Why the Gettysburg Address Is Still a Great Case Study in Persuasion

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, a war that began on April 12, 1861. It was just a month after the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. He had not won a majority vote – far from it. He’d only won about 40% of the popular vote, and some states didn’t even put him on the ballot. He only scraped a victory thanks to a very close four-way race. But despite this unlikely beginning during turbulent times, Lincoln went on to become one of the country’s most revered presidents, and one of its best orators. His best-known speech is, of course, the Gettysburg Address. It’s often studied for its rhetoric, and deservedly so – there are gems of psychological persuasion hidden throughout.

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