This study guide will help you analyze the speech “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances, and intention.
Presentation of the speech
Title: “The Gettysburg Address”
Speaker: Abraham Lincoln
Where: Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
When: 19th of November, 1863, during the American Civil War
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) served as the 16th US President and led the US through the Civil War (1861-1865), which resulted in preventing secession (the withdrawal of the Southern states from the Union) and abolishing slavery. Lincoln is one of the most famous US Presidents of all time.
He delivered “The Gettysburg Address” in the aftermath of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War which took place at Gettysburg. The address was part of the formal inauguration of the Soldiers' National Cemetery (today known as the Gettysburg National Cemetery). The address has become one of the most famous American speeches and is often cited and alluded to in contemporary culture.
Abraham Lincoln begins his Gettysburg Address by reminding the audience of the founding values of the American nation inscribed in the Declaration of Independence – liberty and equality.
He continues his speech by exploring the motive behind his address: honoring those who fought in the ongoing American Civil War. Lincoln claims that dedicating a piece of land to war heroes is a little thing Americans can do, but it does not compare with soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice on the battlefield.
The speaker argues that the living must honor the dead by fighting for the cause of the Union and promoting a representative government in the interest of the American people.