19

November

2009

0

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

by Doug Litts

Dedication - leslie During July 1-3, 1863, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War took place around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Confederate defeat is seen as the turning point of the war ending the invasion of the North. Over 160,000 participated in the battle with close to 50,000 dead or wounded. The over 7,000 dead were placed in quickly excavated graves or not buried at all.

Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin authorized the purchase of seventeen acres for a cemetery so that the Union dead could be properly buried. David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney, bought the land and hired landscape architect William Saunders to draw a plan. Wills also planned the Lincoln dedication ceremony for the cemetery and invited President Abraham Lincoln to give a few remarks.

On November 19, 1863, a crowd of around 15,000 gathered for the Gettysburg National Cemetery's dedication even though the reinterment of the Union dead was only half completed. The main speaker was Edward Everett, a famous orator who gave a two-hour formal address. Thereafter, Lincoln then stood and gave an address that took about 2 minutes and would become one of the most famous speeches in United States history.  The 272 word address started wih the now famous phrase, "Four score and seven years ago" and concluded with "and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) and the National Museum of American History both have resources on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. All three of these images come from the AA/PG library collection:

1. Detail of the Gettysburg National Cemetery dedication from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 5, 1863.

2. Portrait of Abraham Lincoln from Anecdotes of Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln's Stories edited by J.B. McClure (Chicago: Rhodes & McClure, 1879).

3. Cartoonist's depiction of Confederate President Jefferson Davis giving his own address after the Battle of Gettysburg from Harper's Weekly, August 22, 1863.

Davis

 —Doug Litts

Leave a Reply


*

Follow Us

Latest Tweets

Categories

Archives