How Abraham Lincoln Created the Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln (1809 –1865 ), the 16th President of the United States, was an incredible leader. He has several compelling habits. As I was studying them, I tripped over something I found fascinating.

How did Abraham Lincoln create his famous Gettysburg address?

According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lincoln had an unusual method for assembling his speeches. He would jot down his thoughts on bits of paper and store them in his roll-up desk. When it came time to create a speech, Lincoln would pull out the bits of paper and compose his speeches. That is also how he wrote the Gettysburg address. This address is one of the most famous speeches in United States history. Lincoln delivered it at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. The Gettysburg battle marked a turning point in the Civil War

A Sidebar: The Gettysburg Address Was Short!

It is noteworthy that the Gettysburg address was short. It took only 266 words and two minutes for Abraham Lincoln to deliver it. It is about as fast as my shortest Brilliance Nugget. It shows that a well-written short piece can be more impactful than a lengthier treatise.

Lincoln Knew The Value of Capturing Thoughts When They Occur To You

It seems Lincoln knew that when a thought occurs to you, you have to write it down right then and there. He used bits of paper. That was the medium available then. 

Modern Ways Of Capturing and Finding Your Thoughts

Today, we can still use paper, of course. Yet, we have more choices. Note-taking apps (e.g., Notion, Evernote) allow you to jot down your thoughts as they occur to you. They are searchable via a “search” feature. You can add tags to them to make finding them even more straightforward. 

You can set up such apps to function like your “second brain,” a concept developed by Tiago Forte. I recently shared with you about the app “Notion.” It has transformed the way I capture my thoughts and ideas, how I write, and how I live and work.

It was pretty cool to find out that Lincoln did essentially the same thing. If apps like Notions had been around during his lifetime, I suspect he probably would have used them.

I’m Curious

  • Are you using an App like Notion to capture your ideas?
  • If not, how open are you to giving it a try?

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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