Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. But that was over 200 years ago. Accents change over time, so there’s no attempt in the video to emulate a Kentucky accent.
Lincoln’s best known speech was the Gettysburg Address.
Four score and seven years ago, our four fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
What’s the significance of the word proposition? Well, according to the Clarendon biography I have on Abraham Lincoln, the man was interested in mathematics. The word proposition, in Lincoln’s learning of math, is a statement that is waiting to be proved.
So, President Lincoln took this opportunity to say that the war was now not just about “preserving the union”, but about proving something that the founders thought true and natural. It was about bringing forth this proposed equality, the same equality that the Founders of the Republic saw as self evident.
It may seem a contradiction, that something self evident would need to be proved. However, there are times when the obvious becomes unclear, or when what should be simple becomes complicated.
People can become blinded to the truth. They can forget the obvious. And Abe Lincoln thought that they needed reminding.
Lincoln’s address goes further than our little video.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met in a great battlefield of that war. We come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
If you talk to some people from the Old South, you’ll hear different names for that war. War between the States. War of Northern Aggression. Guerre de secession. So, what’s the significance? Why can’t everyone just say “civil war.”
A civil war is often a war of ideology. The Spanish Civil War of the 20th century pitted conservatives (sometimes called fascists because of the aid they got from Axis powers) against Liberals and Socialists (and a few communists and anarchists, who took their own side.)
The English civil war was a war were royalists fought republicans. In the Roman civil war, the faction for Caesar ended up establishing a new empire in the place of the old Republic.
But it’s more than that. Did you see the film Gods and Generals? In the opening to that film, the general Robert E. Lee refuses to serve in the Union army and says that “Virginia is my country.” The idea of a “civil war” means that the United States was one country before the war. If it’s a war “between states”, then it’s many countries.
This is related to “states rights” issues as well. Was the United States a union of many distinct entities who were bound together only by choice, or was it a unified nation that delegated power down to the state level? The different terms for a war can reflect different ways of seeing the present, as well as the past.
And here, Lincoln, is speaking of preserving the Union. The term civil war says that the confederacy is a rebellion, and it is still part of the union.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
We learn this in school. My teacher had great pleasure in pointing out that the irony that we now remember the speech itself more than the battle.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the short impression of Abraham Lincoln. And yes, we do take requests, especially if you contribute to our production budget.