Gettysburch Essay

This essay has a total of 1917 words and 8 pages.


Gettysburch





Analysis of The Gettysburg Address
By: Meredith Ann

In the early days of the United States, loyalty to one’s state often took precedence
over loyalty to one’s country. The Union was considered a “voluntary compact
entered into by independent, sovereign states” for as long as it served their
purpose to be so joined (Encarta). Neither the North nor South had any strong sense
permanence of the Union. As patterns of living diverged between North and South, their
political ideas also developed marked differences. The North needed a central government
to build an infrastructure of roads and railways, protect its complex trading and
financial interests and control the national currency. The South depended much less on
industrialization and federal government than other regions did and therefore felt no need
to strengthen it. In addition, Southern patriots feared that a strong central government
might interfere with slavery. One of the largest disputes between North and South was over
tariffs, or taxes placed on imported goods and increased the price of manufactured
articles. Due to its resistance of industrialization, the South had to import almost all
manufactured goods, making them strictly opposed to high tariffs. The North on the other
hand, demanded them to protect its own products from cheap foreign competition.
Contrasting social, economic and political points of view such as these gradually drove
the two sections farther and farther apart. Each tried to impose its own interests on the
country as a whole. Although compromises had kept the Union together for many years, in
1860 the situation was explosive. Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president, which
was viewed by the South as a grave threat to slavery and therefore a threat to the entire
way of life. The only feasible course of action then was secession and war. So in 1861
seven states including South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana
and Texas, initially seceded from the Union. Not long after Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee and Arkansas joined them. These states made up the Confederacy. This was the
beginning of the bloodiest war ever to be fought on U.S. soil. The American Civil War. For
over two years, control seemed to shift back and forth between the North and South,
neither ever having clear dominance over the other. The war appeared headed towards
stalemate until July 1, 1863 and the 3 day Battle of Gettysburg. This battle was
considered, “by most military historians to be the single most decisive turning
point in the Civil War” (Encarta). In an effort gain foreign recognition, lessen
pressure on confederate forces at Vicksburg, obtain much needed food and clothing, and
“increase Northern war-weariness, General Robert E. Lee boldly lead his troops into
northern territory” namely, Gettysburg (World Book 485). Here Lee encountered Union
troops lead by General George G. Meade and battle commenced. In a decisive Union victory
(mostly due to their occupation of Cemetery Hill) the battle ended on July 4, 1863.
However both sides suffered heavy casualties totaling nearly 50,000 which were split
almost equally between North and South. This horrific battle gave the divided states some
common ground. The extensive loss of life was, no matter Confederate or Union, was all
American and the pain of it shared by each and every living American. It began to open
their eyes to a much larger mutual goal, resolution. Soon after the battle,
“Pennsylvania governor Andrew Curtain had charged [David] Wills, a successful local
citizen and Judge, with cleaning up the horrible aftermath of the battle” (LOC).
Wills acquired seventeen acres of the battlefield for purposes of establishing a national
cemetery for the soldiers who gave their lives at Gettysburg. He then invited venerable
Edward Everett, the nations foremost rhetorician, to give an oration at the dedication
ceremony. Wills also asked President Lincoln to speak extending him as well as Everett an
invitation to stay in his home while in Gettysburg. “Linclon accepted the
invitation, probably viewing it as an appropriate time to honor all those who had given
their lives in the Civil War. He also may have seen the dedication as an opportunity to
reveal his evolving thinking about the War, as a fight not only to save the Union, but
also the need to be united in preserving the ideals and meanings upon which it was
founded, the ideals our soldiers were dying for” (LOC). These ideas are central to
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which, despite its brevity, as opposed to
Everett’s long-forgotten two-hour oration, has become one of the most memorable and
effective of all time. The idea Lincoln is trying to persuade the audience to support is
that we must dedicate ourselves to preservation of a united nation and a new birth of
freedom. He provides three arguments in support of this idea. One is that we should honor
the dead by dedicating ourselves to preserving the nation so that they did not die in
vain. Secondly that this war is a test of the Union endurance and the task of preserving
it remains unfinished. And lastly, because the nation is dedicated to the proposition that
all men are created equal and is a government of, by, and for the people, to preserve it
is great and worthy cause. Lincoln’s speech is set up chronologically in order to
explain or demonstrate the steps needed to achieve, what he will explain, as united goal.
Lincoln begins with the past when the nation was originally created, moving next to the
present civil war that nation is now engaged in, and last concentrating on where the
present situation should take us and what we should hope to accomplish from this war. This
organizational technique was particularly effective in this situation. Because Lincoln was
speaking to a divided audience, it was imperative he provide common ground and unity in
order to effectively persuade them to adopt a mutual goal and resolution. He achieved this
by reflecting on the ideals and accomplishments of the forefathers they all have in
common, reminding each side of their unified history. Bridging the gap of difference
between North and South, set the whole audiences mind frame on the unified purpose by
which their nation was conceived, rather than their present particular interests. Because
of this larger focus, the audience is able to see the profound effect the current war
would have on the entire nation. The fact that this war will make or break what past
generations had worked to create. Not just that it will deiced whether or not slavery will
be tolerated. For this purpose Lincoln strategically neglected to mention slavery at all,
or any other comment that would put him in favor of one side. The purpose was to bring the
divided people together, if only for a moment so that they might see the more important
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