Historical Figure & Event

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Event Description

Invited to speak at the consecration of a memorial honoring the dead at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most well-known speeches in American history. While the speech is extremely short-just 267 words-Lincoln used the opportunity both to honor the sacrifice of the soldiers and to remind American citizens of the necessity of continuing to fight the Civil War. The Gettysburg Address stands as a masterpiece of persuasive rhetoric.

Classroom Activity

Middle and high school students should be able to do a close reading of the Gettysburg Address by using the Pre-AP strategy called SOAPSTone. Print a copy of the Address. Then, ask students to identify and discuss the following:

  • The Speaker of the text
  • The Occasion of the speech
  • The Audience (both present and after it was distributed)
  • The Purpose that Lincoln had in delivering it
  • The Subject matter discussed
  • The Tone of the piece Another interesting exercise for high school students is for them to compare Lincoln's Address with those of other famous orators, such as President John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech.

    While younger students may find the text of this speech too advanced, they can certainly begin the process of identifying the purpose, structure, and means of persuasive speech and writing.
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    Websites

    This site contains the full text of the Gettysburg Address as well as rough drafts and the only known photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg.

    The Library of Congress offers this collection of over 30,000 items by and about Abraham Lincoln. The collection includes letters and other items from Lincoln's presidency, as well as sheet music, pamphlets, and other items that reflect Lincoln's life and times.

    This site ranks the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century as determined in a nationwide survey. The speeches were rated on two criteria: rhetorical artistry and historical impact.

    Related Resources