Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

By George P. Fletcher | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 2
RADICAL
GETTYSBURG

“To many he [Lincoln] seemed like a minor prophet come back to life out of the Old Testament.”

—John Dos Passos

With his carefully crafted two-minute speech at Gettysburg, the best political address in the nation's history, Lincoln created a Nomos, a world of norms and meaning, for comprehending the mass slaughter on American soil. The new understanding of why we were in mourning pointed to a resolution of the conflict and the beginnings of a new constitutional order. Rereading the speech now as the preamble to that new order, we can begin to understand the significance of the phrases so carefully chosen. The words of the Gettysburg Address are too powerful, they represent too much concentrated energy and wisdom, to be absorbed in the two minutes that it takes to read them slowly. I suggest that we proceed and listen, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, to these words heard so often.

The first sentence states the heart of the matter and sums up the past, present, and future of the American commitment. 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. This sentence alone was enough to formulate the preamble to the new constitution. It harbingers the themes that follow in the address and that will come to dominate American life for the rest of the

-35-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 292

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?