Classroom Activities

  1. Edward Everett quotes a number of ancient Greek writers. What does Everett gain by doing this? Was this popular at the time or was it part of his personal speaking style?
  2. Some have said that ceremonial speaking, also known as epideictic, changed after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Do epideictic speeches today sound more like Everett or Lincoln? Prepare examples to support your position.
  3. Everett was the featured speaker at Gettysburg, not Lincoln. Are there speakers today that would be featured ahead of the president at a similar event? What makes this person a good speaker?
  4. First, read Ronald Reagan’s speech about the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. Compare and contrast Reagan’s speech with the speeches of Everett and Lincoln. Obtain a copy of the video of the speech. How is the speech enhanced or harmed by watching Reagan speak?
  5. How is the Civil War talked about in America today? How did your secondary school teachers talk about the war? If there are those in the class that were educated in different parts of the country, are there differences in their interpretations?

Student Research

  1. Lincoln’s speech has been hailed as one of the most important and greatest speeches in American history. What did Lincoln think about the speech? Did he have other versions? Find a collection of Lincoln’s letters and papers at the library and find any mention of his speech at Gettysburg.
  2. What was the immediate reaction to the battle at Gettysburg? Go to the library and find two newspaper accounts of the battle, one from a Union newspaper and one from a Confederate newspaper.
  3. Think of another great speech in American history. What was the immediate effect of that speech? Go to the library and find two newspaper accounts from the day after the speech was given. Did the newspaper say that the speech was great?
  4. Gettysburg is just one of many important sites in American history. Many towns have memorials that most people do not know about. What important events or people are commemorated in your hometown? Select one and write a speech informing people about this person or event and its bearing on your community.
  5. Write two short speeches for a ceremonial event (e.g., a dedication of a building, a funeral, etc.). Write the first speech in a style similar to Everett’s. Write the second speech in Lincoln’s style.

Citizenship Resources

  1. America is one of many countries that engaged in a civil war. Find another country that has engaged in a civil war since 2000. Write a fact sheet that collects the basic information about this war, such as who is fighting, how it started, what they are fighting for, and if there is a plan for peace from the two sides or from an outside group.
  2. The Confederate flag was the symbol of the southern army. Some states have this flag as part of their state flag. Read about this issue and write a 400 word statement about your position on the contemporary use of the Confederate flag.
  3. One of the core issues of the Civil War was slavery. Some have suggested that all descendants of slaves should receive reparations. Think of two arguments in favor of this action and two arguments against it. With a classmate take opposite sides and discuss the issue. Try to support your arguments and refute your opponent’s argument.
  4. There are organizations that seek to educate young people today about the aims of the Confederacy. One group is the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Visit their website at http://www.hqudc.org/. Navigate their website. What is the stated purpose of this organization? How do they interpret their purpose in contemporary terms?
  5. Search the Web for other organizations that are dedicated to memorializing the Civil War or the preservation of documents from that period in U.S. history. How do they define their mission statement? What activities do they continue to sponsor? How do they characterize the war and its relevance to U.S. history? How is Abraham Lincoln remembered? And is Edward Everett mentioned?

Last updated May 3, 2016