In November of 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln boarded a train for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His heart was heavy with the cost of two years of a bitter civil war, his body fatigued and feverish from what was likely the onset of smallpox. In the midst of personal grief and political turmoil, he drafted and delivered one of the greatest political speeches ever written. In roughly 270 words, the Gettysburg Address (or “America’s Gospel,” as Tom Brokaw called it) managed to pay tribute to fallen soldiers, dedicate a cemetery in their honor, and crystallize the central dilemma at the heart of the American experiment. In this episode, Jacke looks at ten sentences that defined a nation and asked it to look deeply into its past, its future, and its soul.
Additional listening ideas:
- For more on race in America, try our three-part series on the dispute between James Baldwin and William Faulkner, starting with Baldwin v Faulkner.
- Like presidential history? We talked about Thomas Jefferson in our episode on Phillis Wheatley and in our conversation on The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature with Farah Jasmine Griffin.
- In the mood for something different? You might like the episode in which Jacke and Mike revisit J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
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