« Sake | Main | Tea »

Lincoln at Gettysburg

I was astounded that such an incredible book could be written about a speech that lasted only 272 words, but Garry Wills has done just that in Lincoln at Gettysburg. Wills dives into details about the political climate of the time, the structure of the speech, and many details about Lincoln that help show how the speech was written and why it had the reverberating impact that it did. With my spotty English, political, and historical background I know there are many pieces of the book that I just missed. This will be a great book to pickup and reread in a few years time.

20: "The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration." The authors' comment about Lincoln's speech.
31: "This displays Lincoln's normal reluctance to improvise words as president." A true testament to the time and effort that went into the speeches of the time. Anything said would inevitably end up in a newspaper and at such a difficult time for America, every word counted.
38: "He altered the document from within, by appeal from its letter to the spirit, ..." The Gettysburg Address in subtle ways helped transform the way the Constitution was viewed.
53: "Restraint deepens passion by refusing to give it easy vent."
59: This section provides a great breakdown of the Gettysburg Address and how it compares to an Epitaphios.
69: "The services will consist of music, prayer, an oration, a formal declaration setting apart the grounds to burial uses, and the Apostolic Benediction."
71: "..., as part of the nineteenth century's fascination with death in general and with cemeteries in particular."
80: "Towering genius disdains a beaten path."
101: "It was at this point in the argument that Lincoln distinguished between the Declaration as the statement of a permanent ideal and the Constitution as an early and provisional embodiment of that ideal, to be tested against it, kept in motion towards it."
171: Lincoln was very adapt at telegraph speak.
175: "In his brief time before the crowd at Gettysburg he wove a spell that has not, yet, been broken... he called up a new nation out of the blood and trauma."