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Presidential Speeches of Lincoln and Clinton

At the time, Lincoln had given up on the idea that the war would be won soon, and indeed after the near-disaster at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, he was less confident in the outcome of the war. As the time for the dedication drew near, certain thoughts occupied Lincoln's mind. When he was asked to appear at the dedication, he surprised his Cabinet by agreeing to go. At the time,

he was confident and yet cautious, aware of the enormity of the price paid and still to be paid for freedom, and yet convinced that no price was too high if the people were determined to be free (David D. Anderson 176).

The speech that Lincoln delivered that day at Gettysburg was derived from the rhetorical devices and behaviors he demonstrated all his adult life. Part of this speech echoed Pericles' funeral oration, other parts speeches of Euclid and Lincoln's own eulogy of Henry Clay. The language also flared with sounds and images from the Scriptures, something that Lincoln frequently did. Also noted was his tendency to couple words, a style of repetition derived from the Prayer Book: "to confess and deplore," "to pray with all fervency and contrition," "remembrance of our own faults and crimes," and "by the laborings and suffering of our fathers." In the Gettysburg Address, he did the same with "so conceived and so dedicated," "fitting and proper," and "little note nor long remember." Lincoln also created rhythm and emphasis by the lawyer's device of repeating certain words, sometimes over and over in the speech--"dedicate," "conceive," "consecrate," "nation," "lives," and "living" (Kunhardt 209).

The speech delivered that day was very short, but brief as it was, it would have an effect far beyond the hills of Gettysburg. In the century that followed, no other piece of brief prose received a fraction of the attention accorded to this:

The praise, examination, analysis, and comment recognize it as one of the great American utterances; Carl...

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Presidential Speeches of Lincoln and Clinton. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:31, September 20, 2017, from
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