Enunciation: “States what is given and what is being sought from it.”
[Given] Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war,
[Sought] testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
Exposition: “Takes separately what is given and prepares it in advance for use in the investigation.”
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
Specification: “Takes separately the thing that is sought and makes clear precisely what it is.”
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
Construction: “Adds what is lacking in the given for finding what is sought.”
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
Proof: “Draws the proposed inference by reasoning scientifically from the propositions that have been admitted.”
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—
Conclusion: “Reverts to the enunciation, confirming what has been proved.”
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln Demonstrates the Nation Will Live
The Gettysburg Address starts out with the Given: “Four score and seven years ago …” The Sought from the Enunciation is “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” The Exposition expands on the Given: “We are met on a great battle-field of that war.” The Specification restates more precisely the Sought: “We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.” The point of the Gettysburg Address is that the nation might live. Lincoln then goes through a Construction. The Proof states what is needed for the nation to live:
1) “… to be dedicated here to the unfinished work…”,
2) “…to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…”,
3) “…take increased devotion to that cause…”; and
4) “… highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—”.
In the Conclusion Lincoln reverts to the Sought from the Enunciation, stating “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The key phrase is that this nation shall not perish from the earth.
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Copyright 2012 by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften; all rights reserved.