The Gettysburg Address


150 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered by all accounts, probably the most significant speech given by a President, not given as an Inaugural Address. It was written on an envelope and took less than five minutes to deliver.
When he was done, the audience sat stunned, stoically, hands on their laps. He thought his speech made no impact, due to the non-response. After all, he followed Edward Everett, who gave a 2 1/2 hour speech and was greeted with cheers and applause. He thought he failed.
Everett was accorded the honor to deliver his speech as the main speech to dedicate the hollowed grounds where Union soldiers died. His 13,000+ word speech began as follows:
“Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed; — grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.”

And ended two hours later with:

“But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates the Battles of Gettysburg.”

Today, no one remembers this speech.

Lincoln was invited as an afterthought, because one of the planners felt it would be wrong to slight the President of the United States on such an occasion.

What follows is the entire address, which could just as easily be applied today with all the turmoil in our country.

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.


Thank you, Mr Lincoln.


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