Quote of the Day: The Gettysburg Address

 

Image result for the gettysburg address image“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” — President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863

Since Lincoln’s delivery 156 years ago, the Gettysburg Address has been parsed and analyzed for its meaning and importance.* I don’t intend to offer my own analysis, but rather to commemorate Lincoln’s eloquence on that day. This post’s title is referring to recent Ricochet posts with the title “Fewer Words” because I think Lincoln’s speech is one of the best examples of how brevity can improve communication.

On this aspect of the Gettysburg Address, I offer the following bonus quote:

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.” – David McCullough, 2002

It seems to me, relative Ricochet newbie that I am, that we are engaging here to express, clarify and test our ideas. If we can do that in fewer words, it will be because we are thinking clearly.

* Comments on the meaning and importance of the address are certainly welcome.

There are 16 comments.

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  1. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    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 on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not 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 it 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 here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we 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.

    Abraham Lincoln

    • #1
  2. Vectorman Member
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Lilly Blanch: If we can do that in fewer words, it will be because we are thinking clearly. 

    Fewer words is key, along with less jargon to a general audience. Unless known by the expected audience, the first usage of an acronym needs to be spelled out, such as ERA could be the Equal Rights Amendment or Earned Run Average.


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    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Lilly Blanch: It seems to me, relative Ricochet newbie that I am, that we are engaging here to express, clarify and test our ideas. If we can do that in fewer words, it will be because we are thinking clearly.

    Indeed.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    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 on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not 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 it 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 here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we 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.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Yep. That’s the whole thing.

    • #4
  5. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    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 on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not 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 it 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 here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we 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.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Yep. That’s the whole thing.

    It was a good thing to take a couple of minutes to read it again.  Each time I read it, I see a new aspect of it.

    • #5
  6. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Even Lincoln can be improved re brevity – see this.

    • #6
  7. James Hageman Moderator
    James Hageman
    @JamesHageman

    !

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Even Lincoln can be improved re brevity – see this.

    No, just no.

    • #8
  9. Lilly Blanch Coolidge
    Lilly Blanch
    @LillyB

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    It was a good thing to take a couple of minutes to read it again. Each time I read it, I see a new aspect of it.

    I wish the editors of The NY Times 1619 Project would read it even once and do the math.

    • #9
  10. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    One important point.  Four score and seven years ago is 87 years.  87 years before 1863 was 1776.  The birth of the nation is dated from the Declaration of Independence and not the ratification of the Constitution.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    One important point. Four score and seven years ago is 87 years. 87 years before 1863 was 1776. The birth of the nation is dated from the Declaration of Independence and not the ratification of the Constitution.

    That was the first United States. France is on their Fifth Republic. We’re on our Second.

    • #11
  12. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I memorized the Address in prep school for speech class. Even after 56 years it flooded back to my memory. I have been to Gettysburg often. My prep school was only 20 some miles away. It’s hard to visualize the  violence that took place there now.

    • #12
  13. Lilly Blanch Coolidge
    Lilly Blanch
    @LillyB

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    One important point. Four score and seven years ago is 87 years. 87 years before 1863 was 1776. The birth of the nation is dated from the Declaration of Independence and not the ratification of the Constitution.

    That was the first United States. France is on their Fifth Republic. We’re on our Second.

    Yes, Lincoln’s reference to our country’s founding in 1776 was and is extremely important to the concept of the union and the recognition of its ideals. That’s why I used the opening lines of the address.

    I think of the United States as a nation born in 1776, even though the enduring form of its government wasn’t established until the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. We observe that date, not June 21, 1788, when it was finally ratified, as Constitution Day. Obviously, we also celebrate Independence Day with a lot more fanfare than the former, and I think Lincoln’s connection of the Union itself to its founding in 1776 is a major reason.

     

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    The speech had a huge impact on China. It effected Dr. Sun Yat-Sen quite alot.

    • #14
  15. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Lilly Blanch: This post’s title is referring to recent Ricochet posts with the title “Fewer Words” because I think Lincoln’s speech is one of the best examples of how brevity can improve communication.

    Of course, then a Ricochet editor took “Fewer Words” out of the title to say, “Quote of the Day.” :-/

    Read more Ricochet, dear editors.

    • #15
  16. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Brevity is a virtue only when in service to profundity which might otherwise get lost in excess verbiage.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgZN0caTvxc

    • #16

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