Tagged: Lincoln

Annotated Gettysburg Address

 Listen to ‘Maladjustedd’ Podcast; Season 2 Episode 4

A Few Facts About the Battle of Gettysburg

  • After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863
  • The Confederacy hoped that by bringing the war into the northern states, northern politicians would abandon the war and normalize the South’s secession.
  • The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered a major turning point of the American Civil War. 
  • Estimated 51,112 casualties in this one battle, 31K Union, 39K Confederate; he bloodiest single battle of the entire war

A Few Facts About the Speech

  • Lincoln gave it November 19, 1863. He’d been working on drafts for a few days. The legend that he wrote it on the back of an envelope came from the fact that he continued to make notes and revisions even on the train right from Washington to Pennsylvania.
  • Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg
  • A few weeks after the burial process started, in October, a dedication ceremony was planned for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  The cemetery committee chose Massachusetts statesman and orator Edward Everett to deliver the main speech. The committee asked President Abraham Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks.”  At the November 19 ceremony, Everett spoke for two hours on the causes of war and the events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg.  

Lincoln’s Speech with Mr. Mallory’s Commentary

“Fourscore 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.

A “score” is 20 years, so 4 score and 7 is 87. 1863-1776=87, he’s talking about the Declaration of Independence. The important part isn’t the date it’s the “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Conceived in liberty means that the United States was based on principles of self-government and limits of law and order even on our rulers. That was the British tradition of rights and freedoms going back to the Magna Carta in 1215 AD. The first part of the Declaration of Independence is a treatise on “Social Contract Theory,” the idea that people agree to set up governments existed to protect our rights and basic needs together- we enter a contract together. Without spelling it out Lincoln is insinuating that the Southern states had broken that contract and violated the Constitution when they rebelled and left the union, insisting instead on a form of tyrrany, which included slavery.

Which brings us to “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The part of the Declaration which we all remember is “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Maybe what Jefferson meant was that American colonists had as much right to self-government at the Dukes and Barons and Aristocrats in the House of Lords in parliament, but Lincoln was now making it clear to the mostly poor immigrants fighting for the Union in the Civil War, that this war wasn’t about federalism vs. antifederalism, Southern politicians had threatened to leave over slavery, they left over slavery, so make not mistake; if we believe that “all men are created equal,” are we willing to fight for it?

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 

Lincoln wanted to make the stakes clear. If we were willing to just roll over and let the confederacy secede, we didn’t really believe in liberty or equality. That’s why this was a test. It was testing not only whether genuine democracy could work after 87 years, and not only our resolve, but whether we really believed in the principles we’d been claiming to believe in for the last nine decades.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. 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. 

Thank you Captain obvious. Tell us something we don’t know. It’s printed right here on the program.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

Now That’s saying something both humble and profound. It’s not about him. It’s not about Edward Everett or Pennsylvania  Governor Andrew Curtin or the Mayor or town council of Gettysburg or the President and professors of Gettysburg Seminary or the members of the committee to establish a memorial there. It was about the thousands of soldiers killed, mortally wounded, injured and captured there. Soldiers fighting to keep the United States alive, fighting to keep liberty and equality alive. That’s who made it a holy place.

Dedicate, consecrate, and hallow are all synonyms. He’s using repetition for effect here. To make something holy (hallow) is to say that it’s special. To be consecrated means to be sacred- revered. Lincoln’s deliberately using religious sounding language. To be dedicated is to be set aside for a special purpose. This would no longer be farmland or wilderness, it would be a cemetery. And not just a cemetery, a special one for military dead. A place that needed to be remembered- an event that needed to be remembered. But Lincoln was about to go on to make a point that it wasn’t even the soldiers that we need to remember, but we need to remember the cause that that died for- and to take up that cause.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 

On the one hand- little did he know right? That more than 150 years later people all over the world remember, and study this little 2 minute speech. On the other hand, had you ever heard of Edward Everet before I mentioned him a little bit ago?

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. 

Lincoln wants us to be dedicated, consecrated, hallowed- not to get too creepy or too religious but to be “baptised” in the blood of the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg. To be commissioned for a mission, to be initiated into the sacred brotherhood of knights fighting for the same things they were conceived in and dedicated to. Woof! That;s heady stuff.

This is more than just a coach’s pep talk at halftime in the locker room to a team losing an important game. This is a call to something holy. Something akin to saving the world. Something our future depends on. He’s evoking destiny itself. 

