On November 19, 1863 — in the midst of the Civil War — President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech that defined the American experience during the ceremonies at the dedication of the Gettysburg Battlefield as a National Cemetery. His remarks lasted just two minutes, but the address has been described as one of the most important in history.
Lincoln concluded: “…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–” words that have been remembered with reverence.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Garry Wills.
One of the most distressing events of the 20th century happened in Dallas: November 22, 1963. President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy arrived at Love Field aboard Air Force One at 11:30 in the morning to deliver a speech. As his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza, just past noon, shots rang out, and struck President Kennedy. He was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital; thirty minutes later, the 35th president of the United States was pronounced dead.
For more about this difficult event, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests “The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson.
Thanksgiving was America’s first holiday — declared as such by the first president, George Washington, and to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1789. His proclamation urged citizens to give thanks for the founding of the new American republic. But, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving decree, that the celebration would be forever observed on the fourth Thursday in November.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.