On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most memorable speeches in American history: The Gettysburg Address. Some 3,577 Union soldiers—half of them unknown—from 18 states are buried in Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Dedication of the cemetery, adjacent to the local cemetery where some of the fighting had taken place, occurred on November 19, 1863. In just a few minutes and 272 words, Lincoln described his vision for “a new birth of freedom” for America. It was what many consider the best summation in the nation’s history of the meaning and price of freedom.
Check out these great resources to learn more about this speech and why it is considered not only a milestone in American history but also a great work of American literature:
- History Channel: This Day in History
- Mrs. Hamilton’s Favorite Del.icio.us Links: The Gettysburg Address
- Primary Documents in American History (Library of Congress): Web Guides to The Gettysburg Address
- Our Documents.gov: The Gettysburg Address
- USA Today (November 15, 2007) story about the possible discovery of a photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg
Below is the full text of this historic speech:
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 the 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 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.