Tools of Persuasion in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Topics: Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, Battle of Gettysburg Pages: 2 (630 words) Published: December 10, 2007
Abraham Lincoln started out in life as a log-splitter in Springfield, Illinois, blossomed into one of America’s greatest president, and had his life ended too early in the President’s Box of Fords Theatre. His Gettysburg Address demonstrates why we now see him as that great man—he did not antagonize, nor did he show disrespect to the dead, even those who fought for the Confederacy. He treated them all as people of one country, and honored them all equally. Lincoln’s respect for every man living, fighting and dying in the war gave the Gettysburg Address its lasting power. Using primarily pathos and ethos in his speech, Lincoln gave hope not only to his grief-stricken audience but to an entire nation torn apart by war.

Lincoln’s use of pathos is most apparent in his deliverance of The Gettysburg Address. The speech is brimming with examples of emotionally charged words such as “hallow”, “unfinished work”, “nobly advanced” and “that these dead shall not have died in vain” that help his audience to feel what he feels. Lincoln’s ability to make the audience empathize with him was one of his greatest powers as a president. He is very careful when addressing the deaths of those who have fought for both the Union and the Confederacy, showing care for both sides. “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled have, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.” Lincoln draws upon his audience’s own emotions to make his point, using their grief and horror at the carnage to “consecrate” the field. Pathos is strong in the Gettysburg address because of Lincoln’s own empathy to his audience.

Lincoln’s use of ethos is not so much to make his audience believe he is trustworthy, but to show them that he respects them, and that he feels their grief. His words are simple, but direct, and he isn’t patronizing. Instead of criticizing the Confederacy, or mocking their (significantly larger) casualties, Lincoln honors all the dead of both uniforms. In his speech,...
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