Virginians' Responses to the Gettysburg Address, 1863-1963
Peatman, Jared Elliott
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By examining Virginia newspapers from the fall of 1863 this paper will bring to light what Civil War-era Southerners thought of the Gettysburg Address. This work is confined to Virginia not because that state is representative of the Confederacy, but because Southern reporting on the Address was wholly shaped by the Richmond papers. The first two chapters of this thesis reveal that Southern editors censored reporting on the Gettysburg Address because of Lincolnâ s affirmation that â all men are created equal.â The final chapter traces Virginiansâ responses to the Address up to 1963. Drawing on newspaper editorials, textbooks adopted by Virginiaâ s schools, coverage of the major anniversaries of the Address in the stateâ s newspapers, and accounts of Memorial Day celebrations, this chapter makes clear that Virginians largely ignored the Gettysburg Address in the twentieth-century while Northerners considered it an essential national document. In 1963, as in 1863, it was the assertions about equality that Southerners could not abide. This divergence of response, even in 1963, lays bare the myth of a completed sectional reconciliation and shared national identity.
- Masters Theses