Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Three-Minute Speech: Lincoln’s Remarks at Gettysburg

A Three-Minute Speech: Lincoln’s Remarks at Gettysburg

Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrator:  Albert Lorenz 
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 978-0689856228

The story of the new democracy in the new country began in such a grand way and with such wonderful words full of hope and great optimism. Unfortunately for the United States, slavery was already a necessary evil for many, an evil they were not willing to relinquish. Though slavery and the words "all men are created equal" contradicted one another, the government did its best to avoid the issue, allowing slavery to persist. It was inevitable however, that the matter would have to be settled at some time and when that time came there was anger, and fear, which was followed by strife and then war.

It was a war unlike any other and it tore families apart. On and on it dragged with enormous numbers of men dying on the battlefield and because of disease and bad food. One battle which was a turning point in the war took place in a little town in Pennsylvania. It was here, in Gettysburg, that the President, Abraham Lincoln, gave a famous speech which became known as the Gettysburg Address.

The speech itself was surprisingly short and yet its power is something which is still talked of today. It has been quoted over and over again and is considered to be one of the greatest speeches ever given.

By discussing the ideas of the Founding Fathers, slavery, the civil war, and the battle of Gettysburg, in a conversational style which will appeal to young readers, the author shows us how the ideals of democracy were born in the United States and then how they were shown to have practical flaws. Though the concept of "all men are created equal" is a wonderful one, the existence of slavery made a mockery of it. By including the actual speech at the back of the book, the author lets his readers see for themselves what all the fuss is about, and why this speech moved so many people then, and continues to move people now. This book will give young readers a real taste for how history can be brought to life when it is placed in the hands of a great storyteller.