Background of the speech Gettysburg Address
Question: Discuss the background of the speech “Gettysburg Address”.
Or, describe the reasons of the speech “Gettysburg Address”.
The background of “Gettysburg Address” is historic, humanitarian, inspirational, and based on national interest. This address is considered to be one of the best-known speeches in the political history of the world.
Background of the speech
Background of something means reasons or contexts. The speech “Gettysburg Address” was delivered by Abraham Lincoln (1809 –1865) on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, for several reasons. This speech is very short but the depth of the speech is very vast like an ocean.
American civil war (1861-1865)
The occasion for this great speech was the American Civil War. To put it differently, the most devastating Battle of Gettysburg was the prime cause of this speech. This battle was the turning point of the American Civil War. The battle of Gettysburg from July 1 to July 3, 1863, caused the largest number of casualties.
Historical context and significance
The significance of the speech went far beyond the battle of Gettysburg or the American Civil War as Lincoln starts his speech with reference to the American independent war that happened in 1776.
“Four scores and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent,
………. All men are created equal”.
Such a beginning indicates the historical promise of the founders of the United States that the black people will enjoy equal rights in America. But the slavery system in America even after eighty-seven years of independence was the main reason for the American civil war that occurred from 1861 to 1865. The two parties of the war were the Northern and the southern states of America. The Northern states supported abolishing slavery but the southern states supported permanent slavery.
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In the 16th presidential election of the USA, Abraham Lincoln as a candidate of the Republican Party had campaigned against the expansion of slavery. In other words, Lincoln kept his election manifesto “abolishing slavery”. He was elected as 16th president of the USA in 1860 but his victory resulted in seven Southern states and eventually the long five years American Civil War. The war ended in 1865, with the victory of the Union forces which also meant the ending of the organized slavery system in America.
National unity and inspiration
In the bloody battle at Gettysburg, Union Major General George Gordon Meade defeated the confederate General Robert E. Lee. The battle lasted for three days and more than 51,000 soldiers of both parties were wounded. It is assumed that an undetermined number of soldiers died and were also missing on the Gettysburg war field. That is why seventeen acres of land were bought for the cemetery. Several months later, on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln went to Gettysburg to speak at the dedication of the cemetery for the Union soldiers who laid down their lives to save their motherland from disintegration.
“The world will little note or remember, what we say here,
but it can never be forgotten what they did here”.
Gettysburg address is considered to be the largest patriotic speech in America. In this address, Lincoln paid tribute to the sacrifices of the dead and he inspired the living people to be sacrificial for the betterment of the country. In his short speech, Lincoln sought to reshape the goals of the American people.