Gettysburg Address – The History
The Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg was a decisive battle at the turn of the American Civil War, fought between July 1 and July 3, 1863.
Gettysburg Address – The Purpose
The Gettysburg Address is one of the greatest speeches in American history. Although very short, President Lincoln used the speech to invoke the founders’ principles of human equality and representative government. Lincoln also used the Gettysburg Address to reposition the American Civil War as a “new birth of freedom” that would finally establish true equality for the citizens of a united and free republic.
Gettysburg Address – The Text
“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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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.”
Gettysburg Address – The Dispute
In recent years, the Gettysburg Address has faced some attempts at revisionist history. Although the text of the Gettysburg Address is recorded in contemporary newspapers, preserved manuscripts, and national monuments, some “modern scholars” have challenged the actual version delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the primary challenge relates to the two words, “under God.” The revisionist theory is that one of the five surviving manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address doesn’t contain those two words, and the so-called “modern scholarship” points to this manuscript as the one, true version of the actual speech.