Keep in mind that, in 1776, the United States was a new kind of country with a different kind of
political philosophy. Its formation was known as "the Great Experiment" because it ventured into
new ground, and no one knew if such a government could survive. That is the idea Lincoln refers
to in this section of the speech: The Civil War was testing whether the United States, which was
founded on liberty and equality, could survive. Thus, Lincoln succinctly expressed the magnitude
of the Civil War: What was at stake was not simply lives, or money, or government control, but
the very foundations upon which the United States was founded.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow —