Abraham Lincoln wasn’t often wrong. On November 19, 1863, he was. Following the two hour Gettysburg cemetery dedication speech by Edward Everett, Lincoln got up and spoke for two minutes.
And he can be excused for perhaps thinking that a 120 second speech would be quickly forgotten. At the time, many thought it should be.
But 150 years of hindsight does make a difference.
During his short address, Lincoln connected his present with the past of Jefferson and other Founding Fathers – making it clear that the idea “all are created equal” was as relevant in 1863 as 1776.
It still is.
I think we sometimes forget that “a new birth of freedom” was not a one-time thing. It must be ongoing and never-ending. But progress has been slow. Too often, we struggle to turn Lincoln’s vision into reality. Read more
I’ve always loved the Gettysburg Address.
And not just because of the content and Lincoln’s message but how it sounds. If you’ve ever had the chance to hear the speech delivered by a skilled orator, you know what I’m talking about. It flows. There are rhythms.
Delivered well, the Gettysburg Address provides not just an amazing picture of what America can and should look like but an incredible example of an expository speech. It’s the kind of content that you can design an entire unit around.
And you have another tool in your tool belt. Ken Burns and PBS are currently working on a film focused on the Address scheduled for airing next spring. There will be lessons, resources, and other teaching materials. But there are some cool things going on right now that you and your kids can be a part of. Read more
November 19, 1863. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Perhaps 20,000 people had gathered to hear former Massachusetts Senator and Governor Edward Everett deliver a speech dedicating the cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield. The dedication had been postponed a month to allow Everett more time to prepare his remarks.
The weather was mild for November, windy with a few sprinkles during the afternoon.
The Cemetery Dedication Committee had, as a courtesy, also invited United States President Abraham Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” following Everett.
And while Everett delivered the first address at Gettysburg, it is the two minute, 10 sentence speech by Lincoln that we remember. Lincoln’s “appropriate remarks” should be required reading for every student who walks through our doors. Lincoln’s short but profound speech embodies the core of American democracy – equality, freedom, a government by and for the people.
EDSITEment has developed a four lesson unit that focuses on Lincoln’s vision for a strong Union that worked to ensure these core values. After completing this unit, students will have a better understanding of why Lincoln revered the union of the American states as “the last best, hope of earth.” You’ll find everything you need – handouts, primary sources, photos, teacher instructions
It’s a perfect fit for the next few weeks between now and November 19th.
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