Little Note, Long Remember: Lincoln and the Murk of Myth at Gettysburg
Civil War Era Studies; History
Book Summary: This collection of essays, from some of the best-known scholars in the field, answers that question. Placing the Address in complete historical and cultural context and approaching it from a number of fresh perspectives, the volume first identifies how Lincoln was influenced by great thinkers on his own path toward literary and oratory genius. Among others, Nicholas P. Cole draws parallels between the Address and classical texts of Antiquity and John Stauffer considers Lincoln's knowledge of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. The second half of the collection then examines the many ways in which the Gettysburg Address has been interpreted, perceived, and utilized in the past 150 years. Since 1863, African Americans, immigrants, women, gay rights activists, and international figures have invoked the speech's language and righteous sentiments on their respective paths toward freedom and equality. Essays include Louis P. Masur on the role the Address played in eventual emancipation; Jean H. Baker on the speech's importance to the women's rights movement; and Don H. Doyle on the Address's international legacy. From the Publisher
Chapter Summary: The short story of the Gettysburg Address is that it was a surprisingly short speech - all of 272 words - delivered by Abraham Lincoln as part of the dedication ceremonies for the Soldiers' cemetery at Gettysburg, on November 19, 1863, four-and-a-half months after the climactic battle of the American Civil War there. But the long story is that no single American utterance has had the staying power, or commanded the respect and reverence, accorded the Gettysburg Address. [excerpt]
Guelzo, Allen C. "Little Note, Long Remember: Lincoln and the Murk of Myth at Gettysburg." The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln's Greatest Speech eds. Sean Conant (Oxford University Press, July 2015), 147-172.