November 19, 1863.
With the exception of the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address has done more than any other document in American history to shape the ideals which define our nation. In fact, it’s the synthesis of the two documents that helped create the American we know today – an America that didn’t exist before Lincoln’s famous speech. Understanding the importance of Lincoln’s brief address on this – the 150th anniversary – sheds light on our origins as a nation, our national struggles today, and the role of the Gettysburg Address as bridge between the two.
The Gettysburg Address was born in the collapse of the United States. When the Southern states seceded from the Union in late 1860, they did so citing much of the same rhetoric Jefferson used to justify American independence from England. The South even went so far as to draft its own Declaration of Independence, copying much of the language from the original. Continue reading