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Friday, 25 April 2014

Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address

It had been 87 years since the Declaration of Independence was written at the beginning of the American Revolution. November 19, 1883 stood in the midst of the American Civil War, four and a half months after the bloody Union victory in Gettysburg.

President Abraham Lincoln had been invited by Judge David Willis by letter to offer remarks to close the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery that stood in the aftermath of that battlefield. Willis, who had originally created the idea of the national cemetery and organized its dedication, had told the President his part in the ceremony would be small.

Compared to former U.S. senator Edward Everett’s two-hour dedication speech which preceded Lincoln’s, the president’s 272-word address given in just over two minutes was brief by all accounts, but would go on to become Lincoln’s most iconic.

The Associated Press, which was there for the event, transmitted the speech as read:


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. (Applause.) 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 are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of 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 to detract. (Applause.) The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here. (Applause.) It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. (Applause.) It is rather for us here to be 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 the dead shall not have died in vain. (Applause.) That the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. (Long applause.)

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