SPEECH: Abraham Lincoln, "Gettysburg Address"

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Today is the 152nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," at a mere ten sentences perhaps the briefest great speech in human history. Lincoln delivered the address on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg PA. Four and a half months earlier the Union army under Major General George Mead had defeated the Confederates under General Robert E. Lee.

The battle would prove to be a turning point in the Civil War, with the Confederacy never again able to mount substantive offensive operations.  Lee would not surrender the last of the organized Confederate Army until April 9, 1865, but the outcome was all but predetermined by the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Of course, this outcome was far from apparent when Lincoln gave his address that November in 1863.

Here's Lincoln's speech:

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 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.

Blog, SpeechAndrew BrancaComment