The Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the best-known in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Beginning with the now-iconic phrase "Four score and seven years ago," referring to the Declaration of Independence during the American Revolution in 1776, Lincoln examined the founding principles of the United States in the context of the Civil War, and memorialized the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and extolled virtues for the listeners (and the nation) to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy, that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
|The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln (circled) at Gettysburg, taken about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and some three hours before the speech. To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon|
Abraham Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with "a new birth of freedom," that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, ensuring that democracy would remain a viable form of government and creating a nation in which rights were no longer dominant.