This week you learned about the American Civil War (1861-1865), a conflict that, very simply, was about slavery. However, as President Abraham Lincoln suggests in his famous The Gettysburg Address, more than slavery was at stake in the Civil War.

Consider the following passage from Lincoln’s The Gettysburg Address:

“Four score and seven years ago [in 1776] our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” In this passage, Lincoln states that the Civil War is being fought so that the nation “might live.”

In this discussion, please respond to the two bolded points below.

Why do you think that Lincoln refers to the year 1776 at the start of his speech?
In what way is the Civil War a conflict for the very livelihood of the United States? Please explain your answer.


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