The Gettysburg Address was delivered by the President of United States, Abraham Lincoln on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863. It was during the dedication ceremony of the soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg for the American soldier who died in the battle of Gettysburg. This was precisely four months after the battle of Gettysburg which lasted for two days and cost more than 8,000 lives and wounded close to 26,000 American soldiers. The speech was delivered in two minutes unlike that of the main speaker, Edward Everest which took almost two hours. However there have been controversies relating to the wording of the Gettysburg speech. There are five manuscripts to this speech; Nicolay copy, hay copy, Everett copy and Bancroft copy. It is believed that Abraham Lincoln changed the wordings of the final draft. It has been regarded one of the greatest speeches in the American history (Lillian Goldman law library, 2008 pg 1; American Rhetoric, 2010 pg 1).
The speech was so touching and inspiring as it emphasizes the importance of dying for one's country. He talked of the democratic America and the coming freedom: government of the people, by the people, for the people. He equally appreciated the efforts made by the dead soldiers by noting that no soldier had died in vain and conspicuously urged the war to move on in honor of their sacrifice. He noted that their efforts cannot go unnoticed and will forever be remembered. The notion of there being five transcripts describes the significance of the speech and the attention it derived. The period it took the president to prepare the speech, the content of the speech and the mode of presentation signify his eloquence and leadership skills. The silence and emotions that filled the aftermath of the speech confirms the gravity of the occasion and the importance of the sought freedom to the Americans.
However the speech was not enjoyed by many and was marred with criticism from the press and the political fronts in the United States. This led to his political influence decline and subsequent assassination. Notable is the criticism from Senator Charles Summer. While reading the eulogy for Lincoln on June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Summer termed the Lincoln's speech as a monumental act (Yogerst, 2008 pg 1). He further clarified that Lincoln was wrong in thinking that the world may not note nor remember of the efforts done by the dead soldiers. He stated that by then the world has already noted and will never forget especially after so many soldiers died and suffered inn the two day war. Many people felt the war was not relevant compared to the number of deaths. Both Lincoln and Senator Charles however saw and campaigned for the importance of dying for one's country.
Lincoln advocated for the war to continue while Senator Charles criticized the effects of the war. While Lincoln thought that the efforts offered by the American soldiers during the war might go unappreciated and be forgotten forever, Senator Charles believed that their efforts have already been recognized and will never be forgotten especially after thousands had died. Senator Charles even observed that Lincoln's speech is the one to be forgotten.
The Lincoln's speech quantified the civil war in relation to the American Revolution. A democratic America was subjected to war to determine its existence. Although Lincoln dearly appreciated the sacrifice made by the dead soldiers, he also used the platform to convince the living Americans to continue with the struggle so as to preserve the freedom of US. The crowd was in awe after the delivery of the speech as it was brief, under stable and significant. Although the speech was highly criticized by the press and his political enemies, it was effective as it came during chaos, unrest and sorrow. It indentified with the Americans at that point in time.