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 

Devotion is another religious sounding word. To be devoted means absolute commitment. A devout believer isn’t casual. They’re disciples, pilgrims, apostles. They’re on a mission for God. And what’s the cause? Just sending Lee’s army back to Virginia? Restoring the Union? Punishing treason? Or was it something bigger? Was it preventing the death of the nation? 

Remember what Lincoln said the war was testing? Whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated could long survive. Conceived how? Dedicated to what?

“Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s calling us to fight for liberty and equality. Principles worth dying for.

— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain 

Resolve: to decide firmly on a course of action. But not just an empty promise like a New Year’s resolution. To die in vain- without success or a result, to die for no good reason. If we’re serious about a memorial (or about Memorial Day), it’s not enough to acknowledge their deaths or just admire their cause. If we aren’t also dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, then it doesn’t really matter that they died. If we’re waving the Confederate flag, why’d they die? If we think we’re better than everybody else because of our skin color- which, by the way, we didn’t choose, what was the point?

— that this nation 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.”

For impact sake, I should let Lincoln have the last word, but I want to mention that Lincoln, again is using religious imagery, he’s evoking resurrection. He’s ending on a high note- giving us hope that that nation, that’s being tested whether or not it can long survive- it can live again, and it’s new life can be stronger, more robust and more honest- living up to its promises of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not just for wealthy land owning white males, but for everybody.

Is it any wonder than 100 years later in 1963 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would invoke both the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln in his famous “I have a dream speech,” where he shares that he had a dream that one day this nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed. Again, religious language, a creed is a statement of belief- what it is you hold self-evident; like, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Finally, I want to let you know what I’ve tried to teach my Civics classes for the last twelve years- That “OFthe people, BY the people, FOR the people” bit- the one part everybody seems to remember without even trying to memorize the Gettysburg Address? Please try remembering this about it:

How can government be OF the people? Because you don’t have to be born into nobility or aristocracy. If “all men are created equal,” that means, as British philosopher John Locke postulated, we’re ALL capable of governing; whether that’s voting, having input or actually running for office.

How can government be BY the people? Because that’s our right. To say that we’re “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights” means that we all have the inherent prerogative to participate and be represented, to have some influence. That’s the true meaning of liberty- not that we can do whatever we want whenever we want, but that we are free from any one person or segment of society controlling all the rest of us entirely. 

How can government be FOR the people? In practice, this is really hard, but in theory- look at Thomas Jefferson’s “Social Contract Theory;” “…to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government.” John Adams and James Madison made similar statements, that the very purpose of government was to protect the rights and well being of its people, not to preserve the power and privilege of some ruling class as had become the case in most of Europe by 1776. It’s not us and them anymore. We ARE our government. How can we be here for eachother?

I guess that’s another lesson. But don’t stop asking yourself;

“How can we ensure that these dead would not have died in vain?”

And “How can we make sure that this nation 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?”

I don’t know about you, but personally, I think it’s be being devoted to the same cause to which they gave their last full measure of devotion- by being dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” 

I know that not everyone agrees with me, but that’s America.


Created Equal


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,”
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

“…our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
-Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.'”
-Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

EQUALITY :  the condition or state of being the same in number, amount, degree, rank, or quality (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equality)

No, I’m not perfect. Far from it. Plenty of people are smarter than I am. Tons are more attractive than I am, more fit, healthier, more athletic- God knows plenty of people are wealthier than I am, and much more talented. So what in the world did Jefferson mean?

Surely he didn’t mean women? He says all “men,” after all. Obviously he didn’t mean Black people, did he? After all, he himself OWNED slaves, right?

Perhaps that’s exactly why King said what he did 187 years later. Because America was claiming to believe something in 1776 but we never quite lived up to it.

Yet just 87 years after Jefferson wrote what he did, Lincoln essentially argued that America was founded on and for equality- “dedicated” to that very proposition.

You can argue for or against Conservatism, Progressive-ism, Liberalism, Libertarian-ism, Pluralism, Corporatism, Capitalism, Federalism or Socialism, Veganism, Vegetarianism, and Materialism- but if you claim to an American, you by definition have signed on to be an egalitarian.  To believe otherwise is… well, un-American.

EGALITARIANISM 1:  a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs 2:  a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equality)

No, we’re not all equal in height, weight, IQ, assets, skills, popularity, prominence, or even (unfortunately) opportunities. But according to the Constitution, we are all entitled to equal protection under the law and due process of law and we are all entitled to the equal protection of our rights and liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights.

