November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address

lincoln-gettysburg-addressThis Month in History: Dressed in a black suit, tall silk hat and white gloves, 151 years ago this month Abraham Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address to a crowd of onlookers in what is now Lincoln Square. They had come to hear what the President would say about the bloody battle on July 3, where 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured.

Lincoln had arrived on the day before, and was escorted to David Wills’ home, where he is known to have finished the 272-word speech. It described his vision for “a new birth of freedom” for America, and while reaction to the address was mixed initially, today the Gettysburg Address is considered one of the greatest speeches of all time. Read more to learn why.

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 now 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. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate… we cannot consecrate… we cannot 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.