Gettysburg Address, a speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The ceremony honored Civil War soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863). The President's brief address followed an oration by Edward Everett, the main speaker, and was largely ignored at the time. But its eloquent language and its stirring expression of the nation's ideals have made it one of the most quoted speeches in United States history.
Lincoln wrote the address in Washington. He revised it in Gettysburg before delivering the speech, and revised it at least four more times for publication. The words Lincoln actually spoke were recorded by a careful reporter, Charles Hale of the Boston Advertiser:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon 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 are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of 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 that they have thus far so nobly carried on. 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 here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain—that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom—and that governments of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.