Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

My daughter recently asked me about how she could improve her writing skills and I recommended Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Although just 272 mostly short one-syllable words, in direct language, it hit a chord that has rung through history. In fact, Lincoln was not the main speaker on that late autumn day in 1863. The main orator, Edward Everett, a very distinguished figure from Massachusetts, preceded the president at the dais with almost two hours of prose that must have challenged the standing crowd's stamina. Lincoln followed Everett and delivered his remarks with such brevity that a Philadelphia reporter John Young whispered "Is that all?" To which, Lincoln replied. "Yes, that's all." The Chicago Times initially dismissed Lincoln's words as "silly, flat, dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed oput at the President of the United States." But history would exonerate Lincoln. In fact, one of the first to recognize the weight of Lincoln's address was Everett himself who wrote to the president that "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes."Here is the original text.

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