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I have two questions regarding the Gettysburg Address.

1) Double That

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.

Actually a double that isn't a problem. I am just wondering whether "so" is omitted before them. This is how I understand this line:

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives so that the nation might live.

I believe that should be the one that has to be omitted. I can understand what it means but it still baffles me.

2) Meaning of word "Government"

the most famous line of the address,

that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

what does the word "government" indicate here? A governing body or political system?

I've learned that if the word "government" is used with zero-article, it means the political system of governing people while it means a government body when followed by an article.

However, I found that this rule is not always followed. I have seen articles or people saying it without the article even when they mean a government as a governing body.

Any thoughts?

  • This should really be split into two questions. Both sections are answerable. – Mick Jan 11 '18 at 8:49
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The first can be rewritten as "...who here gave their lives so that the previously-mentioned nation might live". In other words, the first "that" is a contraction of "so that" and the second means "the previously-mentioned". I agree that putting them next to each other is awkward but it's the sort of thing which might work fine when heard (which is the objective of a speech, after all), and only looks wrong when you see it written down.

In the second part, i believe "government of" means "the process of governing", ie the verb rather than the noun. You could replace "government" with "organising" to get a sense of the syntax.

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