The Overall Message of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

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 ‘The Four Freedoms’ speech was delivered by Franklin D Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. The United States was officially neutral in World War II. Initially, this speech highlights the finer aspects against the American neutrality in the War. The speech hints at the two dimensions of freedom: ‘freedom to’ versus ‘freedom from.’ Scholars have interpreted ‘freedom from…’ as negative liberty and ‘freedom to…’ as positive liberty.

The context is of utmost importance in any address, which too for a top politician, and Roosevelt exploited it well. He wanted to win the confidence of his people for a policy change for active participation of America in World War II. Therefore, he began his address on a note of warning to the Americans, with the assertion that the nation’s international position was ‘unprecedented’ and raised apprehensions about the security of America by stating that ‘at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.’ What was that threat? He did not specify and he was just trying to create deep anxiety for his audiences. By stating next, that past leaders of America did not aim ‘at domination of the whole world,’ he was making it clear about the new role of America in the world scenario of politics and the duties and responsibilities involved in it.

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To highlight the necessity of participation in World War II, he chose to belittle the importance of the previous wars and said they were not ‘a real threat against our future or against the future of any other American nation.’ Quickly, he had built up the suspense rhetoric well which created some apprehensions like who was the enemy precisely? What were the intentions of the enemy so-projected? What threat he constituted? At the sixth minute of his speech, the President was more vocal about describing the enemy. He specified the enemy as ‘the new order of tyranny’  who had the hidden agenda and ‘that seeks to spread over every continent today.’He said ‘every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world-assailed either by arms, or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.’This observation was highly important. He regaled his audience and warned them that the enemy was treacherous on every count. President Roosevelt was referring to the enemy dictators and their armies, the Communist countries in particular. With this clear-cut rhetoric, he was drawing the dividing line that the Axis powers planned to attack United States. He tried to create the grim picture of the scenario by stating that the enemy deployment in the form of secret agents had already begun and he made the strong assertion that the ‘great numbers of them are already here.’He tried to ring the alarm bells by stating that the enemy could start the war without provocation on the part of America and he tendered the evidence from history, by stating that such nations, ‘did not wait for Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit an act of war’ . By creating the fear of strike by the enemy through his rhetoric, Roosevelt succeeded in forging the psychological unity amongst the people of America, irrespective of party affiliations. He projected such powers as the permanent enemies of America. Though initially he was soft, later he created the grim picture about the intentions of the enemy and the threat that he posed to all the democratic countries. He mentioned, ‘What the downfall of democratic nations’ would ‘mean to our own democracy.’ He mentioned the words like ‘Freedom,’ ‘Nation’ quite often and argued later that ‘American Republics is today in serious danger.’ In the end Roosevelt succeeded in creating a picture of serious threat to democracy at the hands of the cunning and immoral enemy. That was what the President expected his people to believe; and people believed him at that time.

President Lincoln delivered the 272-word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There is a deep connection between the recruitment of African American soldiers to fight in the Union army and the overall message of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, these two were never coincidences, this paper will shed more light upon the same.

Abraham Lincoln was the first American president who fought against slavery, he believed in complete parity and he fought hard to eliminate slavery and racism in America. Abraham Lincoln started recruiting black soldiers when there was a dire need, the army was very short of work force and soldiers were very badly needed, black soldiers were recruited when the others failed to show interest and there were apprehensions whether these black soldiers would discharge their duty well or not. The doubts became evident questions because the black soldiers were former slaves and some thought that they would intentionally fail because they had been slaves and mistreated in America.

The other soldiers and civilians thought that this was a very unwise decision by Lincoln, they also thought that it would never work when put into practice but Lincoln had already done the impossible. He never needed anyone’s approval, he had already successes partially in his aim to eliminate slavery in America.

Black soldiers proved everyone wrong and they also proved Lincoln right when they fought valiantly and won several crucial battles, this was certainly a masterstroke by Lincoln and the one that no one saw coming. The battle of Port Hudson was primarily won because of black soldiers and they all worked in unison to win it for the trust that Lincoln had showed in them.

The Black soldiers were mistreated when they were captured, they were not treated as prisoners of war but they were treated like slaves and Lincoln had several issues with it. The captured black soldiers were often sold and forced into slavery which did not go down too well with the president.

Lincoln wanted the same protection for these African American soldiers as the white soldiers; the white soldiers were never forced into slavery when they were caught and they were always treated like the prisoners of war. Lincoln always wanted parity and he fought for it right till the end.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the recruitment of African American soldiers both are deeply connected, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address stresses the need for parity in America and Lincoln firmly believed that the only way of restoring parity was by giving the African Americans a chance to be included in the army so that they start getting accepted by their peers and by the civilians who they were fighting for but initially this endeavor of Lincoln failed severely but gradually he succeeded in all his endeavors.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address made it very clear that all men are equal and no one is superior or inferior, the address also made it really clear that the president does not want nay slaves and any form of slavery to exist in America but the whites who had been dominating the blacks were completely against this whole idea initially.

Recruiting African American soldiers was never a coincidence; it was a preplanned move by Lincoln so as to eliminate slavery from America. The black soldiers faced rejection once again when their peers and when the civilians who they were protecting, thought that they would intentionally lose so as to avenge their past but the African American soldiers proved themselves by playing a key role in several crucial battles and ended up winning many crucial battles but their fight did not stop there. They were not treated like prisoners of war when upon being captured, Lincoln wanted this to change and he achieved whatever he wanted to achieve although his success was very hard fought but it was certainly worth it.

To conclude it is fair to say that there was a strong connection between the recruitment of African Americans to fight in the Union (northern) Army and the overall message of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.   

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