Note on the Gettysburg Address

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The
Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration
in American history…the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical
phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is
genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not
logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into
the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the
Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to
the cause of self-determination — that government of the people,
by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth.
It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers
in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was
the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern
themselves.

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