The Civil War is integral to American history. Sectional tensions increased in 1860-1861, leading to the Confederate States of America’s creation by eleven slaveholding states that withdrew from the Union. The Confederacy fought for independence while the Unite States fought to compel the seceded states to denounce their hopes of forming an independent nation. The Union armies sought to invade the Confederacy and weaken its power to fund the war. The Confederacy sought to prolong the war to an extent where the loyal citizens would concede defeat. The Union and the Confederate forces engaged in a three-day war from 1 July to 3 July in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in what is historically referred to as the Battle of Gettysburg (Fletcher,2021).
Over 51000 casualties were reported, 3,100 U.S. troops were killed, and 3,900 Confederates died during the deadliest battle. The battle of Gettysburg led to the defeat of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, and led to the Union victory. The Union soldiers were interred in the new cemetery near the battlefield. On 19 November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered an address and tied it to the principles of liberty and equality of all men contained in the Declaration of Independence. The Gettysburg address reaffirmed America’s founding principles of liberty and equality for all men, gave new meaning to the Civil war, and changed the Americans’ perception of their nation, government, and society.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg address reaffirmed the nation’s founding principles of liberty and equality. He began his speech by remembering the founding fathers and the birth of a new nation founded on freedom and committed to ensuring all men’s freedom (Lincoln, 1994). The founding fathers’ intents for the new nation were the Declaration of Independence. However, most white enslavers continued with slavery because the Constitution lacked the power to prohibit slavery, hindering the attainment of freedom for all men. Lincoln’s address strengthened the Union and gave birth to new freedom that would empower the Union to abolish slavery. By defeating the Confederates, the Union could create systems to abolish slavery through the Constitution. Lincoln believed that war alone could not abolish slavery.
Lincoln’s address redefined the Civil War as a fight not only for the Union’s Independence but also for human equality. The fact the white enslavers practiced slavery implied that the principle of human equality was just a written philosophy but missing in practicality. The civil war tested America’s ability to enhance equality, which the dead soldiers achieved when they defeated the Confederates. The address also changed the American’s perceptions of America by inspiring them to fight toward preserving the integrity of the Union while ensuring all people are equal as stipulated in the Constitution. The speech obliged Americans to join in pursuing the founding ideal of equality with the enslaved’ desire for liberty.
President Lincoln’s address has been significant in continuing America’s political freedom and promoting unity. The country is focused on political democracy and solving partisan problems through fair and democratic processes. The Union Army adopted Lincoln’s address to the war, which led to their victory. The address also led to the abolition of slavery through the 14th Amendment and the rebirth of the values of equality and liberty premised on the American Constitution (Batra, 2018). Although liberty and equality are yet to be achieved in contemporary society, America is committed to preserving these values through reforms such as Equal Pay Act and gender equality.
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Batra, R. (2018). The Fourteenath Amendment and the Poverty of African American. Journal of Business Diversity, 18(2), 10-14.
Fletcher, W. A. (2021). Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In Rebel Private Front and Rear (pp. 59-72). University of Texas Press.
Lincoln, A. (1994). Gettysburg address, 1863. Lakeside Press.