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Gettysburg Address Facts For Kids


The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the most well-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, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.

  • 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 invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, but as “a new birth of freedom” which in a renewed Union 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 states’ rights were no longer dominant.
  • Despite the speech’s prominent place in the history and popular culture of the United States, the exact wording and location of the speech are disputed.
  • The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address differ in a number of details and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech.
  • Modern scholarship locates the speakers’ platform 40 yards away from the Traditional Site within Soldiers’ National Cemetery at the Soldiers’ National Monument and entirely within private, adjacent Evergreen Cemetery.
  • Lincoln’s address followed the oration by Edward Everett, who subsequently included a copy of the Gettysburg Address in his 1864 book about the event.
  • During the train trip from Washington D.C., to Gettysburg on November 18, Lincoln remarked to John Hay that he felt weak.
  • Despite the historical significance of Lincoln’s speech, modern scholars disagree as to its exact wording, and contemporary transcriptions published in newspaper accounts of the event and even handwritten copies by Lincoln himself differ in their wording, punctuation, and structure.
  • In Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills notes the parallels between Lincoln’s speech and Pericles’s Funeral Oration during the Peloponnesian War as described by Thucydides.
  • In an 1894 article that included a facsimile of this copy, Nicolay, who had become the custodian of Lincoln’s papers, wrote that Lincoln had brought to Gettysburg the first part of the speech written in ink on Executive Mansion stationery, and that he had written the second page in pencil on lined paper before the dedication on November 19.
  • It used to be on display as part of the American Treasures exhibition of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The existence of the Hay copy was first announced to the public in 1906, after the search for the “original manuscript” of the Address among the papers of John Hay brought it to light.
  • In 2006, Civil War enthusiast John Richter was credited with identifying two additional photographs in the Library of Congress collection that potentially show President Lincoln in the procession at Gettysburg.