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Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Essay

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Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King were two very similar orators who wanted to achieve almost identical goals. Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States and the leader of the Anti-Slavery Republican Party. His speech was delivered on the nineteenth November 1863 mat Gettysburg during the ‘Great Civil War’. His primary objective was to abolish slavery and he did this partly by indirectly telling his audience, such as, purposely forgetting his status and addressing his ‘Fellow countrymen’ with intense respect which consequently reflects his beliefs in equality. Martin Luther King, a Baptist Minister, was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He performed his speech almost one hundred years after Lincoln’s speech on the twenty eighth August at Lincoln’s memorial. King believed in egalitarianism and he also wanted to end segregation; this is what both orators set out to do.

Both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King played pivotal roles in advocating for equality and justice, leaving a lasting impact on American history. Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, delivered during the tumultuous period of the Civil War, aimed to abolish slavery and promote equality. Similarly, Martin Luther King, a Baptist Minister and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, delivered his iconic speech at Lincoln’s memorial, echoing the ideals of egalitarianism and striving to end segregation. The works of these two influential figures continue to inspire generations, prompting further examination and analysis.

Lincoln and King have similar purposes for their speeches but targeted them in different ways. Influenced by the great legend Mahatma Gandhi who also himself was a non-violent freedom fighter, King wanted to gain black people’s freedom the same way as Gandhi, in a non-violent protest. Lincoln had a similar contractual obligation. He was to abolish slavery. He conveyed this in his concise speech ‘for the people’. Both King and Lincoln have implicit messages in their speeches. Lincoln, apart from trying to abolish slavery, also promoted ‘The honored dead’ and making people understand what their ‘fathers’ had done for them and what is left for them to do. King, on the other hand, apart from trying to gain black people’s freedom, evokes a feeling of disgust by the use of metaphors to induce an image of the ‘governor’s lips’, ‘dripping with the words of interposition and nullification’ which evokes a sinister feeling within the audience which King hoped to achieve as it would divert the ‘Negro’s’ mind and evoke a feeling f disgust towards the government.

King targets his audience cleverly. He explicitly targets the majority of the black people, who still, ‘one hundred years later’, and ‘must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free’. This clearly shows that King is telling his audience that even today after ‘one hundred years’ the ‘Negro’ are, ‘ still not free’. He implicitly talks to the ‘governor’s’; concurrently he is talking to the ‘Negro’ community by changing their views towards the ‘governor’s’. King is trying to provide a vivid reflection for the ‘Governor’s’ to make them realize what they are doing and how much better they could make if they abolish slavery and put an end to segregation. Alternatively, Lincoln’s audience was probably affluent white people from Northern US. Although King had the advantage of the TV, Radio, media and Microphone, Lincoln’s speech was just as well heard as King’s speech.

The use of emotive words engages both King and Lincoln’s audience. King unifies his audience at the ‘table of brotherhood’ which, apart from unifying the audience also has a religious impact on the black people as they were extremely religious and an indirect reference to Jesus and his disciples would have caused immense unity between the audience. This metaphor apart from providing unity, it also is a very peaceful metaphor as it includes everybody. In contrast, Lincoln believes that their ‘nation’ is ‘under God’. These religious references amalgamate the audience and make them think that they are doing this for ‘God’ and that they are ‘God’s children’.

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Both orators structure their speeches in similar ways. The speech is structured in chronological order as it bequeaths a rhythmic feel. Firstly they talk about what their ‘fathers’ had to go through to get them this far, then they move into the present where both speech makers clearly make it noticeable that they talking about ‘now’. King introduces his future ingeniously by stating that he has ‘a dream’, which circuitously shows what he wants it to be like in the near future for his ‘four little children’. This poignant language also evokes sympathy not just for King but also for people around them who are going through the same traumatic experience.

Different tones area applied by both orators to conjure up diverse feelings. Lincoln uses a sincere tone to compliment his feeling to abolish slavery when he addresses his ‘fellow countrymen’. On the other hand, King uses a powerful voice to ‘Let freedom ring’ and to strengthen the speech to emphasize his beliefs of ‘freedom’. Lincoln also has a sense of vigor in his tone which shows how the soldiers ‘nobly advance’ and which portrays the strength of his own voice as well corroborating other people simultaneously. Religious and biblical manners are used by both speechmakers, which has a great impact on the nation at the same time, as persons at that time, especially black public were very religious. Lincoln refers to the people being ‘under God’ which would convey a thought of great expectations in the minds of the listeners. King says that the ‘glory of the Lord shall be revealed’, which meant that if they work together, then they can create a better world for themselves and for their children, so if they stick together and protest they will see the reward.

Both raconteurs coerce their audience by the use of different strategies. They both use analogous strategies to portray their views. Lincoln and King use the same strategies; however, King uses them extensively. Both use the rule of three but King take one-step further and converts it into repetition. When King repeats ‘Let freedom ring’, it emphasizes how much the black ‘community’ wants ‘freedom to ring’. However, Lincoln repeats two words in particular, ‘great’ and ‘nation’. The repetition of ‘great’ show the importance that can be achieved out of a ‘great civil war’ to form a bond between the people present and to say, if we are a ‘nation so conceived and so dedicated’ then we can tolerate the hardship and pain of war. The use of emotive language evokes a more personal feeling. King refers to his children to add a sympathetic feel to his speech. He also uses biblical references such as when ‘the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning’ keeps his audience interested by implicitly saying it will be done and it grants hope to his audience. On the other hand, Lincoln’s use of emotive language is more biblical rather than personal. The only reference to a more personal feeling was when he talked about their ‘fathers’ to call to mind a nostalgic upshot and to say how disrespectful it would be to go against the equality that our ‘fathers’ created ‘this continent a new nation’.

King and Lincoln use alliteration in the same way. King uses alliteration to show ‘a desert state sweltering sweltering’, which too, portrays the immense heat of injustice. An onomatopoeic effect to give a sense of power to the ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ due to the repetition of the ‘P’.

Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln intentionally use language to persuade their audience to fight freedom in a non-violent disapproval. Both orators take advantage of the uses of language to achieve their primary aim. Lincoln juxtaposes the ‘civil war’ with ‘great’ to encourage the greatness of war and what can be achieved out of this battle to abolish slavery. King juxtaposes ‘the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice’. Apart from being a metaphor, alliteration is also inserted and an expectant pause is added to let the audience reflect on what King had just said. Both speechmakers, to transmit a compassionate emotion use emotive language.

In conclusion to my analysis Martin Luther King’s speech was the most effective only to the obvious reason that his was of a longer length so it contained more within it. Lincoln’s speech was nearly as good as King’s speech because he also interleaved messages inside his meaning which as a consequent added depth to his speech and made his speech almost as superior as King’s. King’s speech was good too for the reason that he could express his views openly as he had more time as well as more technology to reach more people.

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Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Essay. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2023, from
“Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Essay.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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