From the Publisher
“This book offers an extraordinarily thorough examination of the words, concepts, and literary associations of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Its arguments about the connections of this famous speech to the King James Bible are convincing; its examination of connections to Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer, and landmark statements of American political history are provocative in the best way.”
Mark A. Noll, author of The Civil War as a Theological Crisis
“A. E. Elmore demonstrates Lincoln’s skill as a wordsmith and shows in intricate and persuasive detail how his language in the Gettysburg Address closely reflected both the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Lincoln borrowed from these texts, refracted the words through his own experience and sense of rhythm, and produced the most elegant public address in American history. Elmore’s book should be essential reading for anyone interested in the language, ideas, and impact of Lincoln’s statement.”
John B. Boles, author of The South Through Time: A History of an American Region
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - James A. Percoco
Proving to be a prodigious researcher when tackling weighty issues, Elmore convincingly argues that Lincoln was a master at making biblical and literary allusions in his greatest speech as well as in pulling from the likes of Euclidian geometry, Shakespeare, and John C. Calhoun, among other slavery apologists. While on the surface this seems like nothing new, it proves to be quite revelatory. Wieck attributed Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to his understanding of New England minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker and Wills presents the Gettysburg Address as an American version of Pericles's Funeral Oration, but Elmore digs deep into the religious context of the time and fleshes out more completely here than other writers Lincoln's wealth of understanding of the Bible. To read this book is to cast aside all images of Lincoln as an infidel, an accusation he lived with, but rather to see a man so attuned to phrase, meter, and pace of elements of the Bible that he is able to take scripture, apply it to the narrative of American history, and elevate his rhetoric to a place that few subsequent American presidents have been able to do.
[....] At work here as a writer, Elmore, a professor of law, builds his case for his argument much in the way Lincoln would for a client. It is hard not to escape Lincoln the lawyer at work on these pages as well as he prepares his remarksthe ultimate argument being one of the greatest speeches in history. Delving into texts, such as the English Oxford Dictionary and other etymological references from western literature, the author demonstrates his understanding of the role and development of language over time, a language that Lincoln was able to take to transcendent heights.
_JAMES A. PERCOCO teaches United States and Applied History at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia. He is the author of Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments (2008) and is history educator-in-residence at American University in Washington, D.C.