November 19, 1863

President Lincoln at Gettysburg

Meredith Jessup
The Blaze

President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famed Gettysburg Address 147 years ago today:

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.

Never forget it.

[CAJ note: For about 100 years or so after the delivery of the Gettysburg Address American school children were required to memorize the speech for civics or history classes. We wonder whether public school students today even know what the address is…or who President Lincoln was…or why our Civil War matters…]

Update: At Andrew Malcolm wrote about the address:

Few people are aware that quite possibly the greatest speech in American political history was an afterthought…

…The occasion was a solemn one that somnolent gray day. Just four months previously 82,269 Union troops under Gen. George Meade had confronted 75,000 Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee in a smokey, sordid three-day struggle that would claim 51,112 casualties — killed, wounded and missing.

That was to become the bloodiest battle of the Civil War; 53% of the casualties were Southerners and Lee’s forces never regained their strength…

…On that day of the Gettysburg Address seven score and seven years ago Lincoln had less than 17 months to live…

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