Or is this not “self-evident?” How dedicated are you to this proposition? How ready and willing are you to step-up and live it out?


HungryEye; Lincoln in Dali Vision

hungryeye-LOGOI’ve been thinking about starting a vlog. There’s tons of them out there, trust me, I have no delusions of grandeur or driving ambition for fame. As a teacher I read a lot about the three steps in the “new literacy;” Discover, Process, and Share. So, I’d like to demonstrate this practice for my students.

When I teach Art students about Art History, I try to share a sampling of exemplar painters’ works and introduce concepts of perception, design, expression and execution techniques. Because the purpose is to inform my student’s own work, and we’re limited by time, I don’t tend to focus on which works are my personal favorites or why. This series would give me an opportunity to do that.

Art impacts the lives and thinking of both viewers and makers. Since I’m not a teenage YouTube star, I’m going to process these discussions by writing first, before recording. Feel free to share your own responses to these artworks in the comments on these blog posts. If I follow through with this, I’ll embed the videos into these posts. If I don’t (for whatever reason, time, obstacles or inclination) I figure I’ll still write some burbs about famous paintings here anyway, just as a blog and not a vlog.


First up, Salvador Dali’s 1976 Surrealist painting, “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea; Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)” better known as “Lincoln in Dali-Vision.”

Please try not to be put off by the nude woman’s tush. While a lot of Dali’s work explores psycho/sexual themes, legend has it that his wife Gala was his only female model.

This thing is over six feet wide by eight feet tall. Dali got the idea for this from an article in Scientific American magazine which reported about the smallest pixelation at which an image can be reduced and still be recognizable by the human mind. Dali used just 121 pixels to represent President Lincoln.

I think that Dali deals with four things which were important in this work; Faith, Civics, Love, and Art. That may be why I like it so much, because I can identify with these same four aspects of life.

On the top of Lincoln’s head, Dali painted Jesus being crucified on the cross, floating in the blazing sky. This puts the spiritual and the intellectual together. While I’m Lutheran where Dali was Catholic, my faith is central to my life and my faith life tends to be more cerebral, with a focus on theology and reading- rather than being just emotional or dogmatic.

Obviously you can’t think about Abe Lincoln without thinking about America or Democracy. I have a double major in Art and History. In the mornings I teach eighth grade Civics and then teach MS/HS Art the rest of the day. Naturally combining Art and Social Studies appeals to me. The more I read the Gettysburg Address, the more I appreciate it. While my religion cautions me not to turn politics or politicians into false idols, I kind of see this image a little bit like an old Byzantine icon- especially with the gold colors and the mosaic qualities that come from the grid Dali used.

Sure, Gala and Dali may not have been paragons of purity and virtue, their marriage somehow held together for almost 50 years. Not only was she his model, but also his agent. Dali is known for his both sensual and affectionate depictions of Gala whenever she modeled for him. My wife is my best friend. I can’t see God and representative democracy and federalism are abstract concepts which I can’t hold or talk to, so often my wife seems more real and consequently more important that faith or patriotism, even though she and I both believe in putting God first.

I feel like I have a bit of a connection color field painter to Mark Rothko because he committed suicide on the day I was born. His brand of minimalist abstract expressionism was to paint huge areas simple, non-objective color. His intention was that viewers could be with these color fields as with religious icons and be induced into a contemplative state, almost like in devotion. Lost in eternal meditations, escaping the tyranny of everyday hassles. I think that the soft shades and glows of each cube in Dali’s painting have a Rothko-esque feel to them.

The Dalis weren’t introverts, they socialized with other artist couples like the Magrittes in the 20’s and 30’s and later with pop stars and entertainers in the 50’s and 60’s. I’m convinced that no matter how proud he may have been of his own prowess as an artist, Dali also loved art so he viewed, enjoyed and explored art and talked with other artists about art. Ultimately, this painting isn’t about Jesus, Lincoln or Gala, it’s about optics. It’s about our eyes and how our brains process and interpret images. It’s about Art.

If a painting being about God, nations “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” love for a beautiful woman and ART isn’t enough to make it a great painting, I don’t know what is.

What will my eyes be hungry for next time? Come back in about a week and we’ll see. Stay hungry, my friends.



3 Core Democratic Principles