Gettysburg Address

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Lincoln at Gettysburg

150 years ago on November 19, 1863, four months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg to dedicate the national cemetery for the Union dead. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the brave men who died there and insisted that their sacrifice would increase the will of the people to fulfill America’s promise. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a rhetorical masterpiece delivered in less than three minutes, defined the war as necessary for the survival of the nation and its ideals.

This rare photo from a glass plate negative by Matthew Brady is the first–and possibly only–photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg.

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November 19, 1863: Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous 2-minute-long, 260 word speech at the dedication of a soldiers’ cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - where, in July of the same year, Union and Confederate forces fought the bloodiest battle of the entire war. In his speech, Lincoln affirmed the value of the Union’s struggle in the context of the United States’ founding principles of liberty and equality. Since its delivery, the Gettysburg Address has been absorbed into American culture as a national symbol and as an iconic, defining moment in its history. 

Text of the speech (of which several versions exist):

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

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 battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers Gettysburg Address

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War.

The speech reflected Lincoln’s redefined conviction that the Civil War was not just a fight to maintain the Union but also a struggle for freedom and equality for all. Although the speech consisted of only 272 words, it remains one of the most powerful and memorable discourses in American history.

Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on Ken Burns’s “The Civil War” site.  

Photo: Only known and confirmed photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg, Library of Congress

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

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 battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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July 3rd 1863: Battle of Gettysburg ends

On this day in 1863 during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg ended. The battle was a key turning point in the war with its decisive Union victory under George Meade which turned the tide in the Union’s favour. The Confederacy, whose forces were led by Robert E. Lee, were defeated and thus Lee’s invasion of the North was ended. The last day of the battle also saw Pickett’s Charge, a Confederate cavalry charge which was repulsed by Union fire and thus led to many Confederate deaths. The battle was the bloodiest of the war, and President Lincoln famously honoured the fallen with his Gettysburg Address.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s scientific response to the Gettysburg Address. Complement with Buckminster Fuller’s scientific revision of the Lord’s Prayer, then revisit Tyson’s selections for the 8 books every intelligent person on the planet should read

(HT Open Culture)

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November 19, 1863: Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought in July of 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech regarded as not only one of his greatest speeches, but also one of the most famous speeches in American history. It was five months after the battle and ten months after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln’s speech, though the most memorable, was not the main event at Gettysburg that day; the featured orator was Edward Everett, who spoke for over two hours at the dedication of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Lincoln, who was diagnosed with a mild case of smallpox following the dedication, delivered a short speech (less than 300 words long) in under three minutes as almost an afterthought. Everett later wrote Lincoln praising the speech, commenting that he would have been glad to have been able to do in two hours what Lincoln did “in two minutes”.  Others were not so effusive in their praise. A Democratic-leaning newspaper called it “silly, flat and dishwatery”.

Full text of the speech:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

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 battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Only one confirmed photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg exists. 

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The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: FDR’s View

Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:

“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.

“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.

“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.

“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”

FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.


Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He received very little academic training during his formative years.

By the time he came of age, his limited schooling from itinerant teachers amounted to an ability to “read, write and cipher.” Describing his childhood, he said, “It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up… Of course when I came of age I did not know much.”

However, Lincoln was an ambitious learner and eagerly devoured any book he could get his hands on, including those on law. An autodidactic approach to legal studies, along with his dedication and hard work, enabled Lincoln to become a practicing lawyer. He spent eight years on the Illinois legislature and traveled courtroom to courtroom for years. Lincoln said he viewed education as “the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” One of his law partners described his ambition as “a little engine that knew no rest.” Lincoln held presidential office from March 4, 1861 until his assassination on April 15, 1865.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here, dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion: that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” Gettysburg was the war’s bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties.

Photo: Buddy Secor

One of three photographs that show Abraham Lincoln arriving at Gettysburg for the consecration of the Soliders’ National Cemetery. Lincoln arrived around noon, and the headliner for the event was Edward Everett, who spoke for more than two hours. 

When Everett had finished, Lincoln got up and delivered the 272-word Gettysburg Address, which took about two minutes.

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Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’ on the 150th Anniversary

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

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 battle-field 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

– Abraham Lincoln

Nov. 19, 1863