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July 5, 2015

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Lincoln@Gettysburg Examines the Role of Telegraph During Lincoln’s Presidency | DVD Pick

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lincolnatgettysburgLincoln@Gettysburg. 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2013, released in 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608830299.
Gr 9 Up–Narrated by David Strathairn (the actor who portrayed Secretary of State William H. Seward in Lincoln), this film offers an intriguing look at two familiar topics, the battle at Gettysburg in July 1863 and President Lincoln’s famous address a few months later. The documentary reveals Lincoln’s utilization of the telegraph for communication with his generals in the field, with the use of historical photographs, battle reenactments, and commentary from historians and writers, including Harold Holzer, Eric Foner, Jeff Shaara, and General Colin Powell. In 1863, a crucial year of war, General Robert E. Lee invaded the North, and just before meeting Union forces at Gettysburg, telegraph wires were cut and Lincoln was left waiting for news until the battle’s final day, July 4. The carnage left people stunned. As news spread, there was a call for a national cemetery at Gettysburg, and Lincoln was invited to speak at the dedication. Knowing that newspapers would cover the event and telegraph his message across the nation, Lincoln carefully crafted a 272-word document that sustained democracy and inspired hope for war-weary citizens. He resolutely believed in the words of the Declaration of Independence and in technology, in this case the telegraph, to enhance his powers of control and leadership. History classes studying the Civil War can utilize this outstanding film for a fresh look at a well-worn topic and to contemplate how Lincoln would have used Twitter or other social media.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly at Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Mt. Carmel, IL

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