Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Designs by James Daugherty
2013 (Albert Whitman)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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First of all, before you read my thoughts about Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, you should click on this link to read the back story for the publishing of this book. It's a great article from Publisher's Weekly. As described in the PW article, James Daugherty's artwork is epic. If you have studied art history, you will recognize the WPA style. These murals are so striking when you view them. Daugherty ties the Civil War to World War II which is fresh in his mind since this book was originally published in 1947. I was struck by this sentence that he wrote in the foreword:
Again we have stood at the close of a great war, the most terrible in history, with the unfinished task before us.
I never put these two events together, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. The foreword by itself is fantastic. Each section of the address is accompanied by a monumental mural. "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent..." brings forth pilgrims on the left side of the mural with Franklin, Jefferson, Paine and Washington on the right side. Interpretations from the artist for each mural are included in the back matter which is such a helpful addition. There are a total of 15 paintings in the book. Another pleasing part of this book is an afterword from present day. It was written by Gabor Boritt who is Professor Emeritus at Gettysburg College. Boritt's essay provides necessary background information about the Gettysburg Address.
The first use of this book that popped into my mind was to have students take a section of the address and create their own artistic rendering. This would be a very interesting project. Another thought is to take the last part of the speech, "...and that government, of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" and have students discuss and write about whether they think this phrase applies to our government today. Albert Whitman also provides a teacher's guide at this link. With this year being the 150th anniversary of the battle and address, it is a perfect time to find this re-release and use it in your classroom.