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Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech, was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery[?] in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

On November 19, 1863, some four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln traveled to the small Pennsylvania town to help dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery. Lincoln was invited to give "a few appropriate remarks". The main speaker was to be Edward Everett[?], a distinguished orator who had served as Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor of Massachusetts and President of Harvard University. After a well received two hour speech by Everett, now largely forgotten, Lincoln spoke just over two minutes -- so briefly that the attending photographer failed to capture his image during the speech.

Initial public reaction to the speech was divided along partisan lines, but Everett praised the President for his eloquently concise speech saying, "I should flatter myself if I could come to the heart of the occasion in two hours in what you did in two minutes."

Lincoln's words have become enshrined as a historic American utterance, studied by scholars and memorized by school children for generations, and are here given in full:

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 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 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.

The Gettysburg Address is inscribed on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.



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