Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address consisted of just 272 words. Yet few of us would argue that it remains one of the most significant, persuasive and moving documents created in the course of American History. Written in Lincoln’s cursive handwriting, it takes just a page and a half of (approximately) 8 x 10 inch Executive Mansion paper. It didn’t take 10 months to write; in fact it was written the day before it was delivered.
Lincoln’s speech put the War Between the States (as we here in the South prefer to call it, since civility isn’t part of any war – much less one between brothers) in context. The conflict would decide whether our great national experiment would continue.
The speaker prior to Lincoln droned on for two hours. Lincoln spoke for two minutes. No one but historians remembers the prior speaker (Edward Everett) but everyone remembers Lincoln and his words that day. Lincoln understood the critical nature of his message. In today’s terms it was “make or break.” He needed to be sure that everyone clearly understood the importance of what was before them.
The combined bill that just came from the U.S. House of Representatives is 1990 typewritten pages. What does that tell us?