and I won't list the link, but I created a fill-in-the-blank version of it on our website under the Kid Page section. We do get many visitors there, so I'm thinking children are still interacting with this amazing piece of literature.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 24, 2012:

My pleasure--

I enjoyed looking into a subject which interested me.

DrJez from Narara NSW Australia on February 24, 2012:

A very informative hub, Thanks.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 13, 2012:

I think a lot of us learned it when we were young, but it is interesting to read it with older eyes, and it takes on a new depth after we have gained some years of experience.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Terrific hub, Rochelle and timely in this election year of 2012 that we should once again be reminded of our Founding Fathers' principles and also this great speech of Abraham Lincoln's in a time of our country being so divided by differing causes. I think that his wording was perfect...neither too long, nor too short. I think many of us had to memorize this Gettysburg Address at some point during our school years. I wonder if school kids today still do that? Voted up and interesting and will SHARE with my followers.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 04, 2012:

Thank you Flicker. It was a point of brilliance in a very dark time.

Flickr on February 04, 2012:

well done. insightful thank you for the read.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 04, 2012:

Thanks for commenting, Glenna East. I saw that program on Roosevelt, where he changed the wording. Sometimes a word or two can make a great difference.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 04, 2012:

Alekhouse, this one sat unfinished and unpublished for quite a long time. I decided I should get it done before President's Day. Should have been finished earlier.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 04, 2012:

Thank you, Paradise7-- we Do need to be reminded from time to time, don't we?

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 04, 2012:

Beautiful hub. Of the very few photographs I have seen of Lincoln, there was a great depth and sadness in his eyes.

Your hub also reminds me of Roosevelt’s radio address following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. He began his address by stating the attack that occurred the day before as a day “that will live in history.” He decided against the word, history, and replaced it with the word, infamy.

Lincoln was, in a way, Everyman…one who was educated and of humble means with a deep sense of intelligence, responsibility, fairness and humanity. He was a great man.

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on February 04, 2012:

What a great blog...so interesting and well done. Perfect time to post this. Thanks, Rochelle

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on February 04, 2012:

What a great speech! I'm glad you put this up here. It reminds us all of what a great country we live in, why it is so great, and all the sacrifices that went into making and keeping it so.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 03, 2012:

I both enjoyed and struggled with putting this together, DIY. When I researched some of his other speeches I was surprised. Most of them were quite a bit longer-- but very much to the point, and true to the same principles he spoke of at Gettysburg.

Yes, he struggled with many things, personal and political. Many of the Washington insiders of the time regarded him as a very tall hillbilly backwoodsman, but he seemed to have such a clear vision-- both of his country and his countrymen-- that he could verbally joust with the best of them. It makes one wonder, if he had not been murdered, if we would have known more about the man rather than the subsequent mythology.

Not perfect, perhaps, but certainly admirable for the things we do know. His words bear witness.

Thank you for your observations.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 03, 2012:

To PCunix--- you are the one who TOTALLY got the point I was trying to make!

Sadly enough-- it took me a heck of a lot of words to illustrate, why using too many words dilutes the message... I am very pleased to receive your comment. Thanks.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 03, 2012:

To justmesuzanne: Yes, John Adams was also amazing.

I did know about the sign language code-- Makes you wonder if it was coincidence or happenstance. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 03, 2012:

Thanks so much, drbj. I have always thought it was just the right mix of concise statement and poetic fluidity.

And thanks for the 'up'.

DIYweddingplanner from South Carolina, USA on February 03, 2012:

Wonderful hub about a man who has always been one of my idols. I think his genius has long been overlooked as shown in this speech and countless other things he said and did. He struggled with lifelong depression, yet still managed to accomplish so much. Thank you for writing this, Rochelle.

Tony Lawrence from SE MA on February 03, 2012:

Very well done. Probably a good thing he did not have an editor :)

justmesuzanne from Texas on February 03, 2012:

It's so important to look deeply into the thoughts of the towering intellects who went before. I am currently studying John Adams - and exemplary statesman.

Here's a factoid you may be unaware of: Lincoln's hands resting on the arms of his chair as depicted in the Lincoln Monument are held in the A & L handshapes in fingerspelling for the deaf. I don't remember which hand is which, but one is A and the other is L.

Voted up & awesome! :)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on February 03, 2012:

Rochelle, m'dear, you have made it close to impossible for anyone reading this anazing hub to forget the actual words of Lincoln and the principles for which he stood.

This is awesome writing and you deserve a very large Up!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 03, 2012:

Thanks, ahorseback . . .mine too.

Thanks to you Wayne Brown. I think it is generally accepted that he wrote it himself... several drafts. I was struck by the similarities of theme in his earlier speech, where he feared that founding principles were being forgotten. His vision seemed clear even under such pressure. (By the way, I found it interesting that Edward Everett was a Whig.)

Thank you for the nice comments.

Wayne Brown from Texas on February 03, 2012:

I don't know it as fact, but my gut tells me that Lincoln wrote this speech himself. He wrote it with a passion for the nation and a sorrowful regret for the loss of life that had ensued in the struggle. Never on any other president have I seen the lines of pain and sorrow so etched into his face as Lincoln. On that fateful day at Gettysburg, he was neither a republican or a democrat...he was truly an American who spoke his heart and chose each and every word ever so carefully in the process. He put America ahead or his personal political beliefs and he elected not to shame the consecration of that day with political soil. Surely we could use another Lincoln today with a message that brings America back in the forefront of the minds of Americans. It is sorely needed. This is well done, Rochelle, well done. Thanks much. WB

ahorseback on February 03, 2012:

Lincoln , my hero ! Awesome job my friend!....:-}