Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

David Walser

The fight for freedom lies within the roots of human nature. The demand for recognition as independent and equal individuals drives humans to challenge establishment and seek new foundations. In 1861, a call for independence rallied in the American South divided the Union through a civil war characterized by brutality and bloodshed. The Battle of Gettysburg illustrated the callous nature of the Civil War and demonstrated one of the greatest decimations of life in American history. However, in spite of the circumstances present, Abraham Lincoln aptly transformed the situation from one of desecration to one of hope and promise. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address represents a keystone in American history in its properties as one of America’s greatest speeches and as one of Lincoln’s greatest feats. Lincoln proved the power of words by conveying an abstract and moving message in a concise 272 word speech. Surprisingly, Lincoln did not direct his speech at either the Southern Confederacy or the Northern Union but as a single united nation. Instead, he commemorated both sides for their willingness to die for a cause and advocated for the urgency of change to honor the fallen. Lincoln desired for the rebirth of America as a unified power bounded together through nationalism and republicanism. Lincoln’s speech revived a disheartened nation with promises of a lasting democracy. The Gettysburg Address shaped American history and America’s perception of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s fateful speech carries his legacy along with his famed Emancipation Proclamation and presence in reuniting the Union in desperate times. Lincoln’s actions have ensured that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” still endures to this day. David Walser The Early College at Guilford Greensboro, NC