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Comparison of 2 Presidential Speeches Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Addre

Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is one of the most famous speeches in American history, learned by heart by many schoolchildren, with phrases that have rung down through the ages. The speech is not merely of historical importance but also serves as a prime example of rhetorical structure in spite of the fact that it was probably "dashed off" by its author almost as an afterthought because of the need to make a speech at a certain place for a specific occasion. Bill Clinton's speech for the Memorial Day celebration at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1993 has not been around long enough to compare to Lincoln's speech in terms of how it might affect subsequent generations, and indeed the speech itself lacks much of the rhetorical flourish and power of Lincoln's address. The two speeches differ in a number of respects on such matters as rhetorical situation, content of the speech, symbolic representations, reception of the speech, and so on.

For both Lincoln and Clinton, the rhetorical situation was a speech by a sitting president at a war memorial. In Lincoln's case, the memorial was being dedicated at a battle site from the still-waging Civil War, while for Clinton the site was a memorial to the Vietnam War, ended for nearly two decades, though still a sore point with much of the nation. Lincoln's speech was delivered on a specific occasion related to the place where the speech was being given, since a cemetery was being dedicated, while Clinton was speaking on a national holiday commemorating the dead of all American wars. Lincoln was received warmly and politely, though he did not escape criticism from his political enemies for this speech as for other acts of his presidency. Clinton was booed by some in the crowd and was challenged by certain veterans and some political enemies for being at the war memorial at all because he had never himself served in the military and had indeed avoided the Vietn...

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Comparison of 2 Presidential Speeches Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Addre. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:42, March 18, 2019, from