It’s the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address; the “little speech” that made a big impact.
Abraham Lincoln’s carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with “a new birth of freedom,” that would bring true equality to all of its citizens. Lincoln also redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.
I was thinking of which version to post to celebrate the sesquicentennial, and it occurred to me that this clip from Ken Burns’ The Civil War is perfect: You get David McCullough’s gentle narration of the day’s events, Shelby Foote’s drawling explanation of Lincoln’s “failure”, and Sam Watterson reciting the speech in that flat, Midwestern accent which lends an authenticity to the whole thing. (Plus – hey, Ashokan Farewell.)