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Civil War - Gettysburg Address
Transcript of Civil War - Gettysburg Address
US Civil War
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
(cc) photo by Franco Folini on Flickr
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
Given in November, 1863 by President Lincoln
later became known as the Gettysburg Address
given at the dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg
he talked about of human equality in the Declaration of Independence
the desire for "a new birth of freedom,"
as well as the preservation of the Union and its ideal of self-government.
Abraham Lincoln's Springfield Home: Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, a time when the nation's long-standing division over slavery was flaring up, particularly in new territories being added to the Union.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum)
President Abraham Lincoln: In 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: CORBIS)
The Gettysburg Address, delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, is one of the classic speeches in American history.
From July 1 to July 3, 1863, the invading forces of General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army clashed with the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, some 35 miles southwest of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Casualties were high on both sides: Out of roughly 170,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, there were 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederates
As after previous battles, thousands of Union soldiers killed at Gettysburg were quickly buried, many in poorly marked graves.
Lincoln Delivering Gettysburg Address: At the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln (center) delivered the now famous Gettysburg Address
(photographed by Matthew Brady). (Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)
When Lincoln received the invitation to make the remarks at Gettysburg, he saw an opportunity to make a broad statement to the American people on the enormous significance of the war.
Lincoln wrote the speech on the train while he was traveling to Pennsylvania.
He probably wrote about half of it before leaving the White House.
On November 18, he completed writing and revising it that night.
On the morning of November 19, Everett delivered his two-hour oration on the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance, and the orchestra played a hymn composed for the occasion by B.B. French. Lincoln then rose to the podium and addressed the crowd of some 15,000 people. He spoke for less than two minutes, and the entire speech was only 272 words long.
The essential themes and even some of the language of the Gettysburg Address were not new. Lincoln himself, in his July 1861 message to Congress, had referred to the United States as "a democracy–a government of the people, by the same people." The radical aspect of the speech, however, began with Lincoln's assertion that the Declaration of Independence–and not the Constitution–was the true expression of the founding fathers' intentions for their new nation. At that time, many white slave owners had declared themselves to be "true" Americans, pointing to the fact that the Constitution did not prohibit slavery; according to Lincoln, the nation formed in 1776 was "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." In an interpretation that was radical at the time–but is now taken for granted–Lincoln's historic address redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.
On the day following the dedication ceremony, newspapers all over the country reprinted Lincoln's speech along with Everett's. Opinion was generally divided along political lines, with Republican journalists praising the speech as a heartfelt, classic piece of oratory and Democratic ones deriding it as inadequate and inappropriate for the momentous occasion.
In the years to come, the Gettysburg Address would endure as arguably the most-quoted, most-memorized piece of oratory in American history. After Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts wrote of the address, "That speech, uttered at the field of Gettysburg...and now sanctified by the martyrdom of its author, is a monumental act. In the modesty of his nature he said 'the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.' He was mistaken. The world at once noted what he said, and will never cease to remember it."
Public Reaction & Legacy
Did you know?
Edward Everett, the featured speaker at the dedication ceremony of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, later wrote to Lincoln, "I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."