The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864

Gettysburg Address

When we read slowly, we are overcome with the power of what Lincoln said. Was this the case for the people that day?

We just do not know. Very few of them left any detailed diary accounts of the speech. What we suspect is that people felt the power and importance of the words, but were not able to respond to them.

Poets know the truth of this. It is very rare that a listener, or a reader, can truly take in great words on the first listening. Of course this begs another question: How did Lincoln, who had so little formal education, reach such a height of oratorical skill? To the best of our understanding, he slowly and painfully acquired it through laborious practice. Only now, toward the end of his life, did he have the capacity to “throw off” words of such transcendent purpose.


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