to be heard but to be understood. More than fifty per cent, of the words used in his great speeches are words of one syllable. He would say, "I dug a ditch," instead of, "I excavated a channel"; "I lost out by bad luck," instead of, "I was defeated by a fortuitous combination of circumstances." It is for this reason that he is quoted more than any other American except Franklin, another master of short sentences.
In the Gettysburg Address, the greatest short speech in the English language, he used two hundred and seventy-one words. Of these exactly two hundred are words of one syllable, or almost seventy-four per cent. There are whole lines of short words, such as: "That these dead shall not have died in vain." This use of the short word gives his sentences a force like the impact of a bullet.
Again, Lincoln was a master in the use of Anglo-Saxon. We are not a Latin race and the speaker or the writer who can use language from our Saxon and Viking forebears will always most strongly appeal to us. Examine some of Lincoln's best sentences, such as:
The father of waters again goes unvexed to the sea.
That this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As sure as God reigns and school-children read, that black, foul he can never be consecrated into God's hallowed truth.