1863-11-19 Gettysburg, USA / New birth of Freedom / Neue Geburt der Freiheit / Novo nascimento da Liberdade / Nuevo nacimiento de la Libertad

The civil rights of women, immigrants, American Indians, and many other groups also hung in the balance following the Civil War, and they continue to be discussed today. When looking at the term ‘New Birth of Freedom’ with regards to American Indians, things get a lot more complicated.

When the 14th amendment was passed granting African Americans the right to citizenship and the equal protection of laws, American Indians were effectively ignored legally, as the amendment and the rights of American citizenship did not apply to them.

The Native American peoples of the United States are descendants of the original inhabitants of the American continent who crossed into North America via the Bering Straits of Alaska from north-eastern Asia.

The date of the crossing is variously estimated at between ten and twenty-six thousand years ago. It is thought that there was no mass movement but rather a continuing series of migrations by small groups over a long period of time.

1980 Census counted 1.418.195 Indian persons within the American population. More than half  live in towns or cities, about 861.000 Native Americans live on or adjacent to Indian reservations.

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivers what will become one of the most famous speeches in American history, at the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Using just 272 words, Lincoln articulated the meaning of the Civil War for a public that had grown weary of the conflict.

For some time, Lincoln had been planning to make a public statement on the significance of the war and the state slavery. In early November, he received an invitation to speak at the dedication of part of the Gettysburg battlefield, which was being transformed into a cemetery for the soldiers who had died in battle there from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863.

From July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, the invading forces of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army clashed with the Army of the Potomac under its newly appointed leader, General George G. Meade at Gettysburg.

Casualties were high on both sides: Out of roughly 170,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, there were 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederates killed, wounded or missing.

Four score and seven years ago 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 battle-field 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.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

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