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The Gettysburg Address
President Abraham Lincoln 11.19.1863
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.
Notes: President Lincoln rose AFTER the featured speaker of the day had spoken. Edward Everett, the former president of Harvard College and one of the 19th century’s most celebrated orators had delivered an historical speech detailing the war, battle and blood that had been shed. It lasted for 2 hours. The 16th President spoke for about 2 minutes. In 268 well chosen words, Mr. Lincoln delivered a speech that has been heard around to world and it is immortalized in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Even Edward Everett was moved and humbled by the Gettysburg address. Everett afterwards wrote to the President: "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as close to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
Source: Cornell University, Rare Books & Documents