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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



7. Slavery and
Freedom


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
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Activities
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Activities: Author Activities


Abraham Lincoln - Author Questions

Back Back to Abraham Lincoln Activities
  1. Comprehension: What kind of audience does Lincoln assume will be listening to his speeches? How do you think nineteenth-century audiences might have been different from audiences today?

  2. Context: Why do you think Lincoln chose the verse from the New Testament "A house divided upon itself cannot stand" (Luke 11.17) as the basis for his speech? What significance would this image of a threatened home have for nineteenth-century Americans? How might it have resonated with American ideals of domesticity?

  3. Context: Interestingly, Lincoln's now celebrated speech was not well received when he first delivered it on the battlefield at Gettysburg in November 1863. Apparently, it seemed too concise and simple to the audience, which preferred Edward Everett's lengthy two-hour sermon. Why do you think the speech was unsuccessful when Lincoln delivered it? Today the "Gettysburg Address" is often viewed as a model of eloquence. Why has it gained in popularity over time?

  4. Exploration: Today Lincoln is something of an American cultural icon--he is the subject of imposing monuments and his face even circulates on our money. What does Lincoln represent to contemporary Americans? Why is he viewed as such an important president? How does Lincoln's position within American cultural mythology compare to what you know about his biography and political choices? What kinds of myths are important to Lincoln's image?

  5. Exploration: The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., is based upon one of the most famous architectural monuments in the world, the temple to Athena found on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Why would the architects of the Lincoln Memorial want to use the Parthenon as a model? What does this allusion signify about Lincoln and about America? What does it mean that inside we find Lincoln seated rather than the gold and ivory statue of Athena?

  6. Exploration: Read "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," Walt Whitman's elegy for Lincoln. What does Whitman admire about Lincoln? Do Lincoln's speeches live up to this eulogy?




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