We are now engaged in a great civil war, testing whether [a nation dedicated to equality] can long endure.

(A) ** the war is testing how long such a nation can survive

(B) the war is testing how long a civil war can go on


Concept note-1: -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.

Concept note-2: -“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

Concept note-3: -What does Lincoln mean by calling the Civil War a test of the ability of the nation to “long endure"? If they can survive this civil war and still stay as a union, they will stay a union.

Concept note-4: -The same fate, they feared, could await them. That was why Lincoln at Gettysburg described the war as the great “testing” whether a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” would survive or “perish from the earth.” It did not perish. Northern victory preserved the nation created in 1776.