|On November 19, 1863, a cemetary was dedicated for the dead of the Battle of
Gettysburg at which the key speaker was the famous orator Edward Everett. Among the notiaries who attended this solemn event was the then president of these United States, Abraham Lincoln. Although he was not the featured speaker, he was allowed a few moments to address the gathering. Neither his oratory nor the fact that he spoke was considered particularly significant at the time. The newspapers merely noted: "Mr. Lincoln also addressed the assemblage." Today, we call
his "remarks" the Gettysburg Address, and every American school child, at least of my generation, knows it by heart. I present it here because it is in keeping with the spirit of this day which we are celebrating. Mr. Lincoln spoke not only of the test that this country was in the throws of undertaking at that moment in time, but also what we owe
the dead who fell in that conflict and all conflicts this nation has faced and with an eloquent simplicity that, hopefully, shall reverberate for generations to come.|
The only known picture of Lincoln at Gettysburg1.
The Gettysburg Address2
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those
who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. 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
hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here;
while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we
take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that
these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, 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.
1 THE ONLY KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN at the dedication of the Civil
War cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863.
These modern prints showing the crowd around the platform at Gettysburg and a detail from that picture of President Lincoln
on the platform were made from the original glass plate negative at the National Archives. The plate lay unidentified in the
Archives for some fifty-five years until in 1952, Josephine Cobb, Chief of the Still Pictures Branch, recognized Lincoln in the
center of the detail, head bared and probably seated. To the immediate left (Lincoln's right) is Lincoln's bodyguard, Ward Hill
Lamon, and to the far right (beyond the limits of the detail) is Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. Cobb estimated
that the photograph was taken about noontime, just after Lincoln arrived at the site and before Edward Everett's arrival, and
some three hours before Lincoln gave his now famous address.
2 TRANSCRIPT OF THE NICOLAY DRAFT OF THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. According to popular legend, Lincoln penned the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while riding the train from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Other tellings of the story indicate that he wrote it on hotel stationary; while yet a third version suggests that he penned it in his office in Washington and it was mislaid or could not be found when he departed for Gettysberg. In any event, there were more than one draft of the speech: one which it is claimed he penned before the event which he gave to his personnal secretary Nicolay; a second which he penned as an archival copy which he gave to his other secretary Hay; and a third, authored as a press release known as the Bliss version. Differences between these have to do with some phrasing, particularly in the concluding paragraph (both Bliss and Hay drafts read: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom,...") and some variations in punctuation. It is the Nicolay version which most credit as being the one actually delivered in Gettysburg. The full story can be found on the Internet.