Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A Hidden Subtext of the Gettysburg Address?

Gerard N. Magliocca

I've been doing some research on the history of the draft and came across something interesting. On November 9, 1863, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a 3-2 decision (Kneedler v. Lane) holding the federal military draft unconstitutional. Ten days later, Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.

Reading the Address with this sequence of events in mind, the speech looks like a rebuke of the decision. Could that have been one of Lincoln's goals? Did anyone at the time pick up on this? I don't know, but I'm going to try to find out.


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