Comparison of Two Speeches of Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln became a prominent figure in the history of America due to his personal contribution into development of his country. His speeches are even nowadays cited, as the greatest examples of political and personal thought. In the period between 1861 and 1865 President Abraham Lincoln made two famous speeches – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. The Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address are all devoted to the concept of American freedom and democracy, still there are some important differences between these documents and speeches.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address he pronounced after the events of the July 1-3 in 1863, when up to 51.000 Americans were killed, lost or injured during the Battle of Gettysburg. In his speech Abraham Lincoln declared 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.” (Lincoln 1863). He spoke about the sacrifice of the men from the North and from the South, he called this battle a statement of principle. It is possible to trace the connection between his speech and the positions of the Declaration of Independence, stating that all men were born equal. His Second Inaugural Address President Abraham Lincoln presented on March 4, 1865, devoting it to the Christian culture of the Nation. His speech was marked with theological positions and references to God and the Bible: “Let us judge not, that we be not judged.” (Lincoln 1999). He stated that “the Almighty has his own purposes.” And “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” (Lincoln 1999). Moreover he let the audience know that according to his position the reason why his country had to pay such price with the Civil War, was the institution of slavery, developed and supported by generations of Americans – “every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword … ‘for the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Lincoln 1999). The positive outcome of the Civil War was the end of slavery. Lincoln related the equal position of all individuals, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, with God-given right for equality to all humans. His famous expression “Nation under God”, used in the Gettysburg Address, later became famous and was integrated into Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

Abraham Lincoln did not picture the events and the setting in his Gettysburg Address, he spoke about the “final resting place”, adding serious emotional weight to his speech, reinforced by the fact that people were standing exactly on the same battlefield, where so many other people gave their lives. The speech mostly consisted of small commonly accepted words, still it was described as maintaining the honorific language. Examples could be found in the phrases, containing repetitions of the words like “noble”, hallow”, “devotion”, “honored” and so on. Lincoln was passionate about his idea of continuing of the work of those “brave men, living and dead, who struggled” at that battlefield. The speaker did his best to pass the idea of common responsibility for the country to his audience. To the same extent he was passionate about the Declaration of Independence. Using the idea of equality, proclaimed there, Lincoln did not mean to issue just a political message. Instead he perceived this idea as his major life mission statement and wanted to guide the whole nation correspondingly.

Gettysburg Address and Declaration of Independence are utterly important documents in the history of the country, formation of democratic norms there. These two documents are closely related to each other, although they were established in different situations. The Declaration of Independence was produced by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and its major focus was related to absolute separation from the British Empire. The speech of Gettysburg Address was written by the President Abraham Lincoln, praising the unity of the nation in a cemetery dedication for the soldiers, participating in the Civil War. Certainly there are a lot of differences between the two documents, irrespective of the fact that both of them are the supporting documents for democracy in the country. Democracy according to these documents is understood as the combination of Liberty, Life, Pursuit of happiness. However, the documents have different purposes and this is their major difference. Declaration of Independence was made in order to provide support for the newly formed nation, getting rid of the impact of the British Empire, whereas the speech of Gettysburg was the consolation for the soldiers, who had sacrificed their lives for the sake of the uniting of the alienated nation by the end of the Civil War. Both documents have also different organization. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson with a number of premises. These premises were devoted to the natural law, which states that all individuals were born equal in the world and they should correspondingly have their equal rights for liberty and happiness. Also he mentioned that the task of the Government was to secure these rights to people. In his Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln refers to the past, present and future. He mentioned the values, possessed by the origination fathers, who created a new nation, then discussed the current events and challenges and finally referred to the future, assuming that the nation would still be able to overcome those challenges. Lincoln’s speech is much shorter and his arguments are also lessened. Gettysburg Address is similar to the Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln in this relation, as in the Second Inaugural Address he insisted that the effects if the Civil War should be used for the sake of creating better future for the nation. But, his Inaugural Address is different because of its religious tone. The speaker addressed God and the issues of slavery, hoping that the Northern and the Southern States would find the way towards reconciliation. “Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease.” (Lincoln 1999). The repetition of the word “neither” is meaningful, as the speaker wanted to underline that both sides had to reconsider their attitude to the conflict and contribute their efforts towards solving the conflict and create a better future for the whole country. Building parallels in his speech between the North and the South – “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invoked His aid against the other”, Lincoln intended to show that both parts of the country belong to the same God and to the same nation and they should be united and not opposed to each other.

Overall, The Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address are all devoted to the concept of American freedom and democracy; however, each of them was written during different historical moments and with different purposes, corresponding to those moments. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson as the route for establishing of the independent nation, Lincoln’s speeches aimed at uniting the nation upon overcoming the challenges of the Civil War and racial segregation within the nation.

Works cited:

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Champaign, Ill. : Boulder, Colo. :Project Gutenberg ; NetLibrary, 1999. Print.

Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. Dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, 19 Nov. 1863

The Declaration of Independence. US Const., art. 1, sec. 1. Print.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]
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