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Drama & Speech        < Previous        Next >


Lincoln's Birthday: Abe Out Loud


Today's Snack: They say Abraham Lincoln was so skinny, he looked like a bean pole, or the fence rails that he split with an ax out of logs as a young man. So for today's snack, slice celery and zucchini into long, thin sticks, and dip them with a few rinsed, whole green beans in ranch dip or some mayonnaise with mustard stirred in.






Famous Lincoln quotes, printed out






Memorizing lines from famous speeches is a great way to build your brain, and also to get to know the famous people who have shaped American history. One of the best of them was President Abraham Lincoln.


He had a wonderful way with words, and used fairly simple ones, which makes it enjoyable to quote him. Here are some of his most famous ones, below. You may need to look up the pronunciation and meaning of some of these words in the dictionary.


Write a code for you to remember the pronunciation of these words from Lincoln's quotes. Put the syllables that are emphasized in capital letters, and add a brief definition. For example, for the first word, you might write PROV-ih-dence - foresight, care and guidance of God.


Now look up the other words:





















Any time you are speaking in public - even in the classroom - it is important to know how to pronounce words correctly. Otherwise, your audience will think you are stupid! So get into the habit of looking in the dictionary to check how to pronounce unfamiliar words, and what they mean. You'll have a bigger vocabulary, which is a fantastic asset toward success.


These quotes have been broken up into phrases - partial sentences. You may want to take a breath in between each one, or at least just pause. Breaking up the quote in this way allows you to use your voice to emphasize certain words.


Often, the last word in a phrase deserves a little more attention. Speaking in phrases, rather than sentences, helps you convey, or deliver, the meaning better. You don't want to sound monotonous! Natural speech has hills and valleys of sound - it's like music - and so when you speak out loud to others, you should try to make your words have a pleasing pattern, and vary your pitch and tone.


As you read and memorize these thoughts, practice how to get them across well in your oral communication. If you understand what you are saying very well, you will naturally put the right inflection (in-FLECK-shun), or change in the pitch and tone of your voice, to bring the meaning out clearly.


Putting a speech or long quote into phrases also helps you learn how to balance the need to get these ideas out into the air . . . with the need to take in a little air while you're doing it. To BREATHE, in other words!


Beginning speakers often rush through their presentations barely taking a breath. It's not very fun to speak that way, and it stresses out the audience. Think of giving a speech as if you are participating in a conversation, only the other side is silent. Try to speak as you would if you HADN'T memorized these lines, but were saying them on your own.


So work on memorizing and then delivering these quotes phrase by phrase. If you break down any task into smaller chunks, like memorizing phrases out of a long paragraph, it makes it a lot easier.


If you are by yourself, then your assignment is to memorize these quotes, repeating them over and over until the "flow" is there. It should be if you are speaking these aloud straight from your own mind, not reading them off the paper in a boring drone. Practice into a mirror to let yourself see how natural or unnatural you look and sound.


Then say these quotes aloud to someone, get their feedback, and discuss Lincoln's ideas, and his impact on our country.


If you are in a group, then divide these quotes, memorize them, and recite the quotes aloud, taking turns.


You can split up longer quotes so that two or three or more students participate. Be sure to discuss the meaning of these quotes afterwards. And say them with feeling! These are some of the most important and most cherished ideas in American history.


Work on your public speaking skills as you do this project. Maintain eye contact fairly constantly with your audience, whether it is one person or an auditorium full. Keep your voice musical - allow yourself to speak with emotions and with highs and lows.


Neither speak too high or too low, too slow or too fast.


Speak from your gut, not your throat or your nose. You should be able to feel air coming out of your mouth if you put the palm of your hand in front of your face; that's how you know you are drawing breath from your lungs as you speak, which will give your voice more power.


Imagine, as you say these words, that you are Abraham Lincoln, and your job as President is to unite all of the states around the principles of freedom. Those principles commanded that the practice of slavery had to end. So let the passion come out in your voice. The best way to be persuasive is to mean what you say. People are smart, and they can tell a phony.


So "sell it" the way Lincoln did - and thank goodness we had a man like him in charge during those darkest days in American history. That's when our country almost split up because some of us actually believed that it was all right for one man to own another. Slavery is still going on in our world, especially in Africa and the Far East. So be ready to make a difference and help stop it. If slavery is not something that you should join Lincoln in speaking out against, I don't know what is.






If slavery is not wrong,


nothing is wrong.


I cannot remember


when I did not so think,


and feel.










Whenever I hear anyone


arguing for slavery,


I feel a strong impulse


to see it tried on him










If we shall suppose


that American slavery


is one of those offenses which,


in the providence of God,


must needs come,


but which, having continued


through His appointed time,


He now wills to remove,


and that He gives to both North and South


this terrible war


as the woe due to those by whom the offense came,


shall we discern therein


any departure from those divine attributes


which the believers in a living God


always ascribe to him?







When the conduct of men


is designed to be influenced,


persuasion -


kind, unassuming persuasion -


should ever be adopted.


It is an old and a true maxim, that


'a drop of honey


catches more flies


than a gallon of gall.'"







This declared indifference,


but as I must think,


covert real zeal for the spread of slavery,


I cannot


but hate.


I hate it


because of the monstrous injustice


of slavery itself.


I hate it


because it deprives our republican example


of its just influence in the world -


enables the enemies of free institutions,


with plausibility,


to taunt us as hypocrites -


causes the real friends of freedom


to doubt our sincerity. . . ."






"A house divided against itself


cannot stand."


I believe this government cannot endure,


permanently half-slave and half-free.


I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -


I do not expect the house to fall -


but I do expect it will cease to be divided.


It will become all one thing or all the other.


Either the opponents of slavery


will arrest the further spread of it . . .


or its advocates will push it forward,


till it shall become alike


lawful in all the States,


old as well as new -


North as well as South.






We are not enemies,


but friends.


We must not be enemies.


Though passion may have strained,


it must not break our bonds of affection.


The mystic chords of memory,


stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave


to every living heart and hearthstone


all over this broad land,


will yet swell the chorus of the Union,


when again touched,


as surely they will be,


by the better angels of our nature.









With malice toward none;


with charity for all;


with firmness in the right,


as God gives us to see the right,


let us strive on


to finish the work we are now in;


to bind up the nation's wounds;


to care for him who shall have borne the battle,


and for his widow, and his orphan -


to do all which may achieve and cherish


a just and lasting peace,


among ourselves,


and with all nations.


By Susan Darst Williams Speech 08 2010

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