President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches in United States history, at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on this day in history, Nov. 19, 1863.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought between July 1, 1863, and July 3, 1863.
It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, with an excess of 51,000 soldiers killed, injured or otherwise lost to action, noted National Geographic.
Some 3,155 Union troops were killed, while 3,903 Confederates died.
The Union victory there marked the turning point of the war, the same source indicated.
President Lincoln was asked to deliver a message at the dedication of the Gettysburg Civil War Cemetery.
The featured speaker for the occasion was Edward Everett, a former dean of Harvard University, and one of the most famous orators at that time, National Geographic also recounted.
Everett spoke for two hours, and then President Lincoln delivered his message, the Gettysburg Address.
It took just about two minutes, according to multiple sources.
Lincoln’s brief address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history.
He connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for “a new birth of freedom,” as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government, according to History.com.
Despite its brevity, the speech has since come to be recognized as one of the most powerful statements in the English language and one of the most important expressions of freedom and liberty in any language, noted National Geographic.
When President Lincoln received the invitation to make the remarks at Gettysburg, he saw an opportunity to make a broad statement to the American people on the enormous significance of the war, and he prepared carefully, History.com stated.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty …”
Though popular legend holds that he wrote the speech on the train while traveling to Pennsylvania, historical accounts say he probably wrote about half of it before leaving the White House on Nov. 18, and completed writing and revising it that night, after talking with Secretary of State William H. Seward, who had accompanied him to Gettysburg, said History.com.
What follows is the 272-word transcript of the Gettysburg Address, according to several historical sources.
“Fourscore 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 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 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 here 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.”
Less than two years later, Lincoln died in a first-floor bedroom at the Petersen Boarding House at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, the morning after he was shot by Johns Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., during a performance of “Our American Cousin.”
In the moments after Lincoln took his last breath, friend Edward Stanton — also the country’s Secretary of War at that time — said, “Now he belongs to the ages,” according to the National Park Service.
In the heart of our country, in Springfield, Illinois, on the edge of the city he called home, is the site of the Lincoln Tomb.
It is the final resting place of President Lincoln, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their children, according to Indiana State Historic Preservation Office.