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Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Review by Gwen Toliver

Designs by James Daugherty
Albert Whitman & Company
250 South Northwest Highway, Suite 320
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068

This is a significant year for Civil War historians and all who value our nation’s history. One hundred and fifty years ago, the battle of Gettysburg was fought in Pennsylvania during several terrible days in July. Four months later, President Abraham Lincoln stood on the battlefield and delivered ten sentences that would be considered one of the most memorable speeches ever.

James Daugherty believed that it was important that children would forever remember Lincoln’s speech and he used his tremendous talent as an artist to that end.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a beautiful, full-text rendition of the speech. Each sentence is given a two-page spread with Daugherty’s amazing artwork. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you will soon discover why his artwork is considered worthy of sweeping murals. The colorful imagery is incredibly detailed, challenging the reader to spend time in deep study.

Some of the paintings even cause you to consider other battles that have been fought since Lincoln spoke those epic words. This should not be surprising since Daugherty illustrated this book shortly after the end of World War II.

While this is technically in the picture book genre, the subject matter and gorgeous artwork is appealing to all ages. As the sister of a battlefield guide at Gettysburg, I have a special interest in books relating to the topic. I love to find resources like this that make an important part of history attainable for everyone.

One final thought which also happens to be the one negative aspect of the book. At the end of the book, Daugherty gave his own interpretations of the paintings. While most of his comments give additional historical facts, the page that illustrates the “the last full measure of devotion” makes a strong, politically skewed statement.

Daugherty says, “The totalitarian dictator rides over his shackled people. Below, his red-handed followers raise their chained hands in the Fascist salute, while a blindfolded liberal faces a firing squad.” While the latter part of this sentence may not concern some people, it did bother me and I felt that Daugherty was inserting his ideological bent in a completely non-factual statement.

Another part of his interpretations explains that the heroic people pictured were “the great prophets and builders of the United Nations”. This is another statement which reflected his liberal leanings and I felt would have best been omitted.

Use discretion in covering these portions with your children. As a Christian, I believe that we should interpret everything in light of Scripture as the Bereans did in Acts 17. Instances like this should cause us to discuss and consider what we believe and why we do. One and a half centuries after the Battle of Gettysburg, people continue to debate the rights and wrongs of the war.

These liberal-leaning statements at the end of the book were a negative feature for me, but the gorgeous illustrations throughout the majority of the book make this a resource worth buying, regardless of your ideological beliefs.

This 2013 reprint of Daugherty’s pictorial interpretation also includes a new afterword by historian Gabor Boritt. Available through, the hardcover edition is $19.99.

Product Review by Gwen Toliver, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